The Newest All-American!

If I ask a prep football player what they think of the U.S. Army All-American game, they'll probably light up a bit, talk in tones that tell you in no vague terms that this is THE game of the year. It's where the best of the best come together and compete to see who has the best team. Well, another member has been added to that list. A future Husker at that. And like many, he's been thinking about this game for years. Now, he's going to be a member.

It was three weeks ago or thereabouts and the call came in:


You have been selected to be  part of the 2006 U.S. Army All-American game


That's a dream come true for prep football players nowadays, the U.S. Army game now THE game where the best football players in the country come together and compete to see if they have what it takes and who amongst them is truly the best.


Grandview, Missouri quarterback Josh Freeman has been thinking of that day he would get the call, long before the day would come, if it ever would.


It did


Three weeks ago he was given the message and you can imagine how even the usually very reserved Freeman, knowing that he would be one of the elite in the biggest prep football game of the year. "I was excited," Josh said of when he heard the good news. "It's a game that every football player wants in, but I didn't know if I would get the chance."


When you are chosen for this game, there's a variety of criteria that go into it, the numbers only being part of that. But it's not like Freeman had a shortcoming in that area. On the season, Freeman threw for 2,594 yards passing, throwing 32 scoring strikes to only nine interceptions and he ran for approximately 400 yards, scoring seven times. His team finished with a 7-3 record on the year.


What Freeman has is attitude, a good one, and one that fits his new role as U.S. Army All-American. It's the belief in being the best even though you may not be the best football player in the world. If you at least believe that you can be or that you have what it takes, that's the first step in competing at the very highest level of play.


You didn't have to ask Freeman twice what he felt about having his name along side those of Tim Tebow, Mitch Mustain, Zach Frazier, Demetrus Jones and the rest of the best quarterbacks in the nation. "It's great, because it gives you a chance to go out and prove that you can hang with those guys," Josh said. "I know I can, but with a game like this, you can't pretend you are, because everyone in the country is going to see it on national TV."


When Freeman hits the field each time for a contest, he'll tell you that he's in his own little world. Casual, almost lackadaisical any other time, once it's game time, the nonchalant demeanor disappears. He starts to get excited, begins narrowing his vision on what he has to get done and when he steps onto the field, if you aren't on the team, he doesn't even know you are there.


The moment he steps onto the field as a U.S. Army All-American, in front of an anxious and interested national crowd, he's certain just how that will feel. "I'll probably have butterflies the night before, but not during the game," Josh said. "That's when you just zone everyone out and it's down to business."


"All you think about is what you have to do and in a game like this, there are no second chances. You get it done or you don't. That's the kind of pressure I like."


There will be pressure, yes, because when he takes the field, there will be some of the best defensive players in the country hell bent on stopping anything he does. But he'll have some of the best offensive players in the country helping him to do just that.


As a quarterback, when you think of names like Parrish Cox, Jamere Holland, Terrence Austin and David Ausberry, and know that those are going to be your receivers during this game, there's only one thing to say:


"Nice," Josh said of hearing about the core group of receivers he would have. "That's pretty crazy having those kinds of guys to throw to."


He'll have that, plus tight end Konrad Rueland along with an offensive line anchored by Washington's Steve Schilling.  


It's all about the names and Josh will be playing with some of the names he's heard about all year.


That's not what matters to him, though.


"Everyone wants to show out when they are there," he said of what most players that compete in this want to accomplish while they are there. "There's a lot of fun you get to have during the week, but you want to do well during the game."


"Everyone is watching, so this is when you have to be at your best. That's where I plan to be when I get there."


The pressure of being the best is nothing new to players that achieve this type of honor. That's what they strive for every single day. That's what gets them up in the morning and that's what they dream about after they go to sleep.


They want to be the best and they know to do that, you have to compete and beat the best this country has to offer.


In early January, Freeman will have his chance to do just that. It's the U.S. Army All-American game, the biggest prep-football all star game in the country. It's the real deal and for players like Josh, it's also a dream come true.


"It's what you want if you play football," Freeman said. "That's the game you want to play in. It's the best and to be part of that is great. I am excited and I can't wait to get there."


"I know it's going to be a lot of fun."



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