For the sixth time in the seven-year history of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, there has been a Stanford-bound player selected to the nation's elite and most prestigious all-star game. Following in the footsteps of Michael Craven (Dec. 2000), Josiah Vinson (Jan. 2002), Emeka Nnoli (Jan. 2003), Alex Fletcher (Jan. 2004) and Ekom Udofia (Jan. 2005), there will be a future Cardinal donning the yellow and black jersey in one week's time in San Antonio (Tex.). The 2007 edition of the All-American Bowl will kick off on January 6 at the Alamodome at 12:00pm CST. Should the coin toss determine that the West squad kicks off, you may want to pay attention to the foot that first touches leather.
Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School kicker and punter David Green is a U.S. Army All-American. The 6'2" 210-pound specialist committed to the Cardinal in June and recently sealed his Stanford future with an admissions acceptance to the school. Our updates on Green this fall have withheld the news of his Army All-American selection, while organizers planned on making an official announcement at his school. It may come as little surprise that the ceremony never happened. Kickers seldom get respect, and Green is unfazed by the miscue.
"It's not a big deal. I was able to tell some people close to me and tell my friends. I didn't care if it got announced with a big ordeal. It's just cool to be invited," he says. "I was stoked about being selected. It was really exciting to be picked for that and that I can be involved with something of that caliber. I'm really excited to go... The fact that it's the Army, I'm stoked about that. There is a real tradition, and the United States Army is something great to be associated with. I'm really looking forward to the tradition and a lot of great times the next couple of weeks."
Among the 80-plus players selected for the nation's premier all-star football game, only one specialist was selected for each of the East and West rosters. Green will kick and punt for the West squad. Being recognized as one of the top two specialists in the country confirms Green's elite status and echoes his Scout.com ranking as the #1 kicker in the 2007 recruiting class. The humble Mission Viejo man, who was also recently named First-Team All-County by the Orange County Register, does not like to make too much fuss over these honors, however.
"I just keep trying my best and try to not let that get to my head," Green comments. "I always keep working my hardest. The rankings don't really mean that much to me."
That is not to say that he is not looking forward to what welcomes him in San Antonio.
"I'm not really sure all of what is going down. I think we're practicing twice a day. I hear it's going to be a lot of fun. I know we're going to have a couple banquets," Green describes. "Konrad Reuland went to my school and graduated last year, and he went to Notre Dame on scholarship. He was one of the best tight ends in the country. I looked up his profile on Notre Dame's website and it says his most memorable football experience was the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. I know Konrad, and he's a cool guy. When I read that, I have been really looking forward to this ever since."
There is some nervousness for Green in approaching the All-American Bowl. Not only will he be kicking and punting before a national television audience, on the biggest stage of his football career, but he will also be kicking under conditions different from his high school career. As a prep, Green enjoyed a one-inch tee for field goals and a two-inch tee for kickoffs. At Stanford, he will strike his field goal attempts off the ground and knock his kickoffs from a shorter one-inch tee.
Green knows nothing of the rules employed at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He has only been told that he will both kick and punt. Green says that should the favorable tees of high school football be available to him, he will decline and instead employ the college conditions.
"I'm not in high school anymore," the kicker declares. "I'm preparing for college. I'm starting now."
The 2006 season for the Mission Viejo Diablos ended a month ago, and after a short break, Green has the last few weeks been practicing field goals and kickoffs under these new conditions. It is now more difficult to get lift on the ball for both.
"In high school we use a tee [for field goals]. Then when we switch to college, there is no tee," Green says. "I haven't been using a tee, and I'm just hoping I do well. It's been a bump that I'm having to get over."
"I'm kind of nervous about it, with what is going to happen," he admits. "Other than that, I am going to have a fun time out there. The game - at least I think - is not going to be the whole deal. There is going to be more fun than just the actual game. I know they have a bunch more stuff planned for us. I want to do my best - look good on TV, represent my high school and represent Stanford. But I'm just going to do my best. I'm going to go out there and work my hardest and take it like a normal game - have fun out there."
Green hopes to put on a strong punting performance in the Alamodome. That aspect should be unaffected by any acclimation or rules change. The kicking is challenge. While that might make it difficult for him to hit a 48-yard field goal to win for the West, Green says that the quick transition he is undertaking is helping his game.
"Without the tee, it really exposes all of your kicking mechanical errors," he explains. "It really exposed how I kick. It's been good. It's been great because I know what I've been doing wrong. You realize how much you have to work on mechanics and be really sound."
"Two big things in kicking are keeping your eyes back and then swinging up. If you don't do that, the ball is not going to go very well," Green continues. "As easy as that sounds [laughs], it's been kind of hard. With something new like no tee, you want to see where the ball goes, so you lift your eyes up and look up too fast. Swinging up - you really want to get your leg up so that you can get a lot of height on the ball. With a tee, you don't really need that height."
One observer Green hopes to favorably impress on January 6 is new Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Orange County kicker already took his official visit to Stanford earlier this month and will wait until an in-home visit in January to meet Harbaugh for the first time.
"I've heard nothing but good things about him," Green offers. "Everybody I've talked to has said what a great guy and what a great coach he is. I've talked to a couple guys who have played for him and with him, and they say he's a really great guy."
Scout.com is the official and exclusive partner with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl to provide coverage throughout the next week of events in San Antonio. Stay tuned for more on David Green and the rest of the nation's best football prospects.
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