TAMPA– Plant quarterback Phillip Ely and running back/defensive end James Wilder Jr. have won state champions and been among the nation’s top recruits.
But officially earning the label All-American just might top it all.
“I think this is something that is probably the first thing you tell your kids once you get old,” said Ely, an Alabama commit.
Ely and Wilder were officially named to the U.S. Army All-America Team Tuesday afternoon at an after-school ceremony in the Plant field house. They were invited months ago, but Tuesday marked the official naming to the East team to play in the nation’s most prestigious high school football showcase game.
Out of 90 players selected, they are the only two from the same high school team.
It is the second time Plant teammates will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in the same game. Two years ago, Plant quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Orson Charles both represented the East.
“For all of us to be able to go there, it’s an honor,” Wilder said, who has committed to FSU. “There are a lot of seniors who would like to be in this place right now. I definitely take it as a honor, and I definitely take it humbly.”
The Panthers pair were named by U.S. Army Major General Steven J. Hashem, the director of the Center for Knowledge and Futures for U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base
Plant coach Robert Weiner was also named to the East coaching staff. He will be an offensive assistant coach under South Panola (Miss.) head coach Lance Pogue.
“I think it truly is a program and team honor,” Weiner said. “It says a lot about the guys who have been around those two and even the guys we had a couple years back. It says a lot about the overall program that those guys were able to be showcased so well that they would earn such a position. It really is just a tremendous honor to be a part of that.”
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played Jan. 8, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and will be broadcast on NBC.
Past participants include NFL All-Pros (Adrian Peterson, Desean Jackson, Nick Mangold), Heisman Trophy winners (Tim Tebow) and first-round draft picks (Mark Sanchez, Vince Young).
The 90 players selected are chosen from 400 nominees by Rivals.com, recruiting analyst Tom Lemming and All-American Games, LLC.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection tour will stop at Countryside on Thursday to name senior offensive tackle Tyler Moore, a Nebraska commit, to the East squad.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)