SEFFNER — For years, Clyde Pinder Jr. watched the All-American Bowl as much as any other football game during the holidays. The Armwood High defensive tackle enjoyed seeing future college stars and potential first-round NFL draft picks as they capped off their high school careers in the annual all-star game.
“I kept hoping that one day I would be able to play in that game,” Pinder said.
On Friday, that moment formally arrived.
Nearly 100 family members, friends, teammates and teachers filled the school’s auditorium as Pinder was presented with his jersey for being selected for the All-American Bowl (formerly sponsored by Army), held Jan. 4 in San Antonio.
Pinder was picked based on his performance. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound senior has 23.5 career sacks, including 10 this season. Those numbers also got the attention of colleges.
The three-star prospect will not be announcing on national television where he will playing at the next level. Pinder made his college commitment months ago, picking North Carolina.
“The coaches were just really down to earth and made me feel at home,” Pinder said of the Tar Heels staff.
North Carolina tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who was on Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Florida State from 2013-17, was the main one recruiting Pinder to join the Tar Heels.
Pinder said he will sign in February and report sometime in the summer after graduating. He spent most of Friday basking in the moment.
After all, he was just one of eight Floridians chosen to play in the All-American Bowl.
Once the ceremony ended, Pinder got back to focusing on the rest of the playoffs.
“Right now, the primary focus is on going out and winning a state title,” he said.