By Lance Cpl. David Flynn , Marine Corps Recruiting Command
After a yearlong search for the top 100 high school football players in the country, the rosters are set and Junior Rank, in partnership with Marine Corps Recruiting Command, is focusing efforts to make the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl week in Phoenix a success.
Junior Rank is a youth football organization dedicated to developing the next generation of student athletes through education, evaluation and instruction.
Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl week, slated for Dec. 29, 2011, through Jan. 4. 2012, at Chase Field in Phoenix, is a series of football-focused events, culminating in the first ever Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. The week is the final phase of MCRC’s 2011 partnership with Junior Rank.
Leading up to this point, Marines were involved throughout 21 Diamond Flight football camps hosted by Junior Rank during the summer and were present for the High School All-American Selection Tour, where players received their invitations to play in the historic game.
The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, scheduled for Jan. 3, 2012, will feature 100 of the best high school football seniors in the nation. The East-West format all star game will include players who attended Junior Rank Diamond Flight football camps during the summer. The game is to be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.
Different than the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, players selected for the the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl must demonstrate moral and scholastic excellence in addition to their skill on the gridiron.
“The Marine Corps wanted a game not only focused on athletic excellence, but academic excellence and moral character,” said Lori Proctor, account supervisor, JWT. “We found the right partner for that in Junior Rank.”
JWT is the advertising firm which represents MCRC.
Although most players in participating in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl have received athletic scholarships to various colleges and universities, some have not yet accepted offers. Expected to be in attendance at Chase Field are numerous college scouts, there to break down the athletes play and determine how they can help a team at the next level.
Another nationally televised event during bowl week will be the USMC Proving Ground Combine. The Proving Ground Combine, through a series of football drills, will test the abilities of 300 high school juniors. Marines will be present throughout the combine to assist coaches and provide motivation for the athletes. The top performers in the Proving Ground will receive invitations to play in next year’s Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. Football fans once again should tune in to CBS Sports Network for the combine.
In addition to the football events during the combine, participants will also take part in a seminar with Marines, where they will learn the importance of leadership, in addition to other core values that drive Marines and Junior Rank.
“The United States Marine Corps is the embodiment of honor, tradition and working with your teammate to achieve an objective,” said Shaon Berry, CEO, Junior Rank.
Berry, a former University of Pittsburgh running back, founded Junior Rank in 2008.
For players too young to participate in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl or Proving Ground Combine, Junior Rank and the Marines will host the Junior Academic All-American Bowl Jan. 2, 2012.
The Junior Academic All-American Bowl is a football game for 7th and 8th grade students. Maintining focus on character and academics, players must display the same ability in the classroom as they do on the football field in order to participate.
“Players participating in the Junior Academic All-American Bowl must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and a character recommendation to participate,” said Sarah McCollum, account executive, JWT.
Junior Academic All-Americans will also have the opportunity to learn from the players they hope to one day emulate. According to McCollum, Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl players will be involved in a Big-Brother type mentorship program with their younger counterparts.
All told, 500 student-athletes will be showcased throughout the week. With their participation, along with the efforts of Marines, Junior Rank and other organizers, the wheels have been set in motion for a successful inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl Week.
“We look forward to bringing in the best athletes from across the nation to a beautiful setting in Phoenix for a true celebration of the game,” said Berry.