In the days leading up to the U.S. Army All-America Game, USA TODAY High School Sports will be checking in with a number of players for their accounts of the events and activities in San Antonio. This entry is from KJ Costello, Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) quarterback. Costello is the No. 52 player in 2016 according to 247 Sports, has committed to Stanford and is considered one of the top-5 pro-style quarterbacks in the Class of 2016.
From the jump, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl brings back similar vibes to The Opening. The top 100 or 150 players are all here. You recognize a lot of the faces and see them again. There are hard core 30-40 guys who I am starting to move beyond surface relationships with now, and it’s kind of cool realizing that you’re making lasting relationships with guys who will be really successful in a few months.
There’s more talent at wide receiver this week than I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s pretty cool being able to work with guys with this kind of ability.
To me, this is a different kind of atmosphere as far as competing. It’s not like Elite 11 where we’re fighting for the number one overall spot. Me, Shea (Shea Patterson) and Peters (Brandon Peters) have built a pretty cool relationship. We all know we’re going to play a quarter, and it doesn’t really matter which one. All the wideouts are damn good, so we’re trying to get the victory and not stress the competition thing among one another.
RELATED: Get 2 The Game with KJ Costello
The hardest thing in practice is just picking up the offense this fast. We’ve had 50 plays, 25 each of the first two days, and we ran it live each day. Learning on the fly is really important, and will be in the future. Especially as a freshman in college, trying to understand the system and play early.
As far as the next phase, Stanford was something that has been in the back of my mind the whole time. I grew up a USC fan, I didn’t know about Stanford until my freshman year of high school, and then I did my research and understood the prestige of the institution. I think Stanford is really up and coming, and with the academics and the people there, the people in that locker room kind of come from the same background and want the same thing. Coach Shaw really sold me. The system and the atmosphere is just the best one for me to thrive in.
There’s been a lot for us to do in San Antonio when we aren’t playing football. We went bowling with special education kids, and that was really cool. It emphasized how it’s always important to have that balance off the field as well. It was cool. The first day we signed a lot of autographs. These aren’t the first autographs I’ve ever signed, but it was definitely the most I’ve ever signed in one sitting. It’s cool to know that people are looking up to athletes like me and the other guys. I collected cards and things like that when I was a kid, so it’s pretty cool to sign a card yourself with your face or name on it.
One thing people may not know about me is that I’m a scratch golfer. It’s true. I love golf. I lived on a golf course from the jump, and we played football games on a golf course for years.