Jake Campos stepped off a plane in San Antonio, grabbed his U.S. Army All-American game gear and was whisked off to join the nation’s top high school football seniors at practice.
The 90-minute span on Monday brought the West Des Moines Valley offensive lineman, an Iowa State recruit, into the world of big-time football.
“It was the busiest hour and a half of my life,” Campos said.
Campos, a Des Moines Sunday Register Elite all-state offensive lineman, will play in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
He was a late addition to the nation’s most prestigious high school all-star game. He was brought in to replace an injured player and made a swift trip south for the game, which will be held at noon and televised on NBC.
Campos received a phone call Sunday night. He got clearance from his parents, who were off attending a movie, to catch a 6 a.m. flight.
Rosters were determined during the fall. Campos was told he was on a reserve list in case the West squad needed a replacement.
His arrival was so abrupt that in his first practice he was forced to wear a defensive player’s jersey.
“I hoped that I would be able to play in it, but I thought I would be finding out about three weeks earlier,” Campos said. “I was blown away. I was speechless for a couple of seconds.”
He received his practice jersey emblazoned with his name on it Wednesday.
He expects to receive his game jersey today.
Campos, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound senior, is the only Iowan selected for this year’s game. The last Iowan to play in the All-American Bowl was Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Christian French in 2011.
He’s following the path of a former Valley lineman: David Barrent played in the 2009 game. Barrent went on to play at Michigan State.
“I’d go to games and would specifically watch him play,” Campos said. “His picture is up on the wall (at Valley) in his All-American jersey. It’s always been a dream of mine to do that, too.”
Campos said he has dozens of extended family members from Texas who are planning to attend.
Marshalltown center Tyler Kluver was named to the Under Armour All-American game, which will be played on Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla., at 4 p.m. Iowa time.