Mique Juarez is a monster of a linebacker. A chiseled 6-foot-2, 220-pound five-star recruit, Juarez has overcome a school with relatively limited exposure — Torrance North High, in the Los Angeles area — to rise to the top of the recruiting ranks. Just how hot a prospect is Juarez? He’s committed to USC, but the fact that he’s going to take official visits to UCLA and Ohio State have Trojans hearts in mouths that he could bolt for greener pastures.
In an interview with USA TODAY High School Sports from his stop on the 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance, Juarez confirmed that he would definitely make his final collegiate choice during the Jan. 9 Army All-American Bowl, but insisted that he was even more excited about other aspects of the annual showcase
“I’m a huge Boy Scout, so I definitely wanted to be involved with the U.S. Army game,” Juarez said. “I wanted to be in this environment where people take this more seriously and learn more about our country.
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“It’s a big honor to play for people who are protecting us, watching our country for us. If this can be any way of giving back a little bit, that’s part of why I want to play.”
Juarez accepted his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey in a ceremony at his school Thursday, just hours before he and his teammates were scheduled to take on Inglewood. The senior insisted that he had no idea that most of his teammates would be in the gym to celebrate the occasion with him, not to mention some other school officials and students. Unlike some jersey presentations, which are used as pseudo pep rallies for their team, this was a true celebration of Juarez, his gifts and accomplishments, and Juarez said that he was choked up by number of people in the crowd and their enthusiasm.
“It was heartwarming, it really was,” he said.
It’s that enthusiasm that Juarez hopes to harness for the rest of his senior campaign and a week in San Antonio, which he realizes is a once in a lifetime experience. He wants to learn more about the Army, his teammates and use the All-American Bowl as a springboard to his college future, which is planned to include just as much time studying kinesiology and business as playbooks … no matter on which campus it comes.
“Football has taken me a long way as you can see,” Juarez said. “It’s taught me brotherhood, respect and to back each other and my teammates up. It’s a family sport, and what you do with your family you do on and off the field. I don’t know where else I would be without football. My coaches taught me a lot of things to be the person I am today.”