By Jason Jordan, USA Today High School Sports | September 29, 2016 4:01 pm ET
When Collinsville (Collinsville, Okla.) linebacker Levi Draper was mulling over which postseason all-star game he’d ultimately attend, he weighed heavily on tradition and subsequently opted for the U.S. All-American Bowl.
“It’s a game that I’ve always wanted to be a part of because of all of the history associated with it,” said Draper, an Oklahoma commit. “In the end, it really was a no-brainer. This is the game I wanted to be a part of.”
The fact that both his late great-grandfathers fought in WWII – J.W. Cottingim was in the Navy and Don Eaton was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps – only added to his desire to be a part of the game, which will commence Jan. 7 in San Antonio’s Alamodome at 1 p.m. (ET).
“It played a part for sure,” Draper said. “My grandfather was also in the Navy and it feels great to be a part of a game that honors our armed forces. The tradition in this game is second to none.”
On Thursday, Draper was presented with his honorary jersey for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as part of the Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“I’m super excited it’s a dream come true,” Draper said. “I don’t even know how I’ll celebrate this, but it’s definitely a big deal for me. It’s always a big deal to achieve a goal.”
Draper will have his work cut out for him if he’s going to accomplish his ultimate goal of winning a state title. The Cardinals (2-2) fell to Altus (Altus, Okla.) 31-28 last year in the state championship on a field goal in the waning seconds of the game.
Last season Collinsville opened the season 1-3 before it turned its season around and made a spirited run at states.
The Cardinals face Tahlequah (Tahlequah, Okla.) Friday night.
“We’re kinda getting used to the new guys that came in,” Draper said. “We lost a bunch of seniors off of last year’s team and we’re trying to get back on track. Tahlequah is one of those teams that can absolutely beat you if you’re not on your game. I think this game is big because we’re coming off a loss. We’re focusing on what we have to do to turn everything around.”