By Tim Whelan Jr., USA TODAY High School Sports | November 8, 2017 2:23 pm ET
Westerville (Ohio) South running back Jaelen Gill received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey at his school Wednesday as part of the Army All-American Selection Tour Presented by American Family Insurance.
“I can’t even put into words what this means,” Gill said. “This is a game I’ve been watching since I can remember, from back in elementary school. I always watched to see the upcoming stars, and it’s an honor and a blessing to be a part of it.
“It’s definitely a surreal moment for me,” he added. “Even today, you hear mention of the stars who have come out of it like Odell Beckham, Tim Tebow. It’s crazy having my name in that conversation.”
He certainly earned his spot. Gill, a 6-1, 182-pound five-star and Ohio State commit, is ranked as the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country and the No. 2 recruit in Ohio according to the 247 Sports Composite.
He has been committed to the Buckeyes since March.
Gill, who is also a baseball player and hopes to suit up on the diamond for Ohio State, had looked at schools across the country such as USC, UCLA, Penn State, Florida, Miami and Tennessee. But it was always the Buckeyes who had his heart.
“I’ve grown up being an Ohio State fan, but I ventured off to other places and wanted to see what else is out there,” said Gill, who will take his official visit to Columbus after the season. “One thing that stuck out at Ohio State is when they say they treat you like true family. A lot of schools will preach that, but this feels like it is actually family. They won’t just use you as one or their players, but they’ll set me up in the best position to succeed in life.”
A football player since he was five years old, Gill sees the game as providing a solid foundation for the life he wants to pursue.
“You make a lot of memories with teammates, and most are off the field,” Gill said. “Between practices, two a days, the locker room, the weight room, there’s not too many people across the country or even the world who can relate to what football brings. It’s really cool.”
The U.S. Army All American Bowl presented by American Family Insurance is scheduled for Jan. 6 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST.