The center of the sports world was far from Catholic Central High School on the morning of Wednesday, October 4, but in the Cougars’ gymnasium, it felt like everyone had a place to be. There were hundreds of students and faculty, stuffed in the stands next to each other, and a handful of media personnel, including myself, in attendance. All ready for the appearance of one All-American star.

Everyone there, in Grand Rapids, witnessed Jalen Mayfield be introduced as a U.S. Army All-American. The annual bowl, which takes place on January 6, 2018, in San Antonio, is preceded by a tour, which introduces all 100 athletes that were selected as All-Americans. Mayfield, the No. 4 player in the state of Michigan according to 247 Sports, received his U.S. Army jersey in front of his family, his teammates, and the rest of the school.

Following the presentation, I spoke with Jalen. He said “Growing up in the state, the culture and the tradition,” when asked why he chose to commit to the University of Michigan. “That has always been my dream school.” He also explained his recruiting process, in which he was offered by 16 different schools, including six Big Ten schools and Notre Dame.

When asked what other colleges he was considering, he said “Two schools were really up there with them (Michigan), was Michigan State and Iowa. Both great programs.” He also noted that he’ll be in attendance this coming Saturday, when the No. 7 Wolverines face the Spartans, looking to keep their undefeated season intact.

I also spoke with his mother for a short moment. “He started out as a quarterback, but he got too big, (he) couldn’t play quarterback at certain levels anymore,” she jokingly told me. “I wanted him to go wherever he wanted to go, well, Hawaii would’ve been nice,” she said, before describing how much she likes and trusts Jim Harbaugh and the coaching staff.

Mayfield’s career is just beginning, and today was another major step toward playing in the Big House in the next couple of years. No matter how far he gets playing football, the game he loves, today will always be special because it was the day he earned the honor of being named a U.S. Army All-American.

Photo Credit: 247 Sports.