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December 6, 2011
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is the longest running and most tradition rich of the national high school all-star games. For Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward offensive tackle Kyle Kalis, though, the connection with the U.S. Army adds special meaning to the game.
"When I got the invitation from the Army Bowl, I just thought it was a no-brainer to try and give back as much as I can," Kalis said. "My grandfathers on both sides of my family have served? but it's not only that. Me, as an individual, I have so much respect for the guys over there doing what they do and protecting our country."
A five-star prospect and the nation's No. 4-ranked offensive tackle, Kalis is looking forward to the experience as well as the opportunity to improve his game.
"My main goal is to pretty much have fun, but when game time comes around I'll turn it on and go 100 percent," Kalis said. "I'd say my goal going into the game is pretty much to try and compete with the best. I think being out there and practicing with all those good guys, it's not going to do anything but make me better and make everyone else better."
One of the players Kalis will be competing against in East team practices is Cincinnati Taft defensive end Adolphus Washington. Kalis and Washington are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state of Ohio, but making the matchup even more intriguing is that Kalis has committed to Michigan and Washington is headed to Ohio State.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it, not only because he is a great player, but because it is a precursor to the years to come," Kalis said of the matchup. "The one game I saw him, I think it was Taft vs. Friendship, he was tearing it up. I'm just excited to get out there and compete with him."
Kalis is the son of former NFL offensive lineman Todd Kalis, who played nine seasons in the League, including six with the Minnesota Vikings. The younger Kalis certainly benefited from those genes being passed down, and he is considered one of the most technically sound offensive tackle recruits in the country, but father does not overwhelm son with football-related advice.
"One of the big things he always told me is when I get to college, then he'll start to give me some of his advice," Kalis said. "But the thing he has made sure I always listen to my coaches and apply their advice to my abilities. He has given me advice as far as life, but technique-wise he hasn't really done that."
It is that attention to detail in fundamentals as well as his college offensive lineman-ready physical build that could have 6-5, 302-pound Kalis contending for early playing time in his career at Michigan.
"The offensive line coach, Coach [Darrell] Funk, is expecting me to come in right around 305 and he told me I will definitely come in on the two-deep and compete for the job as a freshman," Kalis said.
Kalis originally committed to Ohio State early in his junior year, but switched that commitment to Michigan in the wake of Jim Tressel's resignation. In the five months since that switch Kalis' commitment has been firm, and even the hiring of Urban Meyer at Ohio State has not changed his mind that Michigan is where he needs to be.
"The two things that stick out in my mind is, No. 1, Coach [Brady] Hoke. He just got Big Ten coach of the year and I think the sky is the limit for him," Kalis said. "The second thing is the guys in my class. A lot of us will have a chance to play early and possibly start next year."
St. Edward faced a gauntlet of top teams this fall, including three top programs from out-of-state and the other nine all against top teams in the state of Ohio. They finished the season with an 8-4 record, coming up short of their goal of a state title, but Kalis will get a chance to close out his high school career on Jan. 7, 2012 in front of a national audience at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.