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January 3, 2010
Stars ready to shine in San Antonio
MORE: Sizing up the Army Bowl rosters | All-star coverage | Army All-American Bowl coverage
SAN ANTONIO - The wait is over for approximately 90 U.S. Army All-Americans in the 2010 class.
Sunday, the players arrived in San Antonio to get checked in, get their jerseys and meet one another as they prepare to start practices Monday. There was plenty of excitement from the top players in the nation as they walked into the Grand Hyatt Hotel throughout the day.
The common theme was that these stellar athletes feel honored to be here and cannot wait to strap the pads on for the first time.
"It's a dream come true," four-star wide receiver and Tennessee commit Markeith Ambles said. "Being young, looking at older guys that were in this game ... it's something you never thought you would do - but now you're doing it."
Rivals100 safety Marquis Flowers says that he's thankful for the opportunity to show his stuff in front of the country.
"I mean, it's definitely a chance to get into the national spotlight early," Flowers said. "I have to thank the U.S. Army for inviting me here, paying for everything. Man, I'm very excited. This is a big game."
Nebraska offensive tackle commit Andrew Rodriguez couldn't hide his excitement as he did interviews and was shown around the areas players would have available to them throughout the week. He said that this week would be "all smiles."
LSU-bound safety Eric Reid watched the Army game in the past, and that served as motivation to make it here himself.
"The guys I remember watching the best are Terrelle Pryor and Tim Tebow," Reid said. "I've been working to get here ever since I saw that game."
"I started watching the game like four years ago and I remember watching Tebow when he played. It was a goal of mine to get here since I saw that game."
Defensive end Jacques Smith is heading to Tennessee this month, so he looks at this as a great test before he gets to the next level.
"You're going to be playing against really good people," Smith said. "I go to school in the next week, and I'll be seeing the same thing. I'm a little bit nervous, but the excitement overwhelms the nervousness."
The nation's No. 10 defensive tackle - Jeffrey Whitaker - made the trip from Georgia. It wasn't just exciting for him to be part of this prestigious game, but also to be on an airplane for the first time.
"It's a blessing to be here, humbling experience," Whitaker said.
He is ready for practice ... for the most part.
"I might want to get a little nap in first (laugh). But, we wouldn't be here if we didn't want to put the pads on somebody."
Defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli's reaction to his few hours in San Antonio was short, but to the point.
"I like it," Heimuli said. "These jerseys are sick."