WENTZVILLE, Mo. - Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland offensive tackle Nick Demien finally had his chance to make headlines for the first time this season. The top-ranked recruit in Missouri accepted the invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl during a press conference on Thursday morning.
The season's start has been delayed for Demien after he suffered a knee injury before the T-Wolves' first game. Almost fittingly, the announcement ceremony at Timberland was almost delayed due to a pulled fire alarm.
"We had to evacuate for a little while," Demien laughed. "But everything started on time."
Despite that chaos, the significance of Thursday's announcement wasn't lost on the four-star tackle, even though he's been aware of his spot in the prestigious event for a few months.
"For me, it's a great honor," Demien said. "I never pictured myself being there. But, I never thought I'd get recruited as much as I did, either. It came as a surprise, I guess you could say. I never thought I'd get to play in front of millions of people."
After one more unexpected occurrence at the ceremony, Demien said he was finally ready to compete against the nation's best athletes.
"It was kind of funny," Demien began. "Nobody told me about having to say anything (after I accepted the invitation). I thought it was all just, 'smile for the picture.' And I was good with that."
A quiet ceremony was not to be for the 6-foot-6, 300-pound lineman, however.
"But, of course, five minutes before, no joke, five minutes, they walked in and said, 'Hey, you need to give like a thank-you type speech.' I mean, that's not a big deal for me to say thank you, but I didn't expect to have to give a speech.
"It was pretty interesting. I'm sure you can go look at it, if you want to, online, and I sure didn't know what to say. I went through all the normal stuff, but it was spur of the moment. I started sweating. I could feel the sweat running."
For Demien, the sweat continued to run after after the impromptu speech, after almost forgetting to include someone very close to him.
"Well, I think I got everybody," Demien said, "but I got some 'tsk-tsk' from my girlfriend. She wanted to be included in there, too."
The invitation, was a self-proclaimed "bittersweet" moment for Demien because of his injury.
"It's great," Demien said. "I'm excited about being able to play in this game. But at the same time, it's bittersweet because, all my senior friends and my team, I kind of feel like I let them down, because I couldn't be there to support them (on the field)."
With the bright lights and press gone, Demien said he's back to focusing on the task at hand -- getting his knee healthy enough to suit up at least one more time this year for the 7-1 T-Wolves, and strong enough to handle the rigors that will follow him to Missouri.
A victory on Friday would clinch a playoff berth for Timberland, making it more likely for Demien to return to the field. His physical therapist said his recovery is going great, according to Demien, and his eagerness to play is evident in his voice.
"I'm confident there's a chance I'll be able to get back to play in our last game," Demien said. "Even if it's not for the whole game, I want to get out there."