Warren Central High School in Indianapolis has sent more than three dozen prospects to the Division I level in the last decade, but never has it had a prospect play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. That will change in January when linebacker Tim Kimbrough takes the field in San Antonio to represent the Warriors program.
"It means the world," Kimbrough said of his Army Bowl selection. "I am just excited about it and glad I am the only person to do it from my school."
The Indianapolis area, and the state of Indiana in general, has seen a surge of Division I football talent in recent years. It has long been known as a basketball state, and Kimbrough is hoping his appearance in the Army Bowl and future appearances playing in the SEC will draw attention to the football talent in the Hoosier State.
"We have great football players, but we're not really recognized like that," Kimbrough said. "That's one of the main reasons I committed to Georgia, so I could show everyone that Indiana has great football players."
Kimbrough will not be the only state-of-Indiana prospect playing in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In fact, he will not be the only linebacker from the state in the game. Joining Kimbrough on the West squad is Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers' Jaylon Smith, and Kimbrough is excited about what they can accomplish together.
"I haven't really gotten to talk to him," Kimbrough said of Smith, "but I want to talk to him more so we can be on the same level and be cool when we get down there. I just want to meet a lot of people and represent my school like I am supposed to. I want to do good in the game and make all the plays I can."
Kimbrough's 93 solo tackles and 46 assisted tackles during his senior season are evidence he makes plays, but what the stats do not reveal about the 6-foot-1, 225-pound middle linebacker is his talent for delivering big blows to opposing ball carriers. Known as one of the hardest hitters not just in the Midwest but the country, Kimbrough credits his playing style to his mental preparation.
"I have a different mindset," Kimbrough said. "Before the game, I am the hypedest person on the field. I have a certain attitude that makes me hit harder, I guess."
Kimbrough plans to take that mindset to San Antonio, but he also hopes to emerge from the Army Bowl with respect for the other areas of his game.
"I am still going to play like I play when I get down there, but I want to show everybody that I am a student of the game," Kimbrough said. "My attitude is I am trying to do everything. This year I knew everything I had to do, and that's why I made all the plays I made. I had all the experience."
Georgia was looking for a hard-hitting, intelligent linebacker to man the middle of its defense when it extended an offer to Kimbrough during his junior year. After several trips to Athens, the Indianapolis native decided to continue his career with the Bulldogs. He has not looked back since.
"I am still 100 percent with Georgia," Kimbrough said. "I just went down there this weekend when they blew out Georgia Tech, and that just made me more excited to get down there. I got to be on the field when they were playing music and warming up, and I just felt like this was where I am supposed to be.
"They showed me highlights of what their linebackers do, and they want me to come down there and do the same stuff. They said I am a great player and know I come hard when I come."
Kimbrough is coming to television sets around the country when he plays on NBC in the 2013 edition of the Army Bowl, and when the game is finished he expects the respect for talent in the state of Indiana will have risen.