It has been seven years since Alabama Class 5A power Russellville High School has featured a U.S. Army All-American. Eventual Tennessee Volunteer All-American and NFL lineman Arron Sears was the last Golden Tiger to receive the honor, and the prestigious accolade was a premonition of great things to come for the 6-foot-4, 315-pound mauler.
Alabama fans hope Tuesday's official announcement of five-star athlete Brent Calloway's invitation into the annual all-star game is a similar sign of future success. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Calloway is the 17th member of the East squad to be formally announced as part of the January 8, 2011, contest.
"It is just a real honor and blessing. There are a lot of great players that wish they could be in any all-star game, and there are plenty that are probably just as deserving as me so I am dedicating this game to them as well as my faith," said Calloway. "When I found out the news, I started thinking back through my career and it was hard to believe I would be as good as I have turned out three or four years ago. I was just a skinny kid who could run pretty fast. As I have grown older and matured, things have just taken off and God has just really blessed me man. I owe it all to him and my father who has kept me humble. I feel like with their guidance, I can pretty much deal with anything."
Calloway is unsure what position he will play during the Army game, but the Rivals100 star has excelled at both running back and linebacker throughout his career.
"If I had one wish for the all-star game, I would probably want to play running back one last time because I know my eventual position is linebacker, but I will play anywhere they put me," said Calloway. "I just want to have a great game and see where my skill level is compared to the best in the country. It would be nice to represent Russellville and make the state of Alabama and University of Alabama proud."
With one regular season game to go in addition to the state playoffs, Calloway already has 1,389 yards with 18 touchdowns and is averaging 9.4 yards per carry. In very limited defensive action, Calloway has 16 tackles, four pass break-ups and two sacks.
"I think I am in amazing shape right now. I am probably bigger and stronger than I have ever been, but I have kept my speed and quickness," said Calloway. "I was a little beat up earlier in the season, but I am 100 percent healthy right now just in time for the playoffs. We are region champs, and we want to get back to the state championship for the third time in three years and bring home the trophy."
Russellville coach Doug Goodwin is a long-time veteran of the public school ranks in Alabama and had glowing praise for his star player.
"He is as good as anyone I have ever coached. Athletically, he is for sure the best I have ever had," said Goodwin whose Russellville squad stands at 8-1. "He is so versatile and really I think at the end of the day you have to see where he ends up size-wise before you project him anywhere in college. He could play wide receiver, running back, linebacker or safety, and he can throw it about 60 yards too if we asked him to do that."
According to Calloway, his future position isn't a hot topic of debate in Tuscaloosa - yet.
"Coach Saban told me they prefer me at linebacker, but they would try me out anywhere my first year and see where I excel," said Calloway. "After that, it would be where they need me, but to start off, Coach Saban said if I want to try out at running back or another position, he would have no problem with it. I am all for whatever Coach Saban thinks is best for me and my future, and I know he would tell me straight up where I need to be to help the team out the most and for me to get to the next level."