Even though he's heading to Florida to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice four-star offensive lineman Darris Sawtelle will be hardly treating the trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a vacation. The 6-foot-6, 295-pounder said he's coming to play hard in the game.
"More than anything, people will see that I'm an aggressive kid," he said. "That's what I'm going to bring to the East team. I want to win, and I'll do anything to win. I know I'm going to be going up against some great defensive lineman. I'm looking to play against the best. I'm not cocky, but I feel like I'm a pretty good offensive lineman, and the guy that gives the most effort - especially in an All-American game like this - will win.
Five facts about Darris Sawtelle
• What he wants to accomplish in life: To be a respected athlete and a good family man.
• The president he most admires: Ronald Reagan.
• His hobbies: Fishing, golf and playing guitar.
• His favorite movie: Friday Night Lights.
• Picked Tennessee over offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska.
"I'm going to give it my all. You have to play this game emotional. The All-American Bowl won't be a vacation or a cruise for me. This has been a goal of mine ever since I got to high school. I wanted to play in an All-American game, and now I'm going to work hard to make sure we win."
As you can tell, Sawtelle - the No. 10 offensive tackle in the nation - is excited to be selected to play in the Jan. 4 game that will be carried live on ESPNU.
"I was surprised and kind of in shock," Sawtelle said. "I had to ask myself, did that just happen. Did I really get invited to play in an All-American game? That was always one of my biggest goals, and it's come true."
Sawtelle was having a great senior season, but it came to a dramatic finish on Saturday in an unexpected loss to De La Salle in the state playoffs. Still, Sawtelle was proud of the effort of his team and he can't wait to represent them in the All-American Bowl.
Sawtelle's grandfather Darris McCord was an All-American at Tennessee and played with the Detroit Lions for 13 years. It was no major surprise to see Sawtelle commit early in the process to Tennessee. But Sawtelle said he picked the Vols for reasons that went beyond his grandfather's connection.
"Everybody immediately says that I went there because my granddaddy went there," Sawtelle said. "I love my grandfather and Tennessee, but if I felt that it wasn't a program that I couldn't excel at then I wouldn't have gone there. I want to make him proud, but I wanted to be at a program that I could succeed in. I think I can help Tennessee succeed. It's a hard conference to win games in, but I think I'm going there with them on the upswing.
"They also produce offensive lineman, and I have a great relationship with coach (Phillip) Fulmer."