COLUMBIA, S.C. - Overcoming two major injuries, Rivals250 four-star defensive tackle prospect Chris Bonds of Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast High School celebrated his invitation to the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl with a joyous ceremony at his school Thursday afternoon.
Bonds, the No. 5 player in the state of South Carolina and the No. 11-ranked defensive tackle in the country, will join 89 other top seniors in the nation's most prestigious high school all-star game. In 2008 a record 30 U.S. Army All-Americans were selected in the NFL draft, including six first-round picks.
Bonds' family was part of a large crowd on hand to watch one of the nation's top players put on the U.S. Army All-American jersey.
When he took the podium, Bonds thanked his teammates, coaches and fellow students for the honor and supporting him throughout his high school career, and later spoke with reporters.
"I'm nervous, I'm excited," Bonds said. "I didn't say much (at the podium) because that's the way I am. I get nervous, but it's a good nervous. I was ecstatic when I got the phone call telling me I would be invited to U.S. Army All-American Bowl. There are a lot of NFL guys that have played in this game. Hopefully, I can be in their shoes someday."
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl kicks off on Sat., Jan. 3, 2009 at 1 p.m. ET at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be televised live on NBC.
"There are a million high school athletes in the nation and I'm being singled out," Bonds said. "I'm the only player from South Carolina playing, so there's a lot of weight on my shoulders. Hopefully, I'll go out there and perform like everybody hopes I do."
Bonds represents the second player Cavaliers head coach Jay Frye has coached that has played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Former teammate Gary Gray, a cornerback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, played in the prestigious game two years ago.
"Chris has worked hard for this honor," Frye said. "He's worked extremely hard in the classroom and extremely hard on the football field and in the weight room. He's done all we've asked him to do. It's a big honor for Chris and Richland Northeast High School."
Bonds has missed major portions of the last two seasons with a torn ACL and torn meniscus, but is still regarded as a major prospect by most Division I schools.
The only remaining question is which school will secure his services for the next four years. Bonds plans to visit Tennessee this weekend and is also considering Alabama, Notre Dame, Southern California and Michigan, as well as both of the major schools in the Palmetto State - South Carolina and Clemson.
"I've been going to South Carolina since my freshman year, so I'd love to stay here and be a Gamecock," Bonds said.