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October 5, 2010James Sample was watching last season's U.S. Army All-American Bowl and told his father that next year he'd be the one playing in the Alamodome.
His dad laughed, hopeful that his son would get his chance. Sample was serious and earned his invite months later.
"I watched the game last year and I told my dad I was going to play in that game next year when I was a senior and he said, 'No, you're not good enough,' but he was joking around," Sample said.
"A couple months later I found out I was elected to play in it and I said, 'I told you.' He started laughing."
Sample and Sacramento (Calif.) Grant teammate Viliami Moala, a four-star defensive tackle, were presented with their U.S. Army game jerseys Tuesday at their high school.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound hard-hitting safety said he cannot wait for San Antonio to test his skills against some of the nation's best players.
"It's real big for me because I'm one of the first players in Grant history to ever get elected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl so it's big for our school," Sample said. "It shows at Grant we have athletes who can play at a big bowl game.
"It's really exciting to me because I've never been down to San Antonio. I get to meet a lot of other players around the country so it's going to be fun when I get down there."
Playing with Moala and experiencing the weeklong festivities at the Army game also excites Sample, rated No. 14 at safety, No. 201 overall and No. 14 in the California state rankings by Rivals.com.
Moala, a massive 6-foot-2, 326-pound defensive tackle, is rated ninth at his position and No. 107 overall. Grant coach Mike Alberghini said Sample is a perfect hybrid prospect who has developed a reputation as a hard hitter.
"He's a young man who came on the scene last year and is a big hitter, is a guy that goes out and plays kind of like a linebacker at a defensive back position," Alberghini said.
"James is one of those guys that is a blend of speed and toughness and he's been a great addition to our team for sure and he's a great human being."
Sample said he and Moala will challenge each other all week in San Antonio and put bets on who can get the most tackles or who can start in the Army game, much like they do in Grant's games so far this season.
The duo - along with a bunch of other top prospects - are doing quite well since the Pacers are 5-0 and haven't been seriously challenged yet.
"He and I are challenging each other like who's going to make the most tackles in the game like we do now," Sample said. "We always have a bet or something going on like who can start in the U.S. Army bowl."
It's been all good news for Sample, who recently picked up an offer from Oregon State, is considering a bunch of other Pac-10 schools including Oregon, Washington, Cal, Arizona State and others, his team is playing well and in a few months will be heading to San Antonio for the U.S. Army game.
Just thinking about playing in the Alamodome excites the Grant standout. Soon it will be a reality.
"I can't even explain how that's going to be," Sample said. "It's like I'm already in The League."
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