CRETE | Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan said his idol is San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.
One day, Morgan may be playing on Sundays like Willis a six-time All-Pro selection.
"He has been my idol since I was little," Morgan said. "He is a lot like me in a lot of ways with his speed attribute, closing speed, awareness on the field, so I kind of looked up to him growing up and modeled myself after him."
Morgan, one of the top prep linebackers in the country, was awarded the No. 14 jersey on Tuesday and will join the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 4, 2014 in San Antonio.
The game will be televised live on NBC (Ch. 5) at noon.
It is the third straight year a Crete-Monee football player has made All-America.
Anthony Standifer made the 2012 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Phoenix. He signed with Ole Miss, but left the team last week, according to an Ole Miss spokesman.
Laquon Treadwell was an Under Armour All-American and is a freshman at Ole Miss.
"This is a true blessing. I put a lot of hard work and time into this as did my parents, teammates and coaches as well," Morgan said. "Hopefully, we can get a 2015 kid in here one day."
Morgan was The Times defensive player of the year in 2012 as he helped lead the Warriors to the Class 6A title. This year, he has 32 solos, 14 assists and five tackles-for-loss despite missing the season opener with a sore knee.
Morgan put on his U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game jersey and looked at his parents, Velma Sells and Thomas Morgan, the audience that included his teammates, and felt as humbled as the many running backs he's hit.
"I am honored to be an Army All-American," Morgan told the crowd. "I support our armed forces and this is a great way to end my prep career."
He looks forward to playing in San Antonio on Jan. 4.
"There is a lot of trash talk going on back and forth, but I am looking forward to playing with and against the best," Morgan said.
He said 37 schools have offered and had narrowed it down to six schools, but re-opened the process.
"The reason I did that is because I felt I wasn't ready to narrow it down to the right choice," Morgan said. "I will probably narrow it back down after the season."
At least after the state playoffs as the Warriors are chasing another title.