Jalen Kimber, of Schererville, was the only Indiana player "picked" for the seventh-grade game of the Football University-Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl held Jan. 4 inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Jalen returned the favor with a "pick" of his own.
While playing cornerback for the West squad, Jalen came up with an interception in the second half and returned it 10 yards. Jalen, who played football for the Tri Town Raiders Pop Warner program and plays basketball for Kahler Middle School, also recorded a solo tackle, but it wasn't enough to prevent the East team from winning, 41-15.
Like the eighth- and ninth-grade Eastbay "bowls," and the subsequent U.S. Army All-American Bowl featuring the top senior high school players in the country all held that weekend at the Alamodome, the seventh-grade game had a high representation of players from Texas, California, Florida, Arizona ... hotbed states for youth football.
Jalen earned his selection after catching the eyes of regional Football University scouts while playing for Tri Town, then advancing through a progressive series of invitation-only camps until finally making the West roster.
"Not only was Jalen the only player from Indiana (for the seventh-grade game), he was among the few selected from the Midwest for all the games," said Jalen's father, Art Kimber, who accompanied his son to San Antonio.
"It was very impressive," the elder Kimber said of the week in Texas. "The U.S. Army was there in big numbers with soldiers dressed in full uniform.
"It wasn't just about football. Throughout the week they emphasized to these young men the importance of conducting themselves as responsible adults off the field."