words_Cheryl Mathis

Eastbay Youth All-American BowlReading through our Youth All-American Bowl roster bios feels like sitting on a big coach bus with a cacophony of pump-up music and “my 40’s better than yours” taunts. These elite seventh and eighth grade football players might have a lot of frenetic youthful energy, but they are doing something right. Each was carefully chosen for the honor of a spot on the roster.

Developing star football players is a big business, and many kids aren’t waiting until high school to start training. Even before puberty kicks in, they’re starting to learn the ins and outs of nutrition and cardio, and they’re learning about teamwork, effort and attitude.

NUTRITION

While pizza and chicken nuggets were a popular choice as a pre-game meal, over 45 kids load up on carbs with plates piled high with pasta. Among the smaller players who are either short and thin or tall and thin, a pre-game meal might be a steak and a whey protein shake like Hunter Holland, a guard from Buford, Georgia. Jacob Harrison, a quarterback from Centerfield, Ohio, has the same idea: he downs a peanut butter protein shake before a game. The other extreme might be 320-pound Demetrius Morgan, a tackle from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He preps with two bananas and a lot of water.

WEIGHT

The range of heights and weights among seventh and eighth graders might seem like an inconsequential matter, but when you’re putting together a squad of elite players, you have to find a place for players at all stages of development. Demetrius from Tennessee probably hasn’t been able to play much football before this Bowl game due to his size, but his shear bulk is a force on the field. You won’t find a 150-pounder like Jalen Washington from Frankfort, Kentucky, pulling down a linebacker, but his skills as a runningback are coveted, and he’ll be lining up with Demetrius on Sunday in Game 2.

MOTIVATION

All good athletes know that the right soundtrack can make or break your attitude when the storm is coming. The majority of the Youth roster gets psyched for the game by jamming to the same tunes. Eminem’s Lose Yourself and Til I Collapse ranked as a player favorite, with Fort Minor’s Remember the Name showing strong as well. Listening to Kanye’s Stronger and Roy Jones, Jr.’s Can’t Be Touched gives them a buzz of invincibility that’ll carry them through to game time.

FAVORITE PLAYERS

When asked who their favorite athletes were, some big names were mentioned most. Superstars like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Chris Johnson prove that quarterbacks aren’t the only players who get the fame. College standout Cam Newton was also mentioned; his recent Heisman trophy honor put him in the “idol” category for many youth players. Current NFL standouts like Michael Vick and Charles Woodson have been all over the news for good reason, and that attention extends to this crop of athletes who look to them for inspiration.

Read more about the students chosen to play in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, and don’t forget to come back on Sunday to watch the games live at Eastbay.

Wondering where you stack up against these elite Bowl players? Enter your stats in our Close the Gap calculator and get back advice on training, drills and equipment that can help you close the gap between you and the Bowlers.