Road to NFL Often Starts at High School Bowl Game

Small company identifies future stars
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2008 1:35 PM CDT
East player Terrelle Pryor attempts to evade West player Kyle Prater during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl football game, Jan. 5, 2008. Pryor has been billed as the next coming of Vince Young.    (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
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(Newser) – For many of the top prospects in this year’s NFL draft, the path to stardom didn’t begin in college. Instead, it started at the US Army All-American Bowl, an annual high-school all-star game that’s been remarkably good at spotting future NFL talent. Since 2005, 69 participants have reached the pros; this year, 28 are expected to go, with seven projected as first-rounders.

All of this is handled by SportsLink, a small company started in 2000 by an unlikely pair of former polticial operatives in New Jersey. The company, one of many trying to find a way to make big money off high-school sports, relies on a long-time scout who logs 60,000 miles a year evaluating prospects, a tricky prospect for players so young. "A kid can dominate, and then they stop growing," he said. (Read more football stories.)