Three Brownwood Lions are among the 400 high school football players across the country nominated to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which will take place at noon on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Quarterback Casey Pachall, defensive back Kenny Vaccaro and offensive lineman Stavion Lowe — who will all be seniors next season — received word earlier this week of their nominations. Of the 400 players nominated, 90 will be selected to take part in the high school showcase which will be broadcast nationally by NBC.

Brownwood — which move to Class 3A next season — tied for the most nominations from a single high school with its three.

“Any kind of honor that comes our way with our kids speaks well for our program,” said Lions head football coach Steve Freeman. “Several factors go into these formulas and one of the factors is these kids work hard and they work hard together. There’s also some God-given talent that came along at birth. These kids know to whom much is given much is expected. Nothing comes free. These kids, up to this point, they’ve had good, solid careers for the Brownwood Lions and they still have another year to go.”

According to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl’s official Web site, every high school senior in the country is eligible for selection. The selection process kicks off at the U.S. Army National Combine and proceeds across the country during various combines, camps and clinics — including Football University.

The selection committee evaluates thousands of the nation’s top prospects on an annual basis. Following the evaluation period, the selection committee officially nominates the nation’s top 400 seniors in the spring to be considered for selection to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Of the 400 nominees, 90 U.S. Army All-Americans are selected and invited to play in the annual East versus West showdown. Every U.S. Army All-American must be in good standing with their school and community in order to be considered for selection.

“It’s an honor to be nominated because it’s such a prestigious event,” Vaccaro said. “Many great athletes over the years have played in that game. It means something if you get nominated and it means even more if you get to play in it.”

Added Lowe, “It’s a great thing to have a part in. You’d like to follow in the footsteps of other legends that went to that game.”

In years past, some participants in the game have made their college plans known during the contest. Two of Brownwood’s three nominees have already announced their verbal commitments as Pachall is headed for TCU, while Vaccaro is bound for Texas. Lowe, meanwhile, is still weighing his options.

“It gets stressful,” Lowe said of recruiting, “but I’m going to take my time and see what’s actually out there. When I make my decision, I want to be comfortable with it.”

Pachall and Vaccaro stated that having the recruiting process behind them helps improve their focus on the task at hand — the 2008 Brownwood Lions football season.

“It eases some stress and that helps a lot,” Pachall said.

Added Vaccaro, “We’re glad it’s over, but then again you start missing it because you don’t get as many letters or as much attention. But I’m comfortable with the place I selected.”

For many of the players selected to compete, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl provides fans their first glimpse of what to expect from the newest additions to their respective universities.

“It would be great to be seen,” Pachall said of the impact that comes from playing in the game. “Kenny and I have already made our decisions, but this still gives us exposure and gets our names out there.”

The Lions are less than three weeks away from the start of 7-on-7 action, which begins Saturday, May 31 with a trip to the 3A state qualifier in Gatesville. The Lions will also compete in 4A/5A state qualifiers at Lake Travis (June 7), Abilene (June 14) and the annual Brownwood event (June 21).

Two-a-days then begin Aug. 4, while the season opener against Burnet — part of the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Kickoff Classic — is set for 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30 at the Alamodome.

“We’re feeling really good right now,” Pachall said. “We’ve got some new people in new places, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. We’re going to adjust and get things rolling.”

Added Vaccaro, “We’re going to look at it the same way we went into last year and not even think about it being 3A. We’ve been over the toughest hills and it’s going to be another tough hill. We’ll just be playing against teams with less players.”