NBC Sports' Road to the Dome tour made a stop at Athens High School’s gym on Thursday during the pep rally for the Hornets' home game against Crandall.
They were in town to honor Hornet senior offensive lineman Garrett Hayes, who has been selected, not just as an All-American, but to also play in the annual All-American Bowl, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The game will be televised live on NBC on Saturday, Jan. 4 at noon from the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The All-American Bowl, which acts as a celebration and gathering of the 100 most talented high school players in the country, is the most watched high school event on national television every year, with more viewers than the McDonald’s All-American basketball game.
It has created stars out of many future college players like Tim Tebow, Trevor Lawrence and Jake Fromm along with NFL stars Andrew Luck, Ezekiel Elliott, Joe Thomas, Odell Beckham, Jr., Jalen Ramsey and Sam Darnold.
Hayes was honored before the pep rally with his own speech, along with one by head football coach Zac Harrell, as he received the black and gold #20 jersey that he will don at the game.
“This is a huge accomplishment by Garrett, for the team and all of the students,” said Harrell. “I've been coaching for 15 years and been around the game my whole life. It's a great privilege to coach an All-American athlete. Everyone knows he is a special athlete, he is very unique. In my book, what makes him an All-American is not just his athleticism, but it's his character and ability to put his teammates first in all situations. He's the most humble person I've been around and is truly a unique player.”
“This is a huge opportunity to play in this game,” said Hayes. “I thank my team for being around me the whole time. I appreciate all my fellow seniors, my coaches and everybody else for all of the support. I can't do this all by myself. Being an All-American is a big accomplishment.”