The journey to the highest levels of football can take a player through several different roads to complete the trip. In many cases, a player transitions through youth football, to middle school, and to high school. Then, there could be the opportunity to play in college and the select few that get to play in the professional ranks such as the NFL, CFL, Arena Football, and starting this February, the new XFL.
Sometimes, that road for a player can include participating in the USA Football U.S. National Team program. A player starts the process by going to one of many regional camps around the country and then middle school athletes get selected to play in the Middle School Bowl Game Series, while high school players get invited to the U.S. National Team Training Camps. This ultimately gives those athletes an opportunity to compete for a spot on a roster for the International Bowl.
Former Ole Miss defensive lineman Herbert Moore is an example of a a player that has worn the red, white and blue and is now enjoying a professional football career playing for the New York Streets of the National Arena League. Before moving on to college football, Moore played for the U.S. National Team in the 2012 International Bowl, an experience he still enjoys reflecting on.
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“It was great,” said Moore who was invited to participate in the XFL Summer Showcase this past Saturday in Houston. “I’m still friends with a lot of the guys from that team. They treated us like college kids those two weeks.”
This year, the U.S. National Team training camps will take place June 19th to 21st in Canton, Ohio and July 6th to 8th in Arlington, Texas. After the camps, players will be chosen to represent their country on a big stage. It’s a three-day, five practice shells camp that helps high school athletes’ skill development. These camps provide high level teaching, athlete development, and film sessions with college coaches as a chance to prepare a high school player for the next level.
“It’s your first taste on how it feels being in a college program,” said Moore. “I had multiple schools call me after watching me in that game. So, it can be used as a stepping stone if taken seriously.’
Six former members of the U.S. National Team took part in this year’s NFL Scouting Combine including former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins who was selected with the 15th pick in the first round by the Washington Redskins. The list of NFL alumni that played for the U.S. National Team includes Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback James Winston, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquille Griffin, and Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu.
But the U.S. National Team isn’t just a potential pathway to the NFL. There are a lot of good football players in this country and some of them will head north to play in Canada. Others will get the opportunity to stay in the United States to play in the Arena Football League, National Arena League, or the Indoor Football League. Moore’s hard work this season with the Streets earned him a chance to move up to the XFL and his time with the U.S. National Team is a reason why he is still in pursuit of his dream to play at the highest level.
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He still smiles today when asked about wearing that USA jersey.
“It means a lot,” said Moore. “I’m not where I want to be yet but working every day to make sure I get there. I think everyone that gets to play for Team USA is special and has great character.”
So as Middle School and High School athletes get ready to travel to Canton and Arlington this summer to help take their games to the next level, there are many examples of how the U.S. National Team program can be a great building block for a young football player. There are opportunities out there for players to go to college and then onto professional football and for some of them, that journey includes putting on the red, white and blue.
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His son Bradley plays middle school football on Long Island and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.