Scout.com's No. 7-rated defensive end Ben Martin of La Salle High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) had…
In front of the LaSalle student body, Martin (6-5, 255) was recognized for his accomplishments by the Army and LaSalle as well as former Cincinnati Bengal and NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz and current Bengal Andrew Whitworth.
"I am kind of on cloud nine right now. I still can't believe it," said Martin. "It is a great honor to be selected from countless high school players and I feel real honored. I feel thankful for what I have right now and what I have been blessed with. I can't thank my coaches and my mom and everybody who helped me get to this point enough. It is all because of them I am what I am today."
Martin, who is currently ranked by Ohio High magazine as the top senior in Ohio and is rated by Scout.com as the No. 38 overall prospect in the country, is one of 80 players selected nationwide for the game.
"I think it is great recognition for the young men," said Munoz. "For Ben, it is the national spotlight. He gets to go out there and play on NBC with 80 of the top high school All-Americans.
"And the fact that the Army is involved in this speaks volumes. The Army is here trying to help young people with all the things they talk about with commitment and teamwork. As far as LaSalle High School and Ben Martin, it is a great opportunity for them to be in the national spotlight it is a great opportunity as Ben finishes high school and moves onto college.
Martin never expected All-American honors
"Most guys have played all their lives and they don't get this kind of recognition, so I guess I just got lucky," he said.
As one of the top players in the country, Martin is getting recruited by all the heavy hitters in college football but has narrowed his decision down to Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida.
He is scheduled to visit South Bend this weekend.
"I am planning on visiting all the schools," he said. "It is a tough process to go through right now and I am just trying to nail things down and make it not as confusing as possible to try to find a place where I can fit in for the next three or four years.
"After I make all my visits and I can just see myself playing and being around the people there, I will probably decide," he added. "For me, they are all kind of neck-and-neck with each other. I have been to the schools but I haven't been involved enough in each program yet to feel like I am real comfortable in one particular spot yet. I am just going to take my visits and see how it goes."
(L-R) Anthony Munoz, Ben Martin, LaSalle head coach Tom Grippa, Cincinnati Bengal Andrew Whitworth
While he projects as a defensive end at the next level, Martin has been moved to middle linebacker this season and is still learning the position.
"I am a lot better than I was the first week but I am still not where I want to be with my reads and things. But it is clicking a lot better now," he said. "So, I think I am better than I am but I could always get a lot better. Hopefully I will be better this week than last week and lead my team to a victory."
LaSalle faces a tough challenge this week in Cincinnati St. Xavier (5-1). The Bombers only loss this season was a 25-22 overtime loss to Lakeland (Fla.) in the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge. Lakeland is currently ranked No. 3 in the country by USA Today.
"St. X is a great team. You can't take anything away from them – great backs, great offensive line," Martin said. "It is going to be a dogfight. They are not coming in laying down and we're not going to lay down either. I am prepared for a fight. It is going to be a tough game and probably come down to the last few minutes or seconds of the game. It will be up to us to make big plays and just try to hold them down."
LaSalle is currently 3-3 on the season.
In addition to excelling on the gridiron, Martin carries a 3.4 GPA.
"When you look at student athletes, you want to look at more than just there athletic ability," said Munoz. "You want to look at the total person. And even in today's sports you hear about those who step out of line. But I think this is very important because you have the whole student body here and his classmates and everyone is looking up to him. You have to realize as an athlete that people are looking up to you and you are a role model regardless of whether you like that term or not. You're a role model not only to teammates but to siblings and the community.
"It is a pretty awesome responsibility that you have so I think the fact that you can conduct yourself with class and character and integrity on the field as well as off the field means a lot."