Austin Noel had a stellar senior season on the gridiron for Delone Catholic High last year, but it os not time for Noel to hang up his pads just yet.
Noel traveled to Tampa, Fla., on Thursday to participate in today's Blue-Grey National All Star Classic, hosted by Blue-Grey Events.
He is one of 98 players who will participate in the 8 p.m. game that will host more than 200 college scouts at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers..
He will be playing for head coach Vernon Turner, who was a running back in the NFL for six seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions and Buccaneers.
"The opportunity to me is one of the biggest things," Noel said. "This coaching staff is going to teach me things that I have never been taught before that will help me at the college level. It is going to be an honor to be playing at that stadium and to be coached by guys who have played in the NFL."
Noel and teammates Lance Reneker and Nick Braun headed to Philadelphia last summer to participate in an combine that Blue-Grey Events holds at the Eagles' indoor facility. Noel, Reneker and Braun performed well enough that they were invited to another combine in Boston at the New England Patriots' indoor facility.
"It was crazy getting to go to those facilities," Noel said. "All the coaches that were there were all college scouts. The facilities were amazing. They were huge."
After a grueling 2 1/2-month wait, Noel found out he had been selected to the team.
"It was sort of a long process," he said. "But it was worth waiting for."
At the combine, Noel performed the bench press, ran the 40-yard dash and performed the broad jump and one-on-one drills.
"I think O did best at the bench," he said. "We did 185 pounds and I did that 24 times. That was one of the top in my group. I did really good in the one-on-one drills also. I think I caught every pass thrown to me. The other things I did OK in. I had an average 40 time. The bench and one-on-one I did the best at and I think that is what helped me get into the game."
Despite playing tight end at the combine, Noel said he will most likely play defensive end or linebacker in the game.
"When we went to the combine, we had to hand in film of some games last season and the film they saw of me, I was playing defensive end," he said.
Uncertain where he will attend college next year, The Associated Press Class A All-State linebacker knows he will play football, something he hopes the All-Star game will assist.
"I applied and have talk to the coaches at East Stroudsburg, Albright, Bloomsburg and Shippensburg," Noel said. "They all came into school and talked to me and some of the other football players on our team. Hopefully, in Saturday's game, I will play well enough to catch the attention of some of the colleges that are there."
Usually a cool character, Noel admits stepping on the field of an NFL stadium might bring more jitters than usual, but he is excited to see how he stacks up against some of the top players in the country.
"I will probably play this game the hardest I have ever played," he said. "I am not used to playing against all these bigger guys. Most will be 6-foot-3-plus in height. I think I am going to be really competitive and leave it all on the field. This will help give me an idea of the speed I will see in college."
A district championship and a trip to play in an All-Star game in Florida is a pretty nice way to end a high school playing career.
"This is a great way to end it," Noel said. "I couldn't imagine it ending any better. It just shows what a lot of hard work in the offseason can do."
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