The All-American Bowl announced this week that it is set to allow high school juniors to play in their game. This breaks a quarter-of-a-century of tradition where the bowl marked the final game in the high school career of many of the nation’s top players.
Now, the game will feature top junior and senior players.
The longest-running high school football all-star game, the All-American Bowl is played every year at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game airs annually on NBC, which is the owner-operator of the event.
One of the challenges of bowl games is keeping up with the landscape of college sports. Blue chip recruits, especially the high-level types who play in all-star games like the prestigious All-American Bowl, are likely to decide well before the game in January.
And with an ever-increasing number of players enrolling early, some players opt not to play in these postseason games because they are already on campus and enrolled in college.
“Given the changing landscape at the collegiate level, our senior participants are graduating high school earlier and enrolling in and attending college as early as December. As a result, the All-American Bowl is pivoting to now include top juniors for the upcoming 2025 All-American Bowl,” said Jon Miller, President, Acquisitions and Partnerships of NBC Sports in a press release. “This change will allow more top juniors to make their college declarations on network television.”
The All-American Bowl, first played in 1994, has featured a number of players who went on to star in college and the NFL. Notable alumni of the game include Antonio Alfano, Odell Beckham Jr., Stefon Diggs, Trevor Lawrence, Andrew Luck, Christian McCaffrey, Tim Tebow and Vince Young.
The bowl game created the concept of the commitment table, with players making their college decisions publicly known during the game’s broadcast. Presumably with juniors now playing in the game, the commitment table could gain a new level of importance as players continue to move up the timeline for their decisions.