Columbus East running back Markell Jones was named Friday as one of five Indiana football players nominated to the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“When you get that kind of recognition, it definitely makes you work harder,” said Jones, who rushed for 2,653 yards and scored 43 touchdowns in East’s 15-0 season. “I am very familiar with the game, and I know that Gunner Kiel and Stevie Brown both played in that game.”
Both Columbus East graduates, Kiel plays quarterback for the University of Cincinnati, while Brown is a defensive back for the New York Giants.
The other four Indiana players nominated were Josh Barajas, a linebacker at Andrean High School in Merrillville; Levante Bellamy, a running back for Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis; Darrin Kirkland Jr., a linebacker at Lawrence Central in Indianapolis; and Brandon Tiassum, a defensive lineman at Park Tudor in Indianapolis.
Four hundred athletes, who will be seniors, are nominated, and that group is cut to 90 who will be invited to play for the East or the West in the game, which will be played Jan. 3 in San Antonio.
Among All-American Bowl alumni are Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Jones is coming off a spectacular season in which he helped lead Columbus East to the Class 4A state championship.
Although he currently has scholarship offers from Purdue, Western Michigan, Indiana State, Miami of Ohio and Ball State, among others, Jones said he probably won’t make his college choice until after his senior football season.
“I’m not even close to making a decision,” he said Friday.
He said the All-American Bowl nomination can only help his recruiting process.
“The All-American Bowl is the biggest thing for young high school athletes, and I know coaches look at that.”
Although he has yet to take an official visit, he has unofficially visited Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Purdue and Louisville, among others. He said schools such as Minnesota and Iowa have expressed interest.
Despite all the attention, Jones said the process has not been stressful.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “There is no pressure at all.”
Jones is running track this spring, mainly to keep in condition, and he said he wishes he would have joined the Olympians track squad years ago. He also has private workouts with former East quarterback Dusty Kiel.
All the selections for the All-American Bowl will be announced by early December.