It turns out San Francisco wasn’t the only place to find football on Super Bowl weekend earlier this month. Some of the best high school talent in the country found itself on display at Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium for the annual International Bowl.
Windsor High School Running Back Brandon Fouts was chosen to play in the game for USA Football against Team Canada. Fouts follows other recent St. Louis area players who have participated in the program, including Chase Abbington, now a running back at the University of Missouri, and Christian Perez, now a QB at O’Fallon Township HS.
We asked Fouts to reflect on the experience, how he got there and what he hopes happens next.
My journey to the USA International Bowl started way back to May of 2014, when I went to a Regional Camp in Kansas City, MO. My parents were helping me try to find football camps to help me get better for the upcoming season, and we happened to stumble across USA Football. My mom instantly wanted me to sign up because USA Football just sounds top notch, and sounds promising. So, off we went and that was my first taste of USA Football.
It wasn’t until May of 2015 when I attended another Regional Camp in Indianapolis, IN, that everything started to snowball in my favor.
There are currently 27 Regional Camps throughout the U.S. If you do well at one of the Regional Camps, then you will get invited to attend one of the National Development Games – and there are 4 locations for the National Games throughout the U.S. If you do well at the National Games, you will get invited to attend the International Bowl in February and play against Canada. There are age groups ranging from U14 through U19, only U16-U19 play Canada though.
I wasn’t aware of any of this going into the first camp in 2014. I did my research and going into the second camp, I knew so much more about USA Football and what they were all about. I made sure I trained hard before attending the camp and I worked my tail off.
I guess my hard work paid off and I caught the coaches eyes at the Regional Camp in Indiana and I was invited to the National Development Games in the summer of 2015. I attended the Games in College Station, TX from July 13 – July 18, and that was incredible. All of the athletes go down for a week, not knowing each other, get divided into teams, learn their playbook, and play against each other at the end of the week on live T.V on ESPN 3. I ended up scoring the first touchdown for my team in that game, from 12 yards out, and we went on to win 24-3.
Once again, I caught the coaches eyes and they invited me to play running back, #28 for the U17 team in the International Bowl in February. Once my parents and I received the email in September, it was the best news we had ever heard. My goodness I was stoked. Right away, we were all on board and began fundraising for the trip.
The 2016 International Bowl was held in Arlington, Texas in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, from January 31 through February 5 . My game was on February 5. That information alone is enough to make any athlete get butterflies.
I kicked up my training a couple of notches because I obviously wanted to do well and succeed in this game. We ended up raising the money and off I went to the International Bowl.
I got down there February 1, and so did the rest of my team. This game had the same format. My whole team went down to Texas not really knowing each other and not knowing how we all play, and we had to learn our playbook in four days and play on the fifth. We all stayed at the Fairfield Inn, ate together, practiced together, and all had fun together. We all formed a bond as a team and I think that really helped us in our game.
The game itself was just a whole new experience. To be able to make a play and look up at the huge jumbo-tron and see yourself was just unbelievable. Just to even be able to play on NFL turf was amazing – it actually is a whole lot nicer than any turf I’ve ever played on. The stands weren’t packed but there were a decent amount of fans on one side and that was unreal looking up at the stadium seats instead of the press box at my high school.
We got up to a quick lead and ended the first quarter 19-0. I scored the fourth touchdown of the game to put us up 25-0 in the second quarter. That was by far the best experience of my life. All of my hard work up to that point paid off. I can’t even describe the feeling I had at the time, knowing I had just scored a touchdown for team USA against Canada, in AT&T Stadium. We went on to win the game 49-7, and I ended up second on the team in rushing yards with 29 on 5 carries – the leader had 47 yards.
The whole experience was the best experience of my life. There is just no better feeling than being able to represent your country, playing the game you love, against some of the best competition in the world. Scoring a touchdown with the letters USA across my chest, in AT&T Stadium was just the icing on the cake.
I don’t know for sure if there were recruits there or not, but I hope this gets me noticed one way or another. I’ve been working extremely hard trying to get my name out there to colleges, because that is my ultimate goal, to play college football. The only thing I can do right now though is continue to work as hard as I can in the classroom and in the weight room. I will continue to try and get colleges to look at me and hope they see something they like.
After attending an International Bowl, I believe you get invited to the National Games again without having to attend a Regional Camp. I plan on going to the games in College Station again, as well as International Bowl next year. I plan to continue to work extremely hard to get better and better every day. Next year I want 2+ touchdowns in the International Bowl Game.