While watching the highlights of Under-16 U.S. Select’s Carlos Cervantes during International Bowl X, you could almost hear the music of NFL Films playing―he played with old-school intensity. The linebacker was like a guided missile, honing in on Mexico Norte’s running backs or quarterback and taking them down. He was one of the big reasons that the U.S. won 29-22, with six tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“Carlos was a wrecking crew all over the field making tackles!” declared U.S. Select teammate Milon M Jones, who scored a 15-yard touchdown run. Both young men also play for their hometown Marietta (Ga.) High School.
While this was the second year that the 5’9”, 187-lb. Cervantes was picked to represent the U.S., he was still nervous.
“I had a lot of butterflies stepping onto the Dallas Cowboys stadium [AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas],” he said. “This is where the pros in the NFL showcase their skills, and I feel blessed to have the same opportunity wearing the red, white, and blue.
, “In the second half, I knew I had to make some plays or else we possibly could have lost that game, and that's when things started to come together. We as a team started feeding off each other,” he continued. “For me, I think when I sacked the QB for a loss when he tried to run outside was the play that started it all.”
In addition to winning the game, Cervantes loved the overall experience of the event.
“Besides playing on a nationally ranked high school football team in front of thousands, I must admit I had the same feeling and excitement in Dallas,” he said, adding, “There are no football camps that do it like USA football!”
When asked what he enjoyed about the week, he replied, “The check-in process with the player videos and gear we got was just amazing, and seeing all my friends/teammates that I made friendships with at last year’s International Bowl was a great experience. Also, celebrating the win with all my teammates at the end of the game. And of course, all the great food and restaurants that Arlington, Texas, provides.”
He was also taught well by the U.S. Select coaching staff. “I learned some great stances and also learned some great linebacker techniques as well as learning to read my keys.” He said. “[They] did a phenomenal job.”
During the game, he was impressed by “my teammate/brother Milon Jones who made the team with me, and running the rock the way he did and scored the first touchdown for us─I thought was really impressive," he said. "Jacob Gibbons from [Rumford] Rhode Island also impressed me with his running-back skills and footwork; David Mapalo [Albuquerque N.M.], who played corner, plays the ball very well and has a great football IQ; and Collin Clagg [Hernando, Miss.], who played middle linebacker─we communicated very well and got the job done.”
When looking ahead, Cervantes said, “My future plans for the next three years are staying on the grind; staying in weight room, getting better at my technique at the linebacker position and trying to possibly be the best I can be to help my Marietta Blue Devils win a state championship. In the spring, I will be only attending college camps, and I will be sticking with only USA football all the way until I graduate─there is no experience or program like it.”
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