After a successful inaugural year, the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl selection committee has started the process of inviting deserving athletes to the 2013 game.
On Saturday, two of California's top prospects received their invites: Fresno (Calif.) Central defensive backs L.J. Moore and Hatari Byrd.
"It's great to know that I'm one of the first people put in the game. I saw last year's game and I'm glad to be a part of it," said Moore.
Byrd echoed the sentiment. "I'm really happy to get the invitation," he said.
The players' coach, Tony Perry, is one of the top defensive back coaches in the state, having coached players such as Ricky Manning, Jr., Cliff Harris, and Robert Golden during his 25 year tenure. Two of Perry's players last season, wide receiver Deontay Greenberry and defensive back Tee Shepard, played in the Semper Fi Bowl 2012 game.
"There are some great guys involved in this game and they have always treated my kids well when they've come to the camps. It's always been like a family atmosphere," he said.
Perry was enthusiastic about having two more players invited to play in the game.
"It was big for the kids to get the invitation. They went down to the Combine last year in Phoenix and then watched their friends Tee Shepard and Deontay Greenberry play in the game. It was a very competitive game, 17-14, and they had a lot of fun," he said.
Moore, who says that Shepard and Greenberry are "like big brothers", is looking forward to bringing his talents to Phoenix.
"I can run and I play really physical at the line. I have a lot of heart and I don't let anybody say anything to me. I'm really aggressive," he said.
Perry is impressed at how much Moore has grown as a player during the past few seasons, and it's shown: he currently has offers from UCLA, Houston, Tulane, California, Washington, Oregon State, Georgia, among others.
"L.J. has only been playing defensive back for two years; I moved him there his sophomore year, and it worked out well for him. He's a long-rangey kid, a 6'9" high-jumper. He's just getting so much better, it's crazy, and he's a really good kid," said Perry.
The 6'2", 200 lb. Byrd looks as if he could already play college ball and uses his size as an advantage to the position.
"My biggest strengths are my covering skills and my strength. I can move fast for my size. We all compete every day, and every day we get better against each other," he said.
Byrd also has a wide range of offers, which include Ole Miss, Georgia, Notre Dame, Washington, California, and Arizona State.
"It's unbelievable how far Hatari has come. He's a kid who works hard in the off-season and puts a lot of work in. Guarding little receivers for how big as he is is very hard; he's learned to cover, which a lot of safeties can't do," said Perry.
Coach Perry is excited about what comes next for both of his players.
"They both have a lot of room to improve, and that's big. If you're where they are and have got room to improve, you have a bright future," he said.