Staff Sgt. Jesus Salazar, a soldier with ties to the Lawton community is mentoring high school football players in the upcoming 13th US Army All American Bowl.

Sgt. Salazar was born and raised in Lawton and graduated from Eisenhower High School in 1993. Salazar is the son of former residents Jess and Darlene Salazar. He also comes from a long line of family members who have served in the military.

While in Eisenhower, Salazar played football and was a nose guard for the Eagles and had aspirations to play for the NFL during his high school career.

“It was always the goal, to be part of the elite and go to the NFL and play,” he said. “But now I’m really looking forward to see one of these young athletes move on to the NFL.”

Salazar explained that life had different plans for him after graduating from IKE.

“A lot of people that I grew up with liked getting in trouble and were not really doing too much with themselves,” Salazar said. “My father had better expectations for me and I took it upon myself to do something that was going to make him proud.”

Salazar explained that he does not regret his decision in joining in the Army for it has taught him patience.

“It’s taught me to never give up and not be afraid to take my time and just know that with hard work, dedication and sacrifice anything is possible ,” he said.

Salazar has been with the Army for 16 years including 12 with the military police. He has been deployed to Iraq during the War on Terror, and has also been deployed in Cuba and Kuwait. Salazar is now currently stationed at Houston for recruiting assignment with the Houston Recruiting Batallion.

As a volunteer mentor in the All-American Bowl Salazar mentors the student athletes and he shares the skills he learned in the Army and passes them down to the players. He is excited to be able to teach the young athletes what the Army has taught him with the skills and attributes that the athletes already have.

Salazar says he is currently looking to see if any students from Lawton or the surrounding areas made it to the bowl but so far he has yet to find someone.

This bowl is the nation’s premier high school football game which features some of the nation’s best in an East and West face-off in the San Antonio’s Alamodome and will be broadcast live Saturday at noon on NBC.

The All-American Bowl also highlights the nation's top high school marching band musicians and color guard members. The bowl has produced more than 180 NFL players and 54 first-round picks.

Last year the game drew a crowd of crowd of 39,011 attendees. This year’s bowl will have thousands more in attendance with millions more watching the action on NBC.