Team USA faces France in the opening round of the IFAF Junior World Championship on Saturday, June 27.
EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Michigan State incoming freshmen Chris Norman, a linebacker from Detroit Renaissance, and Micajah Reynolds, an offensive lineman from Lansing Sexton, have been selected to represent Team USA in the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship, scheduled for June 27-July 5 in Canton , Ohio . Norman and Reynolds are among 45 players expected to report Saturday, June 13 to USA Footballâ€™s training camp at Walsh University in North Canton . Team USA , coached by Cleveland St . Ignatius High School head coach Chuck Kyle, conducts its first practice on Sunday, June 14.
Team USA â€™s 45-man roster, comprised of players 19 and under, represents 33 different college football programs.
The inaugural tournament features teams from eight nations, spanning four continents: Canada , France , Germany , Japan , Mexico , New Zealand , Sweden and United States . All tournament games will be played in Fawcett Stadium, located adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton .
â€œThere are very few times in life that you have an opportunity to represent your country, so this is a special time for Chris Norman and Micajah Reynolds,â€ Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. â€œI know that both of these young men are excited about competing on an international stage.
â€œUSA Football has assembled an outstanding coaching staff, so Chris and Micajah will be given an opportunity to learn from some of the nationâ€™s very best high school coaches.â€
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Norman earned prep All-America honors while also being named a high school finalist for the 2008 Butkus Award. He was ranked among the stateâ€™s top seniors by the Lansing State Journal (No. 2), Rivals.com (No. 3), Detroit Free Press (No. 3) and The Detroit News (No. 10). A three-year starter for Coach Antonio Watts at Detroit Renaissance, Norman recorded 109 tackles (51 solos, 58 assists) in 2008, with 34 resulting in losses including 6.5 sacks (58 yards). The Associated Press first-team all-state selection posted double-figure tackles in six games as a senior, including a career-best 18 stops against Mumford (two sacks for 19 yards).
â€œThis is a great opportunity to play against these different countries and their different styles of play,â€ Norman said. â€œIâ€™m both excited and curious about the tournament.
â€œItâ€™s certainly a great honor to represent the United States . Early in my playing career, I would have considered attending West Point , so I could play football and also represent my country. I have so much respect for my country that this truly is a great thrill.
â€œThis tournament experience should be a benefit as I prepare to attend preseason camp at Michigan State in August. I already will have been introduced to two-a-days and learning how to carry my pads during preparation for the Junior World Championship.
â€œThese practices and games also should be a plus from a conditioning standpoint,â€ Norman continued. â€œIâ€™m also excited about working with a great Team USA coaching staff. Iâ€™ll play close attention to detail, especially during position drills, so hopefully, it will have a carryover into preseason camp.â€
The 6-5, 310-pound Reynolds was named to SuperPrepâ€™s and PrepStarâ€™s All-Midwest Teams. He also was rated among the stateâ€™s top seniors by the Detroit Free Press (No. 11), Lansing State Journal (No. 17), The Detroit News (No. 18) and Rivals.com (No. 20). A two-year, two-way starter for Coach Dan Boggan at Lansing Sexton, Reynolds anchored an offensive line that helped the Big Reds average 260 rushing yards and 27.5 points per game in 2008. He recorded 37 pancake blocks as a senior. Reynolds also saw action in six games at defensive tackle in 2008 and produced 40 tackles, including three sacks.
â€œItâ€™s a great feeling knowing that Iâ€™m one of 45 players representing my country in the Junior World Championship,â€ Reynolds said. â€œIâ€™m also very excited about meeting my USA Football teammates, who come from so many different conferences. This tournament provides Team USA with an opportunity to showcase the best players in our country to the rest of the world.
â€œMy approach will be to get a little better as a player after every meeting and after every practice. I know this tournament is going to be very demanding from a physical standpoint since Team USA will play three games in nine days. Iâ€™ve heard that nothing can truly prepare me for Michigan State â€™s preseason camp, but I do believe this tournament will give me a good head start. The pros to the experience will be that Iâ€™ll certainly be better prepared both mentally and physically for preseason camp.
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to getting to know my future MSU teammate Chris Norman better,â€ Reynolds continued. â€œI know that weâ€™ll encourage each other as we both prepare to do all that we can to help Team USA win a championship. Chris has a great attitude and work ethic, so Iâ€™m sure that heâ€™ll be ready to get after it when practice begins tomorrow.â€
Players selected for USA Footballâ€™s Junior National Team were nominated by high school and college coaches from across the country. Roster spots were ultimately determined by USA Footballâ€™s coaching staff, which collectively possesses 33 state titles and 155 seasons of head coaching experience.
Team USA will face France in the opening round of the IFAF Junior World Championship on Saturday, June 27, with kickoff set for 8 p.m.