January 1, 2012
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SAN ANTONIO - It's a pretty good gig for the players at check-in day at the Army All-American Bowl.
Players go from station to station, picking a snazzy uniform, new shoes, mouthguards, T-shirts, hats and other assorted freebies.
And when total strangers come up and ask to take your picture - often with their kids - the players know they have reached the big time.
Then they hit the autograph room. And they learn the true perils of stardom.
"I thought it was just a couple of things," Josh Harvey-Clemons of Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes said. "But they just kept coming."
Indeed. There are a few dozen footballs, some uniforms and helmets and hundreds of sports cards. More than 400 pieces in all.
"It's more writing than I do in school," Dominique Wheeler of Crockett (Texas) High said.
Everyone knows autograph seekers can be an annoyance - these guys found out it the process could lead to an injury. Many would stop midpoint, exercising their hand.
"I never knew it could hurt to write that much," Javonte Magee of San Antonio (Texas) Sam Houston.
Players can sign for up to an hour in an exercise some rated as harder than two-a-day practices. They left with a new appreciation for what they thought was a simple task.
"That was hell," Trey Williams of Spring (Texas) Dekaney said. "I'm not going to lie to you."
He was, however, going to make a vow.
"I swear I'll never ask anyone for an autograph after going through that," he said.
Compare to some, however, Williams had it easy.
Harvey-Clemons, after all, has two last names. But, like the five-star athlete he is, he adjusted to the play on the fly.
"In the end," he joked, "I just started writing Josh H."
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