116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON - Standing in front of the Army Bowl backdrop holding the hard-earned jersey, Tristan Wirfs' hands are shaking as cameras flash.
Mount Vernon's favorite son is getting introduced to play in an all-star football game of elite high school players.
As soon as he was able, Wirfs was throwing and punting footballs in his backyard. When he was old enough to play on a flag football team, he joined without hesitation.
'I've loved football since I was little,” he said. 'Sports have been my life growing up and football was always at the top. Playing in the NFL has been and will always be my dream, and I know that with a lot of hard work that is very achievable.”
From that first parks-and-rec team, Wirfs continued to play football throughout high school and will continue into college.
Last year Wirfs finalized his decision and committed to becoming an Iowa. He is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 2 recruit in Iowa and the nation's No. 21 offensive tackle.
'I'm so excited to play for Iowa,” Wirfs said. 'I've liked the Hawks since I was little and it's pretty cool having a Division I team like that right down the road. I really can't wait to get down to Iowa City and start the next chapter of my journey.”
When the school found out about Wirfs' plan, everyone was ecstatic he was following his dreams into college.
'Tristan will learn from the best in the business,” Mustangs football coach Lance Pedersen said. 'This will not only give him an opportunity to have a great collegiate career but also prepare him for his career after Iowa football. The future is very bright for Tristan.”
The Army Bowl is an all-star game that invites the top 90 high school players in the nation to compete annually, East against West. The history of the alumni of the Army Bowl is quite extensive, including Odell Beckham Jr., Adrian Peterson, Christian McCaffrey and hundreds more NFL players. For the past 17 years, the game has featured elite high school players, but for the first time in Mount Vernon's history a player has been selected.
'Getting invited to the Army Bowl is pretty surreal,” Wirfs said. 'I remember when I just got nominated and was pretty excited about that. But to actually get selected to play just blew my mind. I'm so excited.”
The game is on Jan. 7 in San Antonio, Texas.
Chasing his dreams and tackling opponents, Wirfs is on his way to the big leagues.
'Tristan is a special athlete and special person,” Pedersen said. 'You don't get the opportunity to coach a player of his caliber every day. He loves his family, he loves his teammates, he loves the game. In return his teammates and coaches love him and want the best for him.
'He is a player and person we will talk about for a long time here at Mount Vernon.”