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Prestigious senior honor for Graves

Southeast Valley all-stater will play in the All-American Bowl

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Southeast Valley’s Aaron Graves (right) gets a hug from teammate Colton Brant after the team’s semifinal win in Cedar Falls.

DAYTON — Southeast Valley’s Aaron Graves was shocked at first, then flattered when he got the invitation.

Graves, a University of Iowa recruit, first received an email a year ago that he was selected to play in the 22nd edition of the All-American Bowl in January of 2022 in San Antonio.

“It’s an incredible honor,” Graves said. “Coming from a small town in Iowa, there wouldn’t be any thought of being able to play in such a prestigious game.

“When I caught wind of it (being selected), I was like, “Who me?’ This kid from a small 2A high school in Iowa. I was glad that I was able to achieve this. It’s great for our school and the community in general.”

Graves, who helped lead the Jaguars to the school’s first-ever state title earlier this month, will play on the defensive line in the game on January 8. The annual East vs. West matchup will take place in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tex.

“My family and I will head down on Jan. 3, and there will be a week of practice,” Graves said. “We’ll go through drills and meet all of the players.”

Last week, the Southeast Valley senior all-stater was on the 11th episode of the Road to the Dome digital series. Graves was presented with a virtual jersey.

The episode was released on the NBC Sports YouTube channel.

The Bowl will be nationally televised, live on NBC, and will feature many of the nation’s Top 100 high school football recruits.

The All-American Bowl has produced players like Andrew Luck, Reggie Bush, DeMarco Murray, Odell Beckham Jr., Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott.

Graves is the fourth future Hawkeye to play in the game. Tony Moeaki suited up in 2005, and former Hawkeyes and current NFL players A.J. Epenesa and Tristan Wirfs both participated in 2017.

Iowa State’s Allen Lazard — now a Green Bay Packer — played in 2014.

Graves, a four-star recruit, committed to Iowa as a freshman. He is currently the third-best recruit in Iowa, 14th on the DL charts in the country, and 100th overall nationally, according to 247 Sports Recruiting.

Graves is entering the basketball and wrestling season for the Jaguars. Graves, the top-ranked wrestler at 285 pounds in 2A, enjoyed a brief break after SV won the state championship. He was then quick to get back to the weight room.

“I took a week off after football and got back to lifting again,” Graves said. “Now I’m back for both basketball and wrestling.”

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