Owens to showcase skills in Blue-Grey All-American Bowl

FELTON – Lake Forest senior Xavier Owens will have the opportunity to hit the football field one more time as a high school student-athlete.

This week, the All-Conference linebacker will be traveling down south to suit up for the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl Saturday, Jan. 13 in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I feel blessed to be able to strap up the pads one more time for high school,” Owens said. “It’s a real blessing, especially on the national stage getting that exposure. Delaware kids, coming from a small state, we don’t always get that exposure. So, it feels good to get that.”

After performing well at a regional combine in New Jersey over the summer, Owens received an invitation to participate in the all-star game at EverBank Field – home to the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise.

Linebacker Xavier Owens has his sights set on an Indian River ball-carrier during Lake’s homecoming win Saturday, Oct. 7 (Special to The Chronicle/LaFayette Bell, Sr.).

“I went to a regional combine over the summer. It was a chance to test all your numbers – 40-time, broad jump, shuttles and everything,” Owens said. “I ended up running really good times, 4.6 40-yard dash, 4.3 shuttle, broad jump almost 10 feet – probably like 9.8. I also did really well on the 1-on-1’s and 7-on-7, and later that summer I received an invitation to the All-American Bowl game.”

Owens will be joining fellow high school football players from across the country, receiving instruction from former NFL players while getting exposure at a national level.

“It’s great, especially coming from a small state,” he said. “I travel to camps to play and compete with the best. To be the best you have to beat the best, so I try to step out of my comfort zone and play with kids all over the country. I feel like I can play with anybody.”

Owens will land in Jacksonville this Thursday, Jan. 11. The players will have practice at 2:30 p.m. both Thursday and Friday, then Friday night there will be a dinner and jersey presentation for the kids ahead of Saturday afternoon’s 1 p.m. kick-off.

“First, I hope to have fun and enjoy the moment, because I’m very blessed to receive this opportunity,” he said of his mind-set this week. “Second of all, I know I will need to just go out there and play hard and impress the coaches and staff there.”

The Blue-Grey Bowl game, established in 1989, was founded by Gus Bell and his son Erik Bell.

The Bells have put together an impressive list of names on its veteran coaching staff, stacked with former NCAA, NFL and CFL standout players/coaches.

Xavier Owens (36) during the Battle of the Bell showdown Friday, Nov. 10 (Special to The Chronicle/Gene Shaner).

Owens is looking forward to receiving instruction from guys with college and NFL experience.

“I’m always up for constructive criticism on my game, and obviously I’m going to take everything they have to say in and apply it to my game.”

Owens, a multi-sport athlete at Lake, didn’t step onto the football field until his junior year. The late start to his football career hasn’t kept him from developing his skills on both sides of the ball.

He believes his athleticism, competitiveness and his basketball background helped him adapt to the sport of football once he hit the field a couple of short years ago.

It also helps that he comes from a family of athletes.

“I didn’t play any middle school or pop warner football, I really came from a basketball background,” he said. “I’ve just always been around competition with my older brother, he was a football player and so was my dad. My mom was an athlete as well. Being an athlete, going into my junior year it was easy for me to pick it up.”

Owens will look to use this opportunity as one final shot at proving to college coaches that he can play with anyone who lines up against him.

“To be the best you have to beat the best,” he said. “So, I try to step out of my comfort zone. I feel like I can play with anybody.”

Once the Blue-Grey game is in his rearview mirror, Xavier says he will be ironing out a few details regarding his football future.

“I have had some interest from some colleges,” he said. “This exposure will help me out a little more. I will say, probably, sometime in March or April I’ll have everything figured out by then.”

Saturday afternoon’s Blue-Grey all-star showdown will be broadcasted on ESPN3.com.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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