Army All-American Bowl Notebook: Game Carries Special Meaning for Evan Lisle

By Kyle Rowland on January 6, 2013 at 6:00a

When Centerville offensive lineman Evan Lisle received a highly coveted invite to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, accepting it was a no-brainer. Not only is the Army bowl a who’s who of high school football seniors, the Army itself holds a spot near and dear to the Lisle family.

The Cadet Honor Code is just 12 words long. But not many kids grow up being able to recite it. Few also don’t have a father that attended West Point, such as Lisle’s dad, Steve. His brother, Nick, is also a member of the Army and, ironically, left to attend boot camp the day Lisle arrived in San Antonio.

“It was a huge honor not just for me but also my family in accepting this,” he said, on Saturday, following the East team’s 15-8 triumph.

Part of the week’s festivities included interaction with Army personnel. For Lisle, it reinforced that line of thinking that there are bigger things to life than football.

“It’s really cool (being around the soldiers),” he said. “As they were saying here, football players are not heroes – that’s the American soldier. I believe that. It’s just a huge honor that we can play for something as big as the American soldiers.

“It just helps you take a step back and get a different perspective on last.”

Both teams received speeches from a four-star general – the assistant secretary of defense. The message for the four- and five-star recruits?

“Go out and enjoy what the American soldier protects,” Lisle said. “They’re a team just like us, and we’re going out there and laying everything down just like they are.”

In the game, Lisle helped protect his running backs. The East team ran for 132 yards on 34 carries thanks to large holes opened up by Lisle and the rest of the offensive line. Lisle had a couple pulling blocks that resulted in big gains.

“I was happy,” he said. “I thought I played really well. I came out and gave it all my all and played a good game.”

Centerville is no stranger to talent. It has sent Kirk Herbstreit, Mike Nugent, Nick Mangold and AJ Hawk to Columbus. But the level of competition Lisle faced on Saturday differed greatly from a traditional Centerville practice or game.

This was the best of the best. Every defensive lineman he faced is going to a Division I program. It was a good challenge for Lisle, who is sometimes too vertical trying to block or not as engaged in the physical nature of the game. He answered the call, showing promise in practice and then performing nicely in the game.

“It’s a lot different,” Lisle said. “It’s a whole different atmosphere. Going against those players every play, it makes you better. It’s really challenging and really fun.”

Carries or not, Elliott was all smiles all the time in Texas. 


All-star games aren’t always about winning and losing. They also aren’t always about playing. Oftentimes, they’re simply about being there.

That’s the approach Missouri high school phenom Ezekiel Elliott took. Bound for Ohio State, the running back only touched the ball once, and it came on a pass out of the backfield. He made it worthwhile, however, continuing for 19 yards.

His versatility – playing both running back and wide receiver – is something Urban Meyer is looking for. That could lead to Elliott finding a role as a niche player during his freshman season and maybe beyond. He even tried his hand at defensive back during the West team’s practices.

“I’m trying to get on the field as quickly as possible,” said Elliott, a three-sport athlete. “Whether it's special teams, defense or offense, I’ll do it. I’m willing to do whatever.”

The offensive skill positions are his calling, and that in turn is what attracted him to Ohio State and Ohio State to him. The Buckeyes run a system that makes Elliott smile and get a twinkle in his eye, while Meyer evaluates Elliott as a player that can thrive in said system.

“I think I’m a really good fit for the spread offense,” Elliott said. “I think I can move around in the slot.”

As a junior, Elliott ran for over 1,800 yards and had another 400 yards receiving. In all, he finished with 40 total touchdowns. Elliott added 25.6 yards per punt return, too. His rushing total dipped to almost 1,400 yards as a senior, but he averaged 16.2 yards per carry and 159 yards per game. 

And you wonder why he’s highly ranked by recruiting services?

“I’m really comfortable with the coaching staff (at Ohio State),” Elliott said. “I’ve become really close with Coach Stan Drayton. He has become like family.”

In Texas, soldiers and his future football brethren became family.

“It was an eye-opener and life changing.,” Elliot said of his experience in Santonio. “To come out here really makes you respect what the Army does for this nation. It was a great opportunity to come out here and represent the country, yourself and your school. I also got to bond with some of my future teammates and opponents.”

Eli Apple has long been a Buckeye. 

Apple of Meyer's Eye

When a defense allows just 90 total yards and 71 through the air, if you’re a part of that secondary, chances are you’re happy about the end result. That would be a correct assessment of defensive back Eli Apple after his East team won, 15-8, over the West on Saturday.

A defensive back, Apple was good in every facet of defense – man coverage, zone and stopping the run. His only hiccup came via a missed tackle. But that wasn’t going to stand in the way of him reveling in victory.

“I’m just glad we won,” Apple said. “I think I did solid. It was definitely a huge difference from my high school games. The biggest difference for me was the linemen coming after me. I’ve never seen linemen so fast in my life. It was great. The receivers were fast like I expected them to be.”

But apparently not fast enough to get separation from Apple. All week in practice, he was locking up receivers, which threw them off their routes, affected timing and left them frustrated. The West got a taste of that Saturday.

“I noticed when I get my hands on receivers, I’m pretty strong and they have trouble breaking away,” Apple said. “I need to work on moving my feet at the line when I’m pressing, flipping my hips and wrapping up when I tackle.”

Apple is still raw, unpolished and young – quite literally, considering his 17 years of age. On Sunday, he’ll fly from San Antonio to Columbus, not his home state of New Jersey. That’s because Apple will be enrolling in classes for the winter semester, making him eligibility for spring practice.

That also means the scrawny Apple will be an attendee at strength coach Mickey Marotti’s winter workouts.

“I know it’s going to be tough,” Apple said. “I’ve seen some of the workouts. I know it’s going to be the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life from talking to guys on the team.”

Townsend brings his form to Columbus, where he'll start. 

Johnny Come Lately

The day started out great for punter Johnny Townsend. He wasn’t hoping for a three-and-out on the East’s first possession, but when it arrived and the ball was on their own 45, he knew the task was, at minimum, placing the ball inside the 20.

He did way better, booming a kick 50 yards before it was downed at the five-yard line.

“I’ve been working very hard on pooch punting, pinning it, directional in the corners and stuff like that,” Townsend said. “So I was happy.”

But his final two punts of the two were decidedly underwhelming. Both times, however, he dealt with porous blocking.

In fact, the two punts traveled 53 total yards. Both times pressure contributed to the final result. One was tipped and the other was off target due to the onslaught.

“The blitzes were coming much quicker and harder (than usual high school games).” Townsend said. “There’s a lot more pressure on getting the ball off quick and staying focused.

“I just popped my head up. More time put on the special teams this week would have helped, but it was kind of propped off to the side. It wasn’t really paid much attention to, and I think kicking is one of the biggest factors in the game.”

Most coaches would agree, especially Meyer, who is the Buckeyes’ de facto special teams coach. Everyone is familiar with Jim Tressel’s affinity for punters. But Meyer is every bit as keen when it comes to punters and kickers.

In practice, he’ll spend entire drills with kickers. When Townsend attended Friday Night Lights in July and Meyer spent as much time with him as future quarterbacks, he knew Columbus might just be the spot for him. With a month until signing day, it doesn’t look like Townsend, a Florida native, will get cold feet and sign elsewhere.


Comments Show All Comments

Codeezy's picture

So stoked on the future of the program. Lisle looked very good, and it seemed like they never threw apples way. There's a reason for that.

gumtape's picture

Thanks kyle. This is good stuff. We haven't heard much about lisle lately because linemen aren't exciting. We found out this year that a good line is the difference between 12-0 and 6-6.

High and tight boo boo

3technique's picture

I cannot wait to watch these kids develop! Linebacker U!

osubuck57's picture

This class will definately be one to watch!! Seems like they are a very close class,no matter the position!!


bassplayer7770's picture

What a bunch of great kids we have committed. Excited to see how quickly they will develop and get on the field.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Really enjoyed learning more about Lisle. What a great addition to tOSU. He looked really good run blocking at RT, but struggled at times in pass blocking. That's to be expected in these all star games, as the DL has speed and strength that most high schoolers have not faced. Lisle will be a solid contributor for many years. 

Alex's picture

Centerville's offense doesn't really throw much and I think they even use a gimmicky offense (ie triple option) so the OL there are usually behind on pass pro. This kid will be good once Warinner has a year with him

Buckman's picture

I jus looked on their conference website and saw that Centerville only has 78 passing attempts on the year.

I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.


buckeyedude's picture

I have a lot of family that were in the military, and I really appreciate Lisle's words. He understands the tremendous sacrifices made by the military and their families. I know I'm going to like this kid.
Can someone explain the story behind the Eli Woodward>Apple change? I must have been working when that story broke. Maybe it's personal and he doesn't want anyone to know. That's fine. Was just curious.



urbanmdg's picture

From what I read, he changed his last name to Apple in honor of his stepfather who basically raised him and who has been there for him. It was a legal change of name. It was in the paper or online..he was pretty up front about it.

Go Buckeyes

buckeyedude's picture

OK. Copy that. Thanks. I just thought it was very unusual for a kid his age to change his name at this point in his life. Maybe it's not unusual. /:|



oregonianbuckeye's picture

Well said, and I agree. Eli legally changed his last name to honor and recognize the man who raised him (step father I believe). There was a story on 11W somewhere, but I couldn't find the link. Eli is a really special young man.

Royball's picture

He was raised by his stepfather since he was 2, who has the surname Apple.  He doesn't like to talk about his biological father, but he basically changed his last name to honor his stepfather.

4-6 seconds of relentless effort

Royball's picture

Zeke's numbers dropped his senior year?  From what I understood, he rushed for over 2000 yards this past season, and had 30 some TD's, hence the huge bump in the recruiting rankings.  Regardless, glad he's on his way here.

4-6 seconds of relentless effort

captain obvious's picture

im just extremely excited about the punter
Urban should really consider punting on 3rd down to get him on the field
even sometimes on 2nd and long
Maybe put in  a donkey package where we give Townsend the option to punt pass or run
so many options
he will be the key to OSU success in 2013

I'm a friend of thunder is it any wonder lightning strikes me

buckeyedude's picture

ROFL! It's good someone's giving the scholarship punter some love. God knows they need it. LOL.



buckeye76BHop's picture

They could call it the Meatchicken Donkey Punch Punt Package....yeah...that sounds good right?
In all seriousness...Townsend will be back up to either Basil or Frank Epitropoulos (love that last name btw) at first.  I could see him cracking the starting line up if those other two struggle in the slightest.  Urban won't mess with that...he was irate on the sidelines a couple of times last year when punts were blocked (either bc of freshmen missing key blocks or Buchanan taking too much time to kick the ball).  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

buckeyedude's picture

If we really wanted to mess with Meatchicken, we could line up two punters in the backfield at the same friggin time. Imagine the possibilities with two extremely talented punters on the field at the same time!



captain obvious's picture

Epitropolis lines up in the slot and he can punt too
So we'd have Basil and Townsend in the backfield
Frank E motions into the backfield set up for a hold pulls the Charlie Brown gimick on Basil runs the option  to Townsend no pitches to Townsend who Throws back to Frank E who pooch punts to the 1 yd line
d-coordinators scramble everywhere to get tape and figure it our

I'm a friend of thunder is it any wonder lightning strikes me

Dougger's picture

townsend sweep to epitropolous for the running sideways punt?

I like football

Klingenator's picture

I'd like to see tOSU clean the dust off of an old playbook and bring back the drop kick!  Townsend was a QB in high school I believe, and it would take a lot of pressure off of Drew!

buckeyedude's picture

When was the last time a "drop kick" was used?



Klingenator's picture

I couldn't find any info about it in college, but the last successful converted drop kick in the NFL was by Doug Flutie in 2006 while he was with the Patriots.  Prior to that one hadn't been converted since 1941.  Someone attempted one in a Pro Bowl not too long ago (I think it was Drew Brees) but who watches those anyway?