SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- A small, intimate crowd made up mostly of teammates and family members trickled into the Santa Monica (Calif.) High School gymnasium on Monday night for a ceremony to honor ESPN 150 receiver Sebastian LaRue.
The venue had been changed five times since Friday, so missing was the large gathering of students and faculty that is typical for assemblies of this magnitude.
Yet, that mattered little -- those in attendance roared loudly when LaRue was presented with his jersey as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game, which will be played Jan. 4 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"It's a big honor," LaRue said. "It's something you think about growing up. You remember watching all the other guys that played in games like this, guys that have gone on to do great things in college and the NFL."
LaRue, who has committed to nearby USC, will be one of many elite high school football players to play in the game. When he does, he'll be able to check off a top priority from his to-do list.
"I set out to do this," LaRue said. "Last year as a junior I said I wanted to experience these things. I wanted to feel like I accomplished everything that I could at this level."
LaRue, who plays on both sides of the ball and excels on specials teams for Santa Monica, was overcome with emotion when he was first notified of his selection to the Under Armour All-America Game. All the grueling hours of training and the early-morning practices had paid off.
The four-star receiver thanked his parents, teammates, coaches and friends for their support.
"It took a minute for it to set in, honestly," he said. "It was a surreal feeling. I felt like somebody was playing a prank on me. It's an amazing feeling to be recognized. I immediately called my coaches and thanked them for everything."
Now the accomplishment is all too real. The electric playmaker couldn't stop smiling as he posed for countless photos.
LaRue said he is most excited about the opportunity to test himself against other great athletes. He hopes the experience will provide him an early look at what college has to offer.
"We'll be preparing with a great coaching staff, just like in college," LaRue said. "It's a mixture of guys that are great in high school. Hopefully it's a stepping stone for bigger and better things."