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Salt Lake City Cottonwood quarterback Cooper Bateman didn't know what to expect when the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game came into town on Friday to present him with his official game jersey.
Bateman looked at pictures from a similar ceremony the day before when Michigan quarterback commitment Shane Morris was presented his jersey. But the magnitude of the event didn't dawn on him until he walked into his high school and saw the Under Armour backdrop, the helmets and the microphone.
"Whoah," he thought. "This is a big deal."
If it were up to Bateman, he could've done without all of the hoopla. The ESPN 150 quarterback and University of Alabama commitment has never been one for the spotlight.
"That's just me," he said. "I really don't like to be in the spotlight. Shine it on somebody else, and I'll hide back in the shadows. That's not saying I'm not competitive. I'm a lively kid, but I just don't like the spotlight like that. I'm just a regular kid, and I'd rather have it be that way."
That probably explained the nerves Bateman was feeling the night before the event. But after accepting the jersey and getting on the mic to thank his parents and teammates, he realized this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime.
"It was a great experience and something that I'll always remember," Bateman said. "What an honor it is. All of the names they've had come through, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, that's huge. Now that my name is up there with them. Again, what an honor that is."
The Crimson Tide have been well represented every year at the Under Armour game since its inception in 2008. Bateman mentioned Jones and Richardson, but current stars Dee Milliner, Cyrus Kouandjio and Landon Collins have also played in the game.
|Alabama commit and ESPN 150 QB Cooper Bateman (No. 12) received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey on Friday.|
Bateman understands what comes with the territory when you're committed to Alabama. He's dealt with it at national events all summer.
"As an Alabama commitment, I've had that feeling now going into The Opening and The Elite 11," he said. "People know that I am committed to Alabama. I'm representing myself, the state of Utah, my school, and I'm representing Alabama, which might be the biggest.
"There's a lot of pressure, but pressure situations are where it shows who's best."
Friday's jersey presentation couldn't have come at a better time as Bateman prepared for another pressure situation in the national spotlight -- an ESPNU-televised game against Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline and fellow ESPN 150 quarterback Max Browne on Friday night.
In this instance, Bateman was not hiding in the shadows. He was ready to come out and compete against his friend and rival signal-caller.
"I cannot wait," he said. "It's been on the schedule for a long time now. I've been looking at it. I've played two games already. Max has played one. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking a little ahead to this one.
"From Day 1 in the recruitment process, whenever I saw my name, Max's name was right next to it. The West Coast quarterbacks, No. 1 and No. 2, whatever you want to say. It was always me and Max. At The Opening, we played in the finals. At the Elite 11, we competed all week. Now, it actually means something. We're excited."
It's already been quite the day for Bateman with the Under Armour jersey presentation, but he'd love nothing more than to cap it off with a victory on Friday night.