November 22, 2006 - Ever since the day he was born, Kristopher O'Dowd has always been a big kid. So much so, that his hulking size kept him out of Pop Warner leagues out of the fear that he might hurt others his age.
In fact, O'Dowd didn't don a pair of pads until he was a high school freshman. Now, the Salpointe Catholic High School senior isn't just big, he's a 6-foot 4-inch, 300-pound gridiron force to be reckoned with.
On Nov. 1, the right guard and Foothills resident was named to the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl - an honor reserved for the nation's top 80 high school players and selected from a pool of 400 candidates. O'Dowd is the third Tucson-area high school football player to make the squad in the last four years joining Salpointe's John Kadous 2004 and Ironwood Ridge High School's Daniel Borg 2005.
With O'Dowd manning the line, Salpointe finished the regular season with a 9-1 (4-1 Class 5A Southern) record. Behind him, Salpointe quarterback Max Fritz was able to pass for 1,920 yards this season - tops in the 5A Southern by more than 1,220 yards.
"When he was born, the doctor said he was off the charts: His weight, his length, his bones, everything," said Kristopher's mother, Genie O'Dowd. "He was huge."
A baseball, basketball and soccer player growing up, O'Dowd was discovered by Salpointe coach Dennis Bene when O'Dowd was a freshman and moved him up to varsity that same year.
"My freshman year I decided that football is where I should be," said O'Dowd. "I got put up on varsity, got my butt kicked but I learned a lot from it, learned a lot of techniques, and it all paid off."
Because of his size, agility and athletic prowess, O'Dowd's phone is constantly ringing. On the other end of the line are college coaches from around the nation chomping at the bit to add his huge frame to their offensive lines.
O'Dowd has narrowed the choices to six premier collegiate programs: the University of Arizona, the University of Miami, Ohio State University, Southern California University, the University of Tennessee and UCLA.
"It's going to be a really tough decision because all these schools are highly respected," said a humble O'Dowd in the moments after the ceremony in which he received his All-American Bowl jersey (which fittingly was one size too small for his frame). "I'm going to feel bad when I have to call the coaches and tell them that I'm not going to be attending their school."
The UA may have a chance of landing O'Dowd - his grandfather, Jack O'Dowd, was a center for the Wildcats. But Arizona will have to compete for O'Dowd's services with programs such as USC and Ohio State - powerhouse football factories that regularly supply lineman to the NFL.
As an Army All-American, O'Dowd joins notable players such as the New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush, Tennessee Titans' Vince Young and more than 35 other NFL stars.
The game will be held Jan. 6 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Before then, his jersey will be hung in the Salpointe football hall of fame for future generations to see - although O'Dowd isn't one to brag.
"I just want to be someone who when they look back says that guy was a good guy, someone you could trust, someone you can respect, someone who could get it done," he said.
"It's funny, we have a small school but half the people don't know my accomplishments," said the lineman. "It just kind of lets everyone know that the hard work and everything I've done has paid off."