NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- It's somewhat amazing to fathom that at the beginning of the year, few knew who ESPN 150 offensive lineman Joas Aguilar was.
Here was a 6-foot-5, 286-pound Texas A&M commit who lines up at tackle for North Richland Hills (Texas) Birdville High School but was projected to play offensive guard on the college level.
Aguilar is that good. Yet, he was the personification of an old philosophical question.
If a tree falls in the forest, and there is nobody around, does it make a sound?
Aguilar was that proverbial tree in some ways, but his production on the field was more than enough to win over the Under Armour All-America Game selection crew. And on Friday morning, the nation's No. 4 guard in the ESPN 150 was awarded his 2013 Under Armour All-America Game jersey as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
"It feels really good. Usually the best players in the nation take part in this game," said Aguilar, who is No. 106 overall prospect the ESPN 150. "To be considered one of them is an honor. I know my parents will be proud. They've really helped me out with everything."
Credit Texas A&M for getting a head start in Aguilar's recruiting process before everyone else.
Prior to mid-February, Aguilar didn't have an offer and only received small looks. The Aggies offered roughly two days after seeing Aguilar's highlight tape. He committed on Feb. 18.
"I don't know why a lot of people weren't seeing him. If they got out and saw him, they would have liked him," Birdville coach Jim Skinner said. "He's a 6-5, near-300-pound kid with really good feet. Maybe it was because we lost in the first round of playoffs [last year] that he didn't get exposure. I don't know.
"All I know is the only one who really came and saw him was A&M. After that, everyone else came by, but he was already committed by then."
Skinner defined Aguilar as a player with a "fire in his stomach," someone who wanted to silence the critics who felt his ESPN 150 recognition was premature. Skinner said he rarely blows assignments, no matter where he's playing on the line.
Aguilar's strong enough to hold off defensive ends and outside linebackers. As a guard, he's quick and athletic enough to serve as an interior blocker and pass protector. More importantly, he's always looking to learn more about the positions.
"With technique in general, every kid can improve," Skinner said. "At the same time, this kid's going to get better with maturity and strength. The older he gets, the more he's going to recognize stuff quicker. Once he continues to improve, there's no limit to how good he will be."
To add, it didn't hurt for Aguilar to read about other linemen he felt he was comparable to. He admitted that his recruiting process took a back seat to his focus on becoming a better player his sophomore and junior seasons, but seeing linemen around him gain offers became frustrating quickly.
"I'd see people who are already committed, and I'd feel like I was on the same level as they were," Aguilar said. "I thought I should be up there, too, but then, it finally came. I was stressing about that. A lot of weight was off my shoulders when A&M came."
A shoulder injury slowed Aguilar last season, which could serve as another reason why his recruiting began at a snail's pace. Since the A&M offer, he's picked up offers from TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor, and he's received interest from several other schools.
Now he can add the Under Armour game to his resume. It'll serve as the perfect opportunity to show he belongs with the elite athletes.
Simply put, that's all he originally wanted -- the opportunity to show he belonged.
"At first, I just wanted to play football," he said. "Now, I want to show how far I've come."