CLINTON — With preseason college football practices weeks away, Jacob Judd is more than happy to get one last tuneup before starting his freshman year at Western Illinois University.
“Getting the pads on now is a huge help,” said Judd, a two-way All-Mississippi Athletic Conference lineman for Clinton High last season.
It’s an added bonus when doing so helps a cause.
For the past week, Judd has had a preview of college life while staying at the University of Northern Iowa dorms. On Saturday, he will take the field for Iowa’s South Squad during the 41st annual Shrine Bowl — the state’s equivalent of an all-start game for seniors.
While centered around the gridiron, the Shrine Bowl also serves as a major charitable event for the local Shriners Hospital for Children. Coordinators report that money raised from the game now totals more than $2.25 million, all of which goes toward supporting kids with various illnesses.
Judd said he’d had a taste of the game’s influence off the field. In between practices with other standouts from around Iowa, players have visited the children the Shrine Bowl supports with a number of bonding experiences.
“We spend time with these kids, like we’re older buddies,” Judd said. “It’s a different experience. It feels rewarding being able to see and spend time with these kids who look up to you.”
With a proud family backing him, the Judds have also entrenched themselves in the Shriners’ cause. Jacob’s mom, Danielle, while vocalizing pride in her son’s football achievements, is also taking part in fundraising. She’s made herself available to local fans who want to purchase tickets and support the cause.
Fans who attend will get the added treat of seeing one of their local players one last time.