He has played in front of big crowds before, but his newest honor might lead to his biggest performance yet.

Desert Vista High School senior Jeff McCleve was selected as one of just 101 marching bands students, with 24 color guards, nationwide to receive the honor of being named to the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.

As a result, he will perform with his fellow recipients during halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, an all-star game of sorts for high school football players. At last year's event, 38,000 people packed the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

McCleve submitted three videos - one of a marching performance, one of a performance at a National Association for Music Education, and one of his choice.

"I'd like to thank my parents for supporting me throughout music, and all that I strive to do," McCleve said at a ceremony on Tuesday. "I'd also like to thank the National Association for Music Education and the U.S. Army for recognizing not just the athletes, but the musicians and everyone else who strives to be as great as they can possibly be."

McCleve has seen his fair share of large events. Last summer he traveled with the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, a world-renowned organization that competes all across the United States, including in stadiums like the Georgia Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

"It is cool to see how many people come out and watch," McCleve said in July. "It can be exhausting mentally and physically, but it is definitely worth it."

Band director Josh Thye was also honored by the U.S. Army, and gave his own praise for the senior.

"My sincere congratulations to Jeff and his family for this honor," Thye said. "It says a lot about his personal determination. The band as a whole really supports honors like this."

Tune in to see McCleve and the 2012 U.S. All-American Bowl, which will take place in San Antonio at 11 a.m. on Jan. 7 and will be aired on NBC.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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