All-Stars appearance caps Bishop football career


photo compliments of Karen Bishop
Justin Bishop on the sideline during the all-star game.

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com
One of Johnson County's very own, Justin Bishop, a former Longhorn talent, competed in a National All-Stars football game this past summer.
Bishop, a three-year starter for the Longhorns and a 2003 graduate, was requested to contribute his skills on the field during an All-Stars game at the Tennessee Tech stadium in Cookeville.
"I just received a letter asking me to come and play," Bishop said.
After playing varsity football his freshman year, and starting his other three high school years, the former Longhorn defensive end and center felt honored to be given a chance to play at such a level.
The decision was certainly not unfounded. During his years at Johnson County, Bishop was an all-conference player his junior and senior years, and received recognition as defensive player of the year. After tacking on an all-state title his senior year, Bishop concocted a mixture of expertise and determination that was sure to capture national attention.
As defensive end during the prestigious game, Bishop shined, collecting 11 tackles and making an important sack. He also succeeded in blocking a pass. Bishop said the game's intensity was different from what he was used to playing.
"It was more intense, a lot more physical, and a lot harder," he recalled.
Having donned football pads and cleats since fourth grade, however, Bishop certainly wasn't unprepared.
He drove to Cookeville on Thursday, June 19, where he and his new teammates were given a walk-through, during which they were informed of plays and stunts they would be performing.
"They just made sure we knew exactly what we were doing," Bishop said.
On the second day of the three-day trip, the men were put through three grueling practices.
"That was hot," Bishop said. "It was 90, 95 degrees down there."
The players were given another walk-through the morning of the game, on June 21, and then given the field to do what they came to do. Bishop's team shut down their opponent, 17-6.
Despite being tossed into a strange situation where he didn't know anyone, and the short time he spent with his all-star teammates, Bishop extended his Northeastern Tennessee kindness and formed bonds that would carry on past that Saturday's game.
"It felt a little weird, but after I got to talking to a few of the guys, it felt better. It felt like I was playing here at home," he said.
Bishop still keeps in touch with one teammate he played with. "His name is Chief," said Bishop. "He lives down in Alabama. I've talked to him four or five times."
The mesh of players that were invited to mingle their skills ranged from Ohio to Maine, and down to Florida.
Bishop first chose to play football in fourth grade, and continued until he graduated high school. He says he is finished now, however.
"I feel like I've played enough, and put in my time at playing," he said.
When he was still in elementary school, Bishop started for the middle school team.
"My older brother played, and I always wanted to be like him," Bishop said. "Then I got interested and kept playing."
Having always been built for football, Bishop played middle school football in sixth grade because he was over the weight limit for pee-wee.
Now, almost four months after being invited to play on the National All-Star team, Bishop still can't believe he was given that opportunity.
"It was great," he said. "It just floored me that I even got to play there -- that they even chose me to come."