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Arthur Braden could have gone to North Dakota or Northern Iowa next season to play football as a preferred walk-on.

The Pleasant Valley senior all-stater instead chose a place where he could get free tuition and an opportunity to see the field early in his career.

Headed to NAIA power Grand View University in Des Moines, Braden will get a chance to see how he measures up against some of the state's best seniors on July 21 in the 46th annual Iowa Shrine All-Star Classic at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

"This will be like college tempo, playing with the best players in Iowa," Braden said during the event's media day Monday at the Kaaba Shrine. "This will prepare me for the guys I will play with in college."

Braden is one of five locals representing the South Squad. Davenport Assumption's Jayce Levy, Bettendorf's Ben Wilson, North Scott's Zach Petersen and Wapello's Laith Smith also are on the team.

Midland all-stater Austin Smith is among those on the North Squad.

After rushing for more than 3,000 yards at PV, Braden believes he can step in immediately and help the Vikings.

"I knew I could play at the (Division I level), but I rather stand out at a place where I feel at home, have good coaching and can win games," Braden said. "A big factor in my decision was a chance to go in and play right away."

Levy starred at quarterback for the Knights, but the plan is for him to play receiver and be a return specialist at Iowa Western Community College.

"They've got a winning culture there," Levy said. "All they do is win and the coaches treated me real well."

Levy is excited to participate in the Shrine Game, particularly against players he has competed with the past several years.

"One last time with my friends, so it'll be nice," Levy said.

Wilson will have some familiarity around him for the week as Bettendorf's Aaron Wiley is one of the assistant coaches for the South Squad.

After hauling in 41 passes for 636 yards last fall, Wilson will continue his career at Wisconsin-Platteville.

"This means a lot, a huge honor to be able to play another football game, and it is for a great cause to help children in the hospitals," Wilson said.

Petersen signed with Iowa State in December. This will give him an opportunity to get acclimated to dorm life before joining the Cyclones.

Petersen said it will be a nice respite from his summer workouts.

"This will be more fun than anything," Petersen remarked. "To be up there and hang out with some guys, and then to play football at the same time, it will be even better."

Last year's game raised $70,000 for the Shriner's Hospital and has generated more than $2.6 million since its inception.

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.