December 14, 2008

Army hosts big official visit weekend

In typical official visit weekend fashion, prospects arrive anywhere from late Friday morning to Friday afternoon. First, they'll usually meet with the coaches and get a brief tour of the campus. Dinner is served that evening and afterward the recruits will usually go out with their player hosts (current Black Knights).

Although some players may come on the visit alone, most of the time parents make the trip.

For the nine recruits making their way this past weekend to West Point to Army, this wasn't your typical official visit. They were confronted with the news that Stan Brock was no longer the Head Coach for the Army Black Knights. Whereby some had heard the news when they arrived on campus and others found about the coaching situation prior to their arrival via various sources (e.g. coaches, parents, sports TV venue, etc.).

Welcome to College Football 101

However, no matter where, when or how the visitors received the news, the prevailing initial response was, "I was very surprised," as noted by wide receiver and Army commit, E-Jay Tucker. But as the weekend unfolded, the feeling amongst the majority of the prospects was this is how college football conducts itself from time to time … and it's not always the program that is not winning enough, but college programs lose coaches who are on the winning side of the equation. Just look at the landscape of names that are or have been on the interview trail recently. You have Brian Kelly, Cincinnati; Turner Gill, Buffalo; Mike Leach, Texas Tech, just to name a few.

VISITORS

Making the short trip from New Jersey was wide receiver E-Jay Tucker who is out of Marlboro (NJ) Marlboro High School. Tucker was joined on his visit by his parents and took time to meet with the coaches, as well as administration to confirm his initial verbal commitment to play football at Army.

For Tucker, it was a weekend of up and down emotions, but in the end he remains a Black Knight. "I got pulled out of my class by my head coach," shares Tucker, when describing how he found out about Brock's dismissal. "My parents knew before I did because they saw it on TV. "

What was the response from some of the other recruits that were there this weekend? "Honestly, most didn't seem overly shocked, maybe they knew before they arrived," notes Tucker. "Before we ate dinner (Friday), the AD talked about the fact that the program is going in a different direction. All the guys I spoke to, like Caleb Knight, Trevor Rothstein and Bross … they all seem to be leaning towards Army, but said they wanted to at least take their other visits. Caleb said he wanted to check out Air Force before he decides."

Tucker did point out that there was one prospect who joined him as a member of the 2009 Recruiting class and that was linebacker/safety Demarkus Chambliss out to South Houston (TX) South Houston High School.

Chambliss, who is a hard hitting defender, gave his verbal to the coaching staff over the weekend and is excited about his decision, even in the midst of the coaching transition. "Coach Waugh (Adam) told me when I arrived on Friday about what was happening, and my feeling is that whatever is best for the team," shares Texas native.

Chambliss, who made the trip by himself, was hosted this weekend by Rod Murray, who according to safety/linebacker, felt that Murray did a really good job in explaining everything about what it takes to make it at West Point.

Chambliss will be USMAPS bound initially, and his hard hitting style and range will be a welcome addition to the Black Knights' program.

Making his way from Pennsylvania was fullback/linebacker Pete Bross out of Parkland Senior High School.

Bross who is being projected as a linebacker for Army was one of the prospects to find out about Brock upon his arrival to the campus. However, once the initial impact of news had settled in, Bross like Tucker decided that it had to the mindset of "that is then and this is now". "When my parents and I arrived, Coach Misciagna notified us about Coach Brock," shares the 6-foot-1, 220 pound prospect. "I was surprised, but it's not going to change my interest level. I like what they do and it's not going to change my thoughts at all."

So where does Bross stand with Army? "Right now Army is number one and I feel it's a good fit, but I will take a couple more visit, then sit down with my parents so I can make a solid decision," said Bross.

For Bross, who was hosted by Fritz Bentler, he had a chance to connect with other recruits, such as Austin Noonan and the hosts while on his visit. And when asked how it felt sleeping in the barracks, Bross was quick to mention that Bentler let him have the bed, while the Black Knights' defensive tackle slept on the cot. When told that Noonan, who was hosted by the other half of the Bentler brother tandem (Ted), had the true experience of the cot, Bross just laughed.

Bross also noticed the positive outlook of some of the current Black Knights who themselves had to absorb the idea that they would be playing for a new head coach come 2009. "The players were concern that Brock was dismissed, but their goal is to succeed and win - they were looking forward," shares Bross after having spent time with some of players on the squad.

Athletic quarterback Caleb Knights came on his visit solo, but didn't miss a beat throughout the weekend. Knights, who from Chillicothe (OH) Chillicothe High School who is being recruited by Tucker Waugh, but spent time this weekend with offensive coordinator, Tim Walsh and hosted by Kingsley Ehie. Like Bross, the Ohio prospect first heard of Brock release upon his arrival at the Thayer Hotel. "When I arrived, Coach Waugh told me, and my first reaction was disappointment," says Knights, whose last name is quite fitting to say the least and took everything in stride. "But that stuff can happen when you are looking at colleges."

Knights shared that he had a great experience on his visit and feels that he could come in and get playing time immediately. He also indicated that it's down to Army and Air Force.

Another hot prospect to visit was 6-foot-4, 280 defensive tackle, Austin Noonan. It is clear that Army needs some size in the middle and Noonan has that, but also has room to build on.

So what were the Little Rock (AR) Pulaski Academy High School prospects thoughts on his visit once he left Army? "Obviously there are some things that are up in the air with what's going on with Brock's firing," states a candid Noonan. "The coaches were very professional about everything and it's a great school no matter who is coaching"

Noonan, who's recruiting is being handled by cornerback Coach, Wally Ake and was joined by his father on the visit, concluded with this statement. "I had a lot of fun, learned a lot about the school, the campus is beautiful and after seeing everything, my interest level is high, but I will talk to my parents and wait and see who the new coach will be," points out defensive tackle prospect.

Closing out the impressive list of visitors offensive lineman Trevor Rothstein; defensive end recruit Evan Kaufman; running back John Howell and wide receiver Brian Austin.

Stay tuned to GoBlackKnights.com as we continue to focus on the Army recruiting class of 2009.



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