WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw likely won’t forget the moment he was offered a chance to play football at West Point.
It happened during Bradshaw’s junior year in high school on Chicago’s South Side when Army assistant coach Tucker Waugh stopped by.
“My head coach took me out of the classroom and introduced me to coach Waugh,” Bradshaw recalled. “I said, ‘Thank you, sir (for the offer).’ Then I kind of whispered to my coach, ‘What’s West Point?’ That was the first time I heard of it.”
In this day and age, that’s the norm.
Army coach Jeff Monken said most of his players had never heard of West Point when he first recruited them.
“We have a few on our team where this is where they always wanted to go, but very few. I would say it’s likely the same at (Navy),” he said.
Welcome to the world of recruiting for football at a service academy, where coaches are tasked with asking prospective players for a commitment like no other — ceding the freedom that teenagers relish, playing for four years at an unfamiliar school then serving a stint in the armed forces, pretty much relinquishing any dreams of playing professionally.
“This is a great place if you can break through the military piece because that’s where they get hung up,” said Monken, who also was an assistant at Navy under Paul Johnson. “I’m not a military guy. I don’t know if the military’s for me, and that’s always going to be a challenge.
“Ultimately, it’s what keeps us from being able to sign a lot of the guys that we go after, and that’s the same at Navy as well.”
Monken, in his fourth season at Army, thinks the three service academies face the most difficult recruiting challenges in America, in part because they recruit nationally (Army has players from 29 states on its 2017 roster, Navy has players from 32 states and Air Force 21).
Global politics certainly add a dimension not seen at other schools.
“Moms and dads are nervous about their sons coming to the Army and going into ground combat, and I understand that and respect that,” said West Point…