Troy Smith knew that Army had a football team. But since the Black Knights aren’t talked about much nationally, that’s about all he knew about the program.
But things changed over the summer.
“I know for a fact that Army has a program and they’re not only trying to better themselves, but they’re always working and they’ve changed so much,” Smith said.
Smith gave the Army coaching staff his verbal commitment in May and looks to be a part of Black Knight head coach Jeff Monken’s second recruiting class.
Smith enters his senior year at Heights with a commitment in hand and ready for one final successful year at the school.
Monken was hired in December and comes to West Point after a successful stint at Georgia Southern in which he went 38-16
and helped the program transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Championship Subdivision. The highlight of his tenure at Georgia Southern was going to the swamp and beating Florida 26-20.
Smith was recruited by Black Knights assistant coach Todd Spencer who met with the quarterback personally. Though Spencer is the team’s offensive line coach, his recruiting pitch was on the money.
“I was just shell-shocked by everything that came out of his mouth and everything was impressive with what he was saying about the organization and about everything that had to do with Army football,” Smith said. “What they’re coming to, how they’re turning around, it wasn’t anything that was planned, and it was just straight off the bat.”
The Black Knights went 3-9 in 2013 and fans hope that Monken will turn things around. One of the measuring sticks will be if he can end a 12-game losing streak to the rival Navy Midshipmen.
Smith showed his prowess as a quarterback last season. He completed 101-of-196 passes for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns. He rushed for 520 yards and 11 scores on 103 carries. Smith was not only a quarterback in 2013, but he showed off his overall athleticism as a punter. He made the All-District 8-5A second team after averaging 33.34 yards per punt with a long of 57 yards.
The recruiting site Rivals.com has Smith listed as a two-star recruit and he is the fourth player from the Class of 2015 to commit to the program.
And with his senior season coming up, this is an exciting time for Smith.
“I’m soaking everything in and I just can’t wait for everything to be finalized, and of course, for this season coming up,” Smith said. “That’s a big milestone for me to play this senior season at Heights and execute with my teammates.”
Smith could officially become a Black Knight in February during the annual National Signing Day when recruits from all over the nation sign their National Letters of Intent.
But signing to play at Army, or any service academy, is not like signing for any other NCAA Division I school. After a player is done with his or her four years of collegiate eligibility, a five-year service commitment is necessary unless an athlete signs a professional contract.
Smith is ready for that responsibility.
“The main thing for me, I know the actual outcome of what can happen from me going to West Point and it’s just something so much better than if I want to any other school,” Smith said. “I just want to be successful. At the end of the day, I just want to prove myself and be successful.”
Though getting through four years at West Point comes with a big work load, Heights head football coach Jerry Edwards knows that Smith is both physically and mentally able to handle playing for the Black Knights and representing the Army.
“The five-year commitment will be one of the toughest things he’s had to do,” Edwards said. “I told him if you get through and you get a West Point education, you can pretty much write your ticket for the rest of your life because it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The network and the people he has can pretty much get any job that he wants at that point.”