INTERVIEW: Payam Saadat & Chris Smeland PT 6 continues its exclusive interviews with Black Knight co-defensive coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland. In part 6 of 6 the two coaches discuss Army's safeties. The two coaches discuss recruiting at the academy and Payam Saadat shares some thoughts on his life as an amputee.  What areas of the country do each of you recruit and how do you find recruiting at a service academy?


Chris Smeland: Recruiting at a service academy is easier in some respects and more difficult in some respects. The easy part of it is that the mold that you are looking for is a little bit smaller because of the academics and the commitment after graduation. Becoming part of the Academy is more than just playing football at the college level.  So your pool of candidates is a little bit smaller. The difficulty is that other top universities are looking for similar guys, players with great academics that have great character and have great athletic ability. So to compete with those top universities for those top athletes that's pretty difficult. I think that's the tough part of recruiting [at West Point].


Coach Ellerson has gotten the coordinators off the road a little bit so we're kind of in an assistant's role.  I'm helping Joe Ross in the states of Michigan and Ohio in recruiting. 


Payam Saadat: I'm on the West Coast, Jim. I'm helping out in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the Pacific Islands.  So as coaches you recruit the areas where you already had a lot of contacts in and already know the terrain.


Payam Saadat: Correct. That's big for Rich [Ellerson]; he doesn't want to put guys in an area where they have to learn the lay of the land so to speak.  It makes a lot more sense to put guys in where they know the area. They know the people that are going to be able to understand what each of us coaches are looking for. That "mold" that Chris is talking about for us to be more efficient.  One last question I have is for you coach Saadat is on a personal level. West Point is a service academy that produces Army officers and obviously we are a nation at war. Some of our readers may have been suffered life changing wounds or had men under their command seriously wounded.  As a young man you suffered a traumatic injury due to an explosion (which cost Saadat his left hand). LINK TO LA TIMES STORY


You overcame that and have been very successful in your professional and personal life. Is there anything you can share with those who might find themselves dealing with traumatic wounds about your recovery and how you dealt with that life changing event?    


Payam Saadat: First off my situation is because of ignorance. These young men and woman out there, their situation is because they are heroes. They're fighting for a cause. Mine was a result of youthful ignorance.


Each person is going to be different in how they overcome adversity. Being an amputee is not necessarily an easy thing to overcome. Day by day you're going to be reminded by looking at yourself that you are an amputee; that you are different. I do think that when you do get around the right people who can help you achieve whatever it is you are trying to get back to doing. There are a ton of things that will allow amputees to get back to what they were doing at an able body pace. I think that's part of the therapeutic process that you go through to get your mind right.


There are a ton of great stories; Lt. Col. Greg Gadson [photo at right by AP Photo/ New York Giants, Jerry Pinkus] is one of those. His situation in what he's overcome and who he's become are one of a ton of examples.  Peers of people who've recently been wounded can look to him for how to get back on the right track and achieve success. Me, wherever I can insert myself to help someone, I'm all game for it. I had the right mix for myself. Whatever that mix is, I'll pass it on to whoever I can to see if that helps them. It's a little bit on the individual basis. If that's part of my plan [in life] of being here, great, that's awesome. That's even bigger than football for me.   Top Stories