Tanner Sheffield talks Army commitment

Tanner Sheffield told his head coach, Scott Jones, at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., that he knew all along that he wanted to go to a military academy for college. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive end was offered by Army then took at summer visit be sure before giving his verbal commitment to Brent Davis on July 10th.

"Being in ROTC, I figured a military academy was the best way for me to go," Sheffield told ArmySports.com. "I let my head coach know that and he actually ran into the Army coach at a coaching conference. He let them know I have the grades to do it and that I was a good kid who was really interested. In March I started hearing from Coach Bateman. He said they had talked to my coach but what really got them interested was watching my highlight film. They loved my hustle and pursuit of the ball.

"There was some miscommunication I had with the coaching staff on the offer. I came home from spring practice to find 13 letters from the coaches congratulating me on my offer from Army. I was a little confused because I had been talking with the coaches and was thinking I was going to receive and offer, but I hadn't received one yet. So I contacted Coach Bateman and he said that the offer was there and they'd like me to be a Black Knight. I knew that's where I wanted to go but I just wanted to take a visit to the school first to make sure before I committed.

"I went up the weekend of the Army spring game with both of my parents and loved everything about it. What really impressed me were the coaches and how excited they were about the program. Being from Georgia, I'm familiar with them. We know that Army hasn't been living up to their full potential lately and I honestly believe this is the right staff to get them there. They're excited to build it back up and the vibe I got from both the coaches and the players tells me that's what they're going to do.

"West Point is a place I felt I'd fit in well. I'm big on military history, football tradition, and education. What better place to get all three. Being able to serve my country was also a big reason for my commitment. It's an honorable thing to do. I love my country and I'm proud to serve it. I think everyone should want that opportunity. I talked to Air Force and Navy as well. I actually attended a one-day camp at Air Force one June 1st, but I wasn't as impressed with it compared to West Point. Others may feel differently but I can't think of any better place to be going to college. I decided it was the best option for me."

Army was Sheffield's only offer at the time of his commitment but was hearing from Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgia Southern, Navy, and Air Force.

Although he plays three-technique and nose guard at North Paulding, Sheffield said Coach Bateman expects him to play on the edge at defensive end in college.

"In our last game I played mostly the three-tech and had three solo tackles and five assists," he said. "I'm definitely coming off the ball harder this year. I'm doing a better job of shooting my hands to get extension on the offensive linemen. It's helped me a lot in my pass rush because it enables me to get off blocks.

"We won our first two but have lost three in a row. The good news is we haven't started regional play yet. We start this week. It's a young team with talent we just have to come together as one. Once we get our confidence up we can start to turn this season around."

Sheffield says he is planning on using his official visit to attend one of Army's home games in October or November depending on his football schedule.

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