Rooney commits to Army, wins state

After winning a second consecutive state championship at Bentonville (Ark.) High School, Harrison Rooney spoke to on his recent commitment to the Black Knights. Rooney, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound inside linebacker also received an offer and was heavily recruited by Air Force, but felt "more inclined" to spend the next four years at West Point after weighing his options.

"It was kind of weird how my commitment went down on Wednesday," Rooney said. "I made up my mind to give my verbal (to Army) after talking it over with my parents and was about to call Coach Verpaele when I heard from the head coach. It was perfect timing for Coach Monken to call. He said he was calling just to talk, which we did for awhile with the conversation ending with me giving him my verbal commitment. He said he wasn't expecting that when he called and was shocked, but excited that I chose Army.

"There were several things that attracted me to West Point. I've caught a few of their games on CBS this season, UConn and Air Force, and really thought they play with such toughness. It's how I like to play and think I'd be a good fit there with what they do. I'm also impressed with how they develop leaders and emphasize leadership at the Academy as well as in the football program. Committing to West Point is like a dream come true for me. I fell in love with the idea of going to one of the service academies early on in the recruiting process. Air Force, obviously, has a great program and they've had an outstanding year. When it came down to it, though, I just was more inclined to go with the Black Knights.

"I first started hearing from Coach Verpaele and Coach Corless around mid-season. They told me they like how physical I play, that I attack the ball, and can run a little bit more than a lot of the linebackers they've seen. I had a good relationship with both coaches. Friday, I was talked more with Coach Corless and I'm just really impressed with him. He's a great guy and I'm excited to be able to play under him."

Rooney celebrated back-to-back Arkansas 7A championships on Saturday evening after the Tigers defeated Fayetteville 24-21 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. After winning the title in 2013, Bentonville started the season 0-4, but got it together to reel off nine straight victories to end the season as champions. Rooney, a three-year starter, played an integral part of the epic two-year run which started with a state runner-up finish as a sophomore.

"I couldn't be any happier with how this week has gone," he said. "We beat the team we lost to in the state finals in 2012. To end the year on such a good note with a special group of seniors, honestly, it feels kind of good. I'm going up this weekend for the Army-Navy game in Baltimore. I can't wait to be there for that. Then I'm going on my official visit (to West Point) on January 2nd. When I get back, my focus will be on football. I'll be conditioning with a trainer to get me ready for next year."

Rooney said he's completed the West Point application process after receiving his nomination this week. The First Team All-State linebacker will be going in to the Academy direct next summer. Top Stories