McKibbins Just Looking for His Chance

Jeremiah McKibbins played with his fair share of high profile prep football recruits in his four years at Crespi Carmalite. Not only have former teammates Kevin Prince (UCLA) and Joseph Fauria (Notre Dame) gone on to the BCS level in college, but McKibbins routinely went against some of the nation's best while playing in the highly competitive California Interscholastic Federation.

With teams like Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks, Servite, and Loyola routinely appearing on the schedule, it's no wonder that the Celts have produced numerous prep standouts in recent years, with head coach Jeremiah Ross amongst the nation's best at preparing his players for the college game.

Yet despite his team's success on the field and despite initial recruiting interest from schools like UNLV and Washington, former Celt running back Jeremiah McKibbins found his scholarship offers limited at the end of his high school career at the Encino, California campus. Lost in a shuffle of highly capable and productive running backs to come through the school's hallways, McKibbins never had the opportunity to post the jaw-dropping statistics some high school running backs record during their prep careers, instead embracing a role as an ultimate team player for Crespi. A standout track athlete in the offseason, McKibbins was thought to be too small to play running back in college by most recruiting services, including Inc., which labeled the five-foot, eight-inch McKibbins as a "tweener" defensive back prospect.

One school which didn't fall victim to the familiar stereotypes of height and weight "slotting" in recruiting McKibbins was the United States Military Academy, which offered the speedy Californian a scholarship under the direction of former head coach Stan Brock. Recruited as a running back by both Brock and new Army head coach Rich Ellerson and his staff, McKibbins said that he isn't bitter over the lack of attention he saw from big time programs in high school, and said that what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in hard work on the field.

"A lot of colleges are looking for players who are physically superior to most athletes, but it does not necessarily mean they can play," explained McKibbins when asked about why he didn't receive more attention out of high school. "I'm a person who believes that the best person who can play should be on the field. If [a college coach] feels that size is more important than talent then so be it, but I like my size; it is God given…He made me like this for a reason. My size could help in coach Ellerson's offense but in the end it will always comes down to my hardwork and dedication."

Even if the opportunity had arisen for McKibbins to attend another FBS institution, there is no telling that he would have jumped at it. The son of a Navy man, McKibbins said that West Point's combination of top notch academics and structure-oriented approach to student life were both major selling points once Army's staff came calling last fall.

"My dad was in the Navy, so you can say I grew up in a military family. I like the way things have to be organized and everything is planned and on time… The reason I chose Army was because West Point offers a great opportunity to serve our country and because they offer one of the top educations in the country…and I am the type of person that puts my education before social activities."

And when it comes to advice about FBS level football, McKibbins said that Crespi's well represented alumni haven't left him high and dry. Saying that he still speaks with the likes of Prince and Fauria, McKibbins holds fast to what he says is a need to constantly improve his game, knowing that he'll have to contend with similarly highly touted high school prospects once he arrives on the banks of the Hudson.

"The main thing I take from [former Crespi players] is to learn how to plan your schedule and not to slack off," said McKibbins, who also made mention to the fact that "there is always someone competing for the same job that you are [in college."

A self-described "coachable" player who looks forward to exploring further academic interests in the fields of finance and computers, McKibbins will spend a year at the United States Military Prep School before arriving at West Point. He said he hopes to use the year to not only improve as a running back in Army's option offense, but also to better "understand how to be an officer." Above all, McKibbins remains humble about his high school experience, and looks forward to the chance to help turn Army's football program around in the near future. .

"I love the game and respect it," said McKibbins. "I am a team player that gets along well with coaches and my teammates. I am looking forward to playing for Army."

Adam Nettina welcomes reader feedback and questions. You can contact Adam at AdamNettina –at- Top Stories