For One Recruit, the Chance of a Lifetime

Jon Pozonsky has wanted to be an Army officer for as long as he can remember. Even while growing up in Alaska, the 6-foot, 210-pound defensive back prospect dreamed of attending West Point and embracing a future as an elite Army Ranger.

So when the choice came down to attending one of the Service Academies following a stellar high school football career at Canon-McMillan high school in Canonsville, Pennsylvania, Pozonsky kindly said "thanks, but no thanks" to the campuses in Colorado Springs and Annapolis, deciding instead to take his talents to the banks of the Hudson. Declaring that he would have committed to West Point even if he had received an offer from a prestigious BCS power like Penn State, Pozonsky signed up to join the Army football program along with linebacker teammate Brad Strimel last September. Recently I caught up with Pozonsky, and got the scoop on his plans to not only serve his country, but to help improve an Army football program which hasn't had a winning season since 1996.


Take us through the recruiting process. Which schools were recruiting you out of high school? Which schools offered you a scholarship? What made Army the choice for you?


Throughout my high school career, my only goal was to get into an academy - preferable West Point. I was receiving letters from Army, Navy, Air Force, Akron, Ohio University, Dayton, and Penn State. However, since my goal was to get into an academy, I didn't pay any attention to any of the colleges besides the academies. I had gone to a football camp in the summer for Navy as well as Army. While I was at Army, I received a private tour of all of the facilities at West Point from one of the coaches of the football team at the time. I loved the atmosphere and the location of West Point because it reminded me very much of Alaska (I was born and raised in Alaska). I also felt like West Point was where I was meant to be. When I had gone to Annapolis, I had a very good experience there as well; however, the "sea life" just isn't for me and the thought of being on a boat for months at a time wasn't exactly what I wanted to do. Therefore, when Army offered me to come play football for them, it was an easy "yes" for me.   


I know you committed to Army when coach Brock was still the coach. Did the subsequent change in staff make you reconsider your decision? What did coach Ellerson (or a member of his staff) say or do that made you want to stay committed to Army?


When I had heard of the staff changes at Army, it had no effect on my decision on going to West Point. West Point is the best out of the three academies in my opinion and there wasn't anything that was going to change my mind. I had been interviewed for a local newspaper and during the interview the guy asked me how serious I was about wanting to go to West Point. My response was even if Penn State had offered me a full ride to play football for them I would still go to Army. I want to serve my country and an academy is the best place to start. There was nothing that coach Ellerson could have done or said that would have changed my decision to go to Army.


You played on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball for Canon-McMillan. For which position were you recruited by coach Brock and his staff? Did coach Ellerson and his staff recruit you at the same position?


While coach Brock was the head coach, I had been told that I was being recruited for running back and eventually fullback because of my speed (I run a 4.48 40-yard dash). When coach Ellerson took office, the position that I was being recruited for stayed the same.


What are your thoughts on coach Ellerson? Does his reputation as a genius defensive coordinator make you more excited to play for him as opposed to somebody like coach Brock?


Even though I am being recruited for offense, the fact that coach Ellerson is known as a defensive mastermind greatly excites me. I believe that a good defense is a good offense and that a good defense really does win games.


Have you met any of your future teammates yet? If so, have you discussed your goals or turning around the West Point football program? Is there anything specific you'd like to accomplish on the field at Army?


I met a few of my future teammates at the 2008 Army-Navy game in Philadelphia but never discussed anything about the upcoming season. However, I have met a few other guys on Facebook and have discussed the upcoming season with them. One goal that I do have is to try and make the special teams by my sophomore year at West Point. I think that the extra year at the Prep School will significantly help me while I am at the Academy.


Your teammate, linebacker Brad Strimel, also committed to playing football at Army. What can you tell us about Brad as a person and as a football player? What was it like to go through the recruiting process with him?


Brad is a very good and tough linebacker. I know that he has wanted to go West Point for a long time. He was actually offered much earlier than I was so he and I never went through the recruiting process together. However, we have gone to different events together such as the Army-Navy game and have both talked to the Army coaches when they came to our school to see us.


What do you think you're greatest attributes as a football player are? What do you feel you need to improve on going onto the FBS level?


My greatest attribute as a player is my toughness and my tenacity. I always work hard in anything that I do, especially in the weight room. I have never quit in anything that I have done and even when the going has gotten really tough the thought of quitting has never crossed my mind. If there is a goal that I have set up for myself to reach, I will do anything I can to reach that goal. I feel that I need to improve on my mental preparation before every game and practice that I attend.


I understand that you were also a standout on the track and wrestling teams at your high school. What kind of events did you participate in? What kind of results did you have?


This past year I wrestled for the first time since I was in second grade. It was a very humbling experience for me because I had received the offer to attend West Point a couple months prior to this and I thought I was on top of the world. My team however finished 4th in the W.P.I.A.L. and had taken first at Virginia Duals in Virginia.

Track was much more rewarding experience for me. I have run the 4-by-1, the 100-meter dash, and the 200-meter dash. This past year our 4-by-1 relay team qualified for states. However, I was unable to attend because I was leaving for Alaska. Our relay team also took first place in several meets.


What are you looking forward to most about playing football at Army? What do you hope to get out of being a West Point cadet?


I am most looking forward to playing Air Force and Navy. I love the rivalry between the teams and I want to help turn around the football program. By being a West Point cadet, I want to be the best soldier America has ever had. I know that this is a huge goal, but the only thing that I have ever wanted to do was to be in the military and serve my country.


I read that one of your goals in life is to become and Army Ranger. Can you tell us why that career choice interests you? Is being in the military something you've always wanted to do?


If I ever want to retire from the Army, I want to go into the FBI or the CIA. Going into the Rangers or Special Forces is excellent training for either one of those fields. If I were to go into the FBI, I would want to go into the SWAT division. If I go to the CIA I would like to become a field operative.


Finish the sentence: The one thing Army fans should know about me is…


That I love America more than life itself. I am the biggest patriot you will ever meet and the only thing that I have ever wanted to do is to serve my country. writer Adam Nettina welcomes reader comments and questions. He can be reached at AdamNettina[at] Top Stories