"It was pretty overwhelming. I'm trying to just hang out right now and think about everything. It was unlike anything I had ever been to or been a part off. I'm very excited that I can call myself a Black Knight now," said Brady Earnhardt shortly after returning from his visit to West Point. Earnhardt committed the morning after returning and then signed an acceptance of appointment on Wednesday.
Earnhardt was one of 13 prep stars visiting West Point the weekend prior to signing day. Mike Ugenyi, brother of Army defensive lineman Victor Ugenyi, also visited and also eventually committed to Army.
Earnhardt had a long, rough road to Army. After this junior year he was considered one of the top prospects in the southeast. He had visited Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Western Kentucky and North Texas and received over 100 letters from interested schools that coveted a player who had run for over 1,300 yards by utilizing impressive 4.39 forty speed and incredible strength for his size. However, during a summer camp at the University of Tennessee disaster struck.
Earnhardt suffered a devastating double injury to his knee and hamstring. "Doctors told me I might never play again," said Earnhardt. The best-case scenario was that Earnhardt would miss the first seven games of the season. However, Earnhardt, a team Captain, had different ideas. Already a workaholic who would regularly spend two hours a day training, he intensified his workout regimen to overcome the injury and get back on the field to help his team.
Earnhardt returned in the third game of the season for Mt. Juliet. Utilized primarily as blocking back, he went on to rush for 560 yards on 55 carries, scoring eight touchdowns in helping his team achieve a 9-2 record.
However, despite returning to the field and averaging 10 yards a carry, virtually no schools were recruiting Earnhardt. "It was extraordinary. I was thinking that my career was over," said Earnhardt. But one school did keep in touch: Army.
Coach John Brock from Army, who had been in contact with Earnhardt all along, never lost faith in the Tennessee prospect's potential. "I respect him more than anything. He never doubted me, never gave up on me and always told me that, 'you are going to get through this,'" said Earnhardt of the Army assistant coach. Finally, Army was confident that Earnhardt's injury had been overcome and they offered. Earnhardt was invited for the visit and said, "I didn't really know what to expect at West Point but one of the greatest moments of my life was being there."
Earnhardt says that he is fully recovered from the injuries and has his same speed back. He's passed the physical examination required for entry into West Point. He's been timed at a 4.39 by laser and as low as 4.32 by hand. Stronger than some college offensive linemen, the 5-foot-8, 193 pound Earnhardt can bench 380 pounds and has handled 23 reps at 225 pounds and 35 reps at 185 pounds.
The future Black Knight, whose first stop will be the prep school, says the Army staff wants to give him a look at several positions, "They want to see me at a fullback position, behind quarterback, a couple of slot positions, outside wingbacks, safety and outside linebacker," said Earnhardt. "They like my versatility and speed and strength." However, Earnhardt thinks he can give the Cadets a lift on offense, "Mt. Juliet runs the wing T offense so I'm real familiar with the triple option and running."
Wherever Earnhardt plays you can be assured that he'll give it his all. He's a person that Black Knights fans will be excited to watch on the football field and who will someday represent his country with honor as an Army officer.
Earnhardt's long road to Army
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