Let the Rivalry Begin

Atascocita (TX) defensive backs A.J. Pouncy and Frederick Blow are the best of friends. For now, anyways. But starting next season, the longtime friends and teammates will be playing against each other in one of college football's most intense and underrated rivalries – Navy against Air Force.

"I was suppose to [visit Navy] this weekend but had to change it to Air Force with this being my last official visit left," said Blow, who also held offers from Army, Montana State, Sam Houston State and North Dakota State. "I hated to change it at the last moment but I just felt that I would be able to see the field faster at Air Force and the jobs that are available in the Air Force after graduation really intrigued me."

Blow had previously acknowledged Navy as his favorite school in a recent interview with GoMids.com, but said the prospect of starting by his sophomore year at Air Force was just too good to pass up.

"The new defensive coordinator/DB coach said I should see the field my freshmen year coming out of the prep school and be starting by my sophomore year," said Blow in regards to new Air Force coordinator Matt Wallerstedt. "The Navy coaches didn't really say anything as far as playing time or breaking the depth chart down to me to where I could see myself playing...[but] the Air Force coaches made it very obvious that the opportunity is there for me to start for three years."

Starting early was not the only attraction for Blow, who commented that Air Force's post-graduation service requirements fit more in line with what he was looking for as compared to Navy's.

"I want to do something in business and have a job that would allow me to live as normal as life as possible such as a ‘9-5' type job -- and that is available in the Air Force depending on your career field," explained the defensive back, who made District 5A-19's All-Academic team in 2009. "Also, in the Air Force I liked the fact that you get your choice of bases to go to and that you are more than likely going to get one of your top three choices."

While Blow chose Air Force for the chance to play early and for what some see as a more liberal post-graduation service requirement, his friend and teammate A.J. Pouncy chose Navy because of its strong academic tradition and recent on-field success. Pouncy had been high on Navy for several weeks, but after visiting Annapolis and spending time with current Navy defensive back Emmett Merchant, the Texas prep star finally decided to pull the trigger on his commitment.

"My visit went well," said Pouncy, who also held offers from Army and Sam Houston State. "We toured the campus and [our hosts] showed us all the team equipment, weight room, and training room and I spent most of my time with Emmett Merchant. He is real cool and actually we talked about a lot."

While he was not officially offered by the Air Force Academy, Pouncy said that he was being recruited by the Falcons. He was nevertheless struck by the familiarity between the Navy players and coaching staff, and said that ‘The Brotherhood' mentality of the team was a major attraction for him. Saying he enjoyed how the Navy teamed seemed like a "close knit family," Pouncy also couldn't help but marvel at the opportunities presented by a Naval Academy degree.

"They have one of the best education's in the nation and when I graduate from there, [employers] will be pretty much begging me to work for them," added Pouncy, who like his teammate was named to the All-District Academic Team.

Pouncy was also impressed by Navy's defensive coaching staff and in particular Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green, whom the Texas cornerback described as a "mastermind." Pouncy was named First Team All-District last season for the Eagles, and recorded three interceptions to go along with 69 total tackles.

While Blow acknowledged that Navy's recent success made attending the Annapolis institution an attractive possibility, he sees Air Force as a program on the rise and a better fit for what he is looking for post-graduation.

"I'm looking past football and into my serving time with this decision," commented the Air Force commit. "I see that [Air Force] only lost by three points in overtime [to Navy in 2009] and I feel that it is only a matter of time before they will win again...also the fact that they play in the Mountain West, which will have a automatic BCS bowl berth in the next couple years. That was really intriguing to me."

So is there any love lost now that these best friends and longtime teammates have committed to rival schools? Not exactly, say A.J. and Fred, who agreed that they'll likely stay close throughout their college careers. Both are looking forward to playing against each other not only at their respective academies, but also at their respective academy's prep schools. Pouncy will head to NAPS in 2010, while Blow will attend the Air Force Prep School.

"This is not going to bring us apart because we are still both going to a service academy and we are going to be going through some of the same things and I will be seeing him every year when we play them so it almost brings us closer in a way," said Blow.

Laughing, he added, "But don't let that fool you into thinking I'm not going to be giving him an earful about the big things Air Force is about to do while I'm there!"

Pouncy wasn't buying his teammates cockiness, but said just the same that their newfound rivalry isn't likely to come between their longstanding friendship.

"Of course we wouldn't let something like this come in between us. We have been friends too long," he said.

Pouncy won't be alone when he goes up against Blow in the future, however, as he revealed to GoMids.com that fellow Atascocita teammate Pablo Beltran (Scout.com's 11th rated punter) also committed to play for Navy on a recent visit. For Blow, who is looking forward to the chance to compete against his two teammates in the future, the three commitments of Atascocita players could not have worked out better.

"We are already going back and forth about which school is better and what it's going to be like when we play each other...Its going to make for good fun and good publicity as well so I really look forward to it."

Stay tuned to GoMids.com all week long as we bring you exclusive updates and feature stories from the biggest recruiting week of the year!

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