Navy Nabs Top Punter

The Naval Academy kicked off the week (literally) with another solid addition to the 2010 recruiting class. This time is was Atascocita (TX) punter Pablo Beltran, who gave his verbal commitment to the Annapolis institution, in the process joining teammate A.J. Pouncy as the second Atascocita player to commit to Navy within the past week.

The Naval Academy kicked off the week (literally) with another solid addition to the 2010 recruiting class. This time is was Atascocita (TX) punter Pablo Beltran, who gave his verbal commitment to the Annapolis institution, in the process joining teammate A.J. Pouncy as the second Atascocita player to commit to Navy within the past week. Pablo Beltran is one of the best kickoff specialist/punter prospects in the country, and is currently ranked as Scout.com's 11th rated punter in the Class of 2010. The strong-legged punter made First Team District 19-5A as a punter and Second Team All District as a kicker last season. Among his accomplishments in 2009, Beltran nailed a game-tying 36-yard field goal with time expiring in the Eagles' playoff win over rival Houston Chavez.

Beltran committed to Navy late last week after receiving a scholarship offer this past summer from Navy assistant coach Danny O'Rourke. Beltran (6-foot-1, 195-pounds) also held offers from Air Force, Houston, Tulsa and Army, but decided to forgo a last minute visit to West Point by committing to Navy.

"I was going to take a visit to Army this past weekend, but I had talked to Coach O'Rourke last week and basically made up my mind that I wanted to be at Navy," said Beltran, who was complimentary of the Navy assistant, whom he called "a great guy."

The All District performer continued, saying, ""I'm going to be getting a great education and playing big-time football so it is the best of both worlds for me."

Beltran's commitment comes at the same time as the commitment of Atascocita cornerback A.J. Pouncy, who chose the Naval Academy over a scholarship offer from Army. A third Atascocita player, Frederick Blow, also committed to a service academy when he chose Air Force over Army and Navy. Asked why he committed to the Naval Academy, Beltran was hard-pressed to find a reason why he wouldn't have.

"I'm excited to play for coach O'Rourke and coach Niumatalolo," said Beltran. "I'm just real excited to be a part of this Navy program. I mean, they beat Notre Dame this year. What more can you ask for?"

Beltran saw firsthand how far Navy has come in recent years when he visited the Midshipmen's practice prior to the Texas Bowl against Missouri. Impressed by the Navy coaches and players, the Texas punter/kicker's attraction to the program was only solidified by Navy's impressive 35-13 rout of Missouri in the bowl game.

"It really means a lot to be able to play for Navy and play for such a well-respected team," he said. "They beat Missouri -- and half the teams in the Big 12 didn't even beat Missouri -- so what does that tell you? Not only did Navy beat Missouri, but they blew them out. I was at the [Texas Bowl] and was really impressed."

While impressed by Navy's near-top 25 finish in 2009 and streak of seven consecutive bowl games, Beltran said two more factors were influential in getting him to pick Navy over the other service academies. The first is what he cites as the familiarity and "close knit" nature of the Navy team and staff, while the second is the chance to serve his country through a passion for the open ocean and a life of adventure. It was this former aspect, manifested in the personality of third year Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, which stuck out most to Beltran during his visit to Navy's pre-bowl game practices.

"When I went to practice when Navy played Missouri, the first thing that I could see from the beginning was that [coach Niumatalolo] knew everybody on the team, from first name to last name," said Beltran. "[Navy players] Emmett Merchant and Wyatt Middleton told me that not only does he know everybody's name and what everybody does, but he knows everybody's family too. He personally knows everyone and cares about everyone on the team. He's like the father figure and everyone else are his sons."

"I think coach Niumatalolo is a great guy and he had a lot to do with my decision," added the kickoff specialist.

Beltran, who said he has grown up around boats and loves the ocean, was also intrigued by the prospect of serving in the Navy. While he does not have any family or prior connection with the military, he felt that a career in the Navy following graduation would be more personally fulfilling and appealing for him than a career in the Air Force or Army.

"None of my family was in the military and no one close to me is in the military, but I really enjoyed learning about it and am excited about the opportunities you can get during your service and afterwards," explained Beltran. "I've grown up with ships and traveling around the world and that is something I really like. With the Air Force, it seemed more like a ‘9-5' job, which, I mean it's alright, but I enjoy working with ships and learning about the world and different cultures and environments. That's really why I decided to go to Navy."

"I really don't see myself working at a ‘9-5' job everyday for two years as my service requirement," he added.

Beltran can play all three kicking positions and was praised by ESPN.com Scouts Inc. as a player who "has the ability to kick and punt in college at a very high level." He said that Navy recruited him primarily as a punter, and that he also was being recruited by schools like Missouri and Ohio State prior to committing to Navy. He hopes to continue a recent tradition of excellence as far as the Navy kicking game is concerned, and could be an immediate impact player for the Midshipmen once he arrives on the yard.

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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