Hargrave Military - The School Behind The Myth

It was home to Fred Bennett most recently - many other Gamecocks in the past. It is known as one of the true hotbeds for Prep football in the country. A mecca of sorts for college coaches looking for a perfect fit to fill a hole in their rosters. It's Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia ...

Report from Hargrave Military Academy

One of the things I have said several times is that if I included Hargrave Military Academy in my Southern Recruiting Rankings, they would finish in the Top 3 every year. Of course, Hargrave has to recruit 60 players every season, but the Tigers and Coach Robert Prunty have the luxury of getting some of the very best players in the country that signed with regional powers like Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, NC State, and Arkansas, South Carolina just to name a few.
2003 Arkansas Signees from Left - Duston Moore, Marcus Harrison, Jeremy Palmoore, and Rodney Giles.

Hargrave held a media day on Thursday of last week, and long after everyone else had enjoyed their free lunch, I stuck around to watch the Hargrave team in action on the practice field. No longer is it the glamorous life of dozens of college coaches coming through the school and the local newscasters with their cameras; now it's time to go to work

Getting Ready to Run on a muggy day.And work they do. The players at Hargrave were finishing up the last of their three-a-day practices last week on a lonely field back off of the beaten path away from everyone. It's now just the coaches and the players all alone in a military school environment. It makes more than one kid wish he had studied a bit harder as a freshman in high school and made his grades.

It was already game week last week for the Tigers, and Coach Prunty wanted to see who was ready to suit up. The players had to run 14 100 yard intervals under set amount of time depending on their position.

"Anyone that can't make the times, doesn't travel this weekend," bellowed Coach Prunty across the field. "Anyone starts complaining, coaches, pull them out of the line, and they can sit this week."

The players ran hard, and some players more ready for the run than others shined. Maybe the most impressive display was seeing big Khalif Mitchell, al 6-6 and 285 pounds of him, finish all of his runs under the time that was required of the skill players.

After the conditioning was over, Hargrave went to a live 11v11 passing drill. Sizing up the defensive line that included standouts Marcus Hands, Terry Hunter, Mitchell, Brian Soi, and Brandon Setzer, I knew it was going to be tough for the offensive line to keep them out of the backfield.

I was not wrong.

Hands, Hunter, and Soi generally made life miserable for the quarterback. When they weren't getting the "touch" sacks on the quarterback, Philip Brown, Jonathan Hefney, and Travis Tolbert were picking off the passes and taking them the other way.

The linebackers didn't have a chance to show their stuff in the coverage drill, but players like John Baranowsky kept the intensity high. 

The entire defense reads like a who's who of 2003 recruiting, and the offense has some gems of their own. Decody Fagg looks like he will miss the season, but Justin Harper and Armand Cauthen look like two players ready to pick up the slack

TheInsiders.comThe running back slot will be well manned with Danny Ware and Darrell Blackmon, and the above group of Arkansas signees will give the Hargrave OL plenty of size.

It's a tough job for Coach Prunty to rebuild his team every fall. There is no senior leadership, and the kids he and his staff teach this year will be gone next year. There is an abundance of talent though, make no mistake about that.

The negativity on a college site message board picks up when a player doesn't qualify, but there are certain things to keep in mind when dealing with a prep school.

1. It doesn't count against a player's eligibility. He can report to school a year older, stronger, wiser, and more disciplined and still have five years to play four.

2. The competition that these players will play with and against is better than just about anything they would have seen as a scout team redshirt.

3. They are in good hands with Coach Prunty and the Hargrave Staff.

Sending a player to Hargrave can be a very good learning experience for the players involved. They come to college much more focused and ready to handle the rigors of the college game and atmosphere.

After the lonely three a day practices on the hot and muggy fields in Chatham, VA, college is a breeze.

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