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Army coach wanted Air Force star Arion Worthman to play at West Point

November 2, 2017 Updated: November 2, 2017 at 4:33 pm
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Air Force Academy quarterback Arion Worthman scrambles against CSU November 12, 2016 at Falcon Stadium. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Army coach Jeff Monken expected Arion Worthman to become a star at Air Force.

But he wanted Worthman to play for him at Army. When Monken took the Army job in late 2013, he immediately started recruiting Worthman.

“We got after him right away,” Monken says. “I went and visited him there at his home in Illinois. We were disappointed we didn’t get him.”

It’s common for service academy teams to recruit against each other. Some of the biggest stars in service academy football almost became stars for rival programs.

Navy coach Paul Johnson tried, and failed, to persuade quarterback Shaun Carney to play for the Midshipmen. Instead, Carney started four seasons for Air Force (2004-2007).

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun came close to talking quarterback Keenan Reynolds into spending his college career on the edge of Colorado Springs. Instead, Reynolds gained 4,559 rushing yards for Navy and finished fifth in 2015 Heisman Trophy  voting. 

Monken is surprised to see Worthman playing quarterback for the Falcons. He believed Worthman would play halfback.

“Really, that’s what he is,” Monken says. “He’s a strong, powerful runner.  He runs through tacklers. What a great lower half of his body. He’s so strong. People are hanging on to him, and they can’t take him down. Guys can’t grab him and throw him to the ground. They have to get hold of his legs.

“And he throws the ball really well, too.”

 

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