Nick Schebler has watched the Army-Navy football rivalry on television and has always been mesmerized by the scene and intensity of those games.
“That is a kid’s dream to be apart of a game like that,” Schebler said.
The Davenport Assumption senior is a step closer to becoming a participant in one of college football’s most traditional and enduring rivalries as he signed a letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
“I’m going from a Knight to a Black Knight,” Schebler said during his signing ceremony at Assumption in front of family, friends and coaches.
Unlike most colleges, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defensive back understands Army isn’t simply playing football and attending class.
After a year of USMA Preparatory School that is called “beast training,” Schebler will have four years at the USMA followed by five years of required service beyond graduation. In addition, he’ll have military responsibilities during the summers on campus.
“I’m going to have to work on my time management skills,” Schebler admitted. “Obviously, I’ve never had any experience like this and the training I’ll go through.
“I know it’ll be difficult and take a lot of hard work, but I think I can do it.”
Schebler said his first interaction with the USMA came last year when a basketball recruiter contacted him.
“That kind of fizzled out,” he said, “but it just put the idea into my mind. I had never really considered it before that point.”
Recently, Schebler — who did not play football his freshman season — sent his highlight tape to multiple schools. Assumption football coach Wade King received a call from the Army coaching staff the next day.
It isn’t Assumption’s first involvement with the USMA as graduates Ted and Fritz Bentler both played defensive line for Army.
“Nick will enjoy the discipline and uniformity of the program,” King said. “It speaks a lot for our school that they’re interested in our students.”
In the past, King said defensive backs in his program with Schebler’s size develop into outside linebackers in college.
“They’re going to find a spot that he can help them with,” King said. “I think his best football is ahead of him. He’s still learning the game and this is going to give him a great opportunity to do it on a big stage.”
Schebler, who hauled in 28 receptions for 383 yards and seven touchdowns while making 48 tackles in an injury-plagued senior season, visited the West Point campus last weekend.
Until that point, he was undecided between it and attending Division-II Truman State on a football scholarship.
But after touring the athletic and academic facilities, meeting several Cadets and the coaching staff, Schebler returned home Sunday convinced Army was the perfect fit. He canceled his visit to Truman State and committed to the USMA on Monday night.
“All the pieces fell in place,” Schebler said. “It was a rather quick process.”
Schebler said the prep school fields its own football team and facility where he’ll compete this fall. From there, he’ll join an Army squad which was 2-10 this past fall and 3-9 in 2011.
“I feel like I fit in well,” Schebler said. “It is a great opportunity and a way I can better myself, family and my country.”
King believes Schebler’s leadership and discipline equates to what Army looks for in its recruits.
“He’s a quiet leader, not one of those kids that are going to beat his chest and jump up and down,” King said. “I think he appreciates a good challenge.”