PHOTO: Tyler Komorowski (second from left) says it’s the guys on your left and your right that keep you committed to the football team and West Point.
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By TOM SHANAHAN
Across the college football landscape, the transfer portal and Name, Image and Likeness has turned the sport on its head. Coaches are learning the old ways don’t work anymore, especially with the conclusion of spring football.
Release a depth chart and expect your No. 2 quarterback to start packing his bags. J.T. Daniels announced last week his transfer to West Virginia. Two years earlier he transferred from USC to Georgia. NIL also can influence a transfer. Playing time aside, an athlete might decide his NIL potential is better served at another school.
It’s the wild, wild West, but it’s not Army West Point.
It’s business as usual as coach Jeff Monken and the Black Knights take to Michie Stadium Friday for their annual spring game. Army loses plenty of players who decide a military life isn’t for them after boot camp the summer before their freshmen year or following their freshman or sophomore season.
But the day before classes begin their junior year, their “Affirmation Ceremony” commits them to the next seven years – two more of school and five as a U.S. Army officer. On a Zoom call with Army defensive tackle Tyler Komrowski, I asked him if the Black Knights are amused by all the transfers – some of them seemingly knee-jerk reactions.
“I don’t know what to think of it,” Komorowski said. “It’s so foreign to us here with our beliefs. They’re free to make their decision, but at the end of the day, I know why I came here, and all the guys know why they came here.”
He added the military training on top of playing Division I college football adds to their commitment to the team and academy.
“I think it brings us closer as a whole team,” he said. “We go through so many struggles together. We go through summer military training and some of it is tough. We do that and come out of it closer. You know each other better. You talk to guys in the locker room, and it feels like you’ve known these guys your whole life, even though you’ve really only known them a couple of years. Knowing what we’re going to do when we’re done with the academy brings us closer and that much more cohesive.”
Komorowski, with his broad shoulders as a 6-foot-3, 285-pounder, his shock of dark hair and his surname, would be a good casting call if there was ever a remake of the 1982 M*A*S*H episode of Elmo Hitalski played by the hulking late NFL defensive lineman John Matuzak. But Komorowski, a chemical engineering major, is a lot brighter than Matuzak or his M*A*S*H character.
He’s optimistic about his senior season after a knee injury at the end of his sophomore season in 2020 wiped out his 2021 spring football and limited him last fall. There also wasn’t much playing time at his nose tackle position. Nolan Cockrill, a dominant player, took most snaps, but he finished his career last fall. But through all the challenges, Komorowski says he never seriously considering transferring.
“If anybody told you they didn’t think about leaving, they’d be lying,” Komorowski said. “You definitely have those days, but I knew I was staying here start to finish. I have never seriously thought about leaving. You look at the guys on your right and your left and they keep you here. You’re doing it for them. Affirmation day was just another day for me.”
Komorowski, like many Black Knights, didn’t think about the service until he was recruited out of Wierton, West Virginia.
“I knew I wanted high academics, but I also wanted high athletic competition,” said Komorowski. “I came up here for a couple games and the spring game. Getting around the guys and seeing the culture and type of people you’re surrounded by every day is what brought me here in the end. I have a top tier education and bright future for myself.”