Army football player receives honor from service academy


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The Army football team is ending its regular season with its traditional rival, the Navy, while earning accolades along the way.

Black Knights linebacker Arik Smith is the 2021 recipient of the Charlotte Touchdown Club’s Defender of the Nation Award, awarded to a football player in a service academy who has shown outstanding performance on and off the pitch.

“In football I would say I’m very detailed and focused on the fundamentals of what I’m doing,” Smith said.

Smith is a senior, captain and linebacker at West Point, and the second player to win the nation’s defenseman award under coach Jeff Monken in eight seasons in the military.

During his career at West Point, Smith totaled 230 tackles, but it was his accomplishments outside of football that helped him stand out.

“Outside of football I just try to be caring and I guess introspective, making sure I watch what I’m doing and treat others as they should be treated,” Smith said.

Serving others is as much a part of Smith’s life as football, he says. He and his father spend time in the offseason restoring properties in Baltimore to provide housing for underprivileged families.

“It’s something I love to do. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, probably when I was five, around the same time I started playing football, ”Smith said.

Smith’s first thought after receiving the award is the immediate impact he will have on the Army’s (8-3) schedule, which will face Missouri in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 22 in Fort Worth, Texas. – after Saturday’s tilt with the contenders at MetLife Stadium, of course.

“With this award, I try to represent Army football by continuing on the path of excellence,” said Smith.

The Defender of the Nation awards ceremony took place in Charlotte on December 6 and will air on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. Friday.

“The more awards people like me and the rest of this team receive, the more attention they bring to the Army football program. Having said that, we are not just a program to compete, but to win, ”said Smith.


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