September 15, 2009

Visit solidified Black Knights' lead for Crucitti

Coming into the weekend Jonathan Crucitti made no secret of the fact that the Army Black Knights were the leader for his services, along with Stanford. Crucitti made his visit (unofficially) to West Point for the Black Knights' game against Duke, but was on an official visit for the Army baseball team. According to North Carolina native, nothing happened for Army to lose their lead. As a matter of fact, it enhanced his interest in the Black Knights and may have put Army over the top.

GoBlackKnights.com caught up with Crucitti on his return from his official/unofficial visit to Army.

"My weekend there was great," says Crucitti to GBK.com. "Both coaching staffs (baseball & football) took really good care of me and I was able to interact with players from both teams… it was an overall great experience."

BASEBALL

In fact from the moment Crucitti got off the plane the bonding process with Army began, when he was picked up and escorted by Kyle Fleming, who was a member of the Army baseball team and 2008 Patriot League Champions. "Kyle Fleming (baseball graduate assistant) picked me up at the airport Saturday morning and took me straight to the game," Crucitti shared.

"I went to a tailgate before the game and it was great. But I did not get to the game in time to make his way on the field (pre-game) and I sat right in the middle with the baseball team and the cadet.

THE GAME

One question that might have Army fans wondering … did the outcome of the game have any impact on Crucitti?

For Crucitti, the interesting part of the afternoon was seeing Army up close and personal, as well as assessing the overall football environment. "The first half was great and the defense was able to keep Duke off balance the solid majority of the first half," assessed the 5-foot-11, 190 athlete. "On offense the holes were there, weather it was option, counter or isolation of plays.

I got swiped up in it (atmosphere) and the cadets know how to have a good time."

HOST

Crucitti was hosted throughout the weekend by members of the baseball team. Initially by freshman Kramer Peak, followed by sophomore Ben Koenigsfeld. "He (Koenighfeld) was cool and it was good to get a perspective from an underclassman and upperclassman," states Crucitti, who stayed the dorms both nights.

"It was cool and I like how for the most part that athletes are broken up and stay with regular students. Andy Seaman (pitcher) who stands with Zach Peterson (Army starting center) and there were several combinations like that, but for the most part you are with regular students in your company. Everything is clean and extremely well kept."

Thoughts - from an athletic stand, I was impressed with how down to earth all the players were. I spent a lot of time with the baseball guys and they are such a tight nit group, and initially I wasn't sure about that, but they made me feel welcome.

The campus - I didn't know what kind of weather and atmosphere to expect and it was just great. You can feel the tradition just walking around campus.

THE PROSPECTS

Joining the dual sport recruit on his official visit where give other prospects and one in particular caught Crucitti's attention. "One who was really influential is Brent Peterson," stated an impressed Crucitti. "He has turned down offers from UCLA, Pepperdine and Fresno State and has already committed to Army … I believe he committed when he was up there Easter weekend. To make a decision that early over schools like that, speaks about him as a person and I wanted to see what factors that lead him to that decision that early. So I definitely spent some time with him."

"He said that when he weighed out his options, no place was going to prepare him more for the future than West Point. He's going to have an opportunity to get drafted this year out of high school, but he's going to turn it down. Whatever signing bonus he was going to get and you are talking in the hundreds of thousand for him … he's a legitimate prospect. Hearing it from him, made me feel good about the academy."

THE FOOTBALL FACILITIES

"The weight room is one of the best I've seen," states Crucitti. "I've been to schools in the SEC, ACC and Big Ten and combination of the size of the weight room and the equipment is not to be matched."

THE FOOTBALL STAFF

"They were great and Sunday morning I went up to the football office. In order to get to the coaches offices, you have to walk past three Heisman trophies. That just speaks to the rich football tradition there. I know that each and everyone of those coaches want to return this program to that level and I believe they are well on their way." shares Crucitti.

"Coach Gene McKeehan who is my actual recruiting coordinator, he introduced me to all the coaching staff, along with had a chance to speak with Coach Ellerson.

Coach Sadaat actually sat me down …. Because I'm really interested in the defense they run. He sat me down, explained and drew up some X's & O's, and then applied it to the day before (Duke game). It was need to sit down with a possible further coach and just talk football.

Both he and Coach McKeehan laid down five positions for me as possibility. They are started to recruit a new kind of athlete that is very versatile and for me they talked about for me from slot back, free safety, and rover."

PARENTS

"Both are from New York, but my mom has never been to West Point, but my dad has and they wish they could have come up with me," Crucitti stressed. "So he could understand what I was talking about and feeling more so than my mother.

When I arrived home, we had a long chat over dinner and they can sense from the way I talk how excited I am… they understand how much I like it (Army)."

CLOSE TO A DECISION?

While Crucitti had a great visit, he wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger. Now that the visit is over, the big question for Crucitti is where does Army stand on his list?

"In all honesty and when I sat down with Coach Sotolano, the only thing that kept me from committing is that I made promises to Navy (October 3rd) and sometime in January to Stanford to take my official visits there," says Crucitti. "My one on one with Coach Sotolano got close to me committing. I told him if Army was the last of my visit and it would have been over with … I would be a Black Knight. But I need to have something to compare it to, so I'm going to take my other official visits.

But it was such a great experience this weekend. I don't think my level of interest could go much higher and it was a lot more than I expected.

The thing that put Army so high on my list is knowing that I'm wanted there. There's never been any question that they have been interested in me, but not only as a student-athlete, but as a person, from the first conversation. And building a relationship with the baseball coaches since my sophomore year after a showcase and football coaches, as soon as Coach McKeehan came to our high school this spring … it makes me feel that I'm wanted by both programs at Army.

Being part of Coach Ellerson's first true recruiting class, under his watch is a sign of a fresh start and restoring back the Army tradition is something very special.

GoBlackKnights.com will continue to stay in touch with Crucitti throughout his recruiting process.


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