BROOMFIELD — As one of the nation’s longest standing football programs, the gridiron at the United States Military Academy at West Point is steeped in tradition.
From the Commander and Chief Trophy to the Army-Navy game, there are few programs in the country boasting roots in the game as deep as the Black Knights. Andrew McLean is anxious to become part Army’s legacy in football, but that is not what motivated him to move his playing career to West Point.
The Broomfield defensive end, instead, was struck by a more substantial aspect of the service academy — the heritage of the institution itself.
“When I did my visits out there I really enjoyed the history of West Point and all its tradition,” he said. “I can remember walking around campus and all the statues of the great past generals, like (Douglas) MacArthur. I knew I wanted to be part of it.”
McLean is down to counting weeks before he joins the long gray line, with the recruit leaving for basic training July 20. But it might be a spell before his name is announced over the PA system after making a sack in Michie Stadium.
The 6-foot 3-inch, 250-pound lineman is pulling a stint at the Army’s preparatory school before entering the academy proper. The route is typical of a majority of Army football players, McLean said. And while he is champing at the bit to get on the field, the former Eagles star believes the year will provide a good segue to NCAA Division I football and Academy life.
“They have their own team that plays Navy prep and a bunch of JuCos, so I’ll still have the opportunity to play,” he said. “But it will also be beneficial, because it will get me ready for all the little things that go along with Army life — keeping my shoes shined, recognizing rank and the academics.”
McLean has kept himself busy this summer gearing up for the next level of football and basic training — which involves its share of physical excursion. And given he is now seven months out of surgery repairing a full ACL tear in his right knee, he has had a shrunken window to do it all.
The lineman had to lay off running and lower body weight training for the first four months after going under the knife Oct. 31. It has only been recently the he has safely been able to put the knee to full use, and it has responded well.
“I feel back to normal finally,” McLean said. “I get sore, but nothing ice can’t handle.”
His doctor told him the ACL should be stronger than before the surgery, McLean said. And, so far, he has seen a few peaks in his performance now that he is back to his old self.
“My speed is better and my lateral movement is back to where it should be,” he said.
McLean is expected to exclusively play defensive end in college, but in high school he was a jack-of-all trades on the line. Depending on the circumstance, McLean would play tackle or end for Broomfield. His speed, strength and athleticism made him a threat anywhere coach Gary Davies lined him up.
“He was the type of player that could take away half of the field from an offense,” the Broomfield coach said. “And if they ran away from him, he had the motor to chase a player down.”
McLean’s injury in the Oct. 12 Standley Lake game started a bad run for Broomfield. The following week the team lost three more players due to injury.
“It was a stretch where even the kids felt was going to be hard from then on out,” Davies said. “You feel a little doubt creep in.”
McLean is nervous about his upcoming opportunity, but excited at the same time. There are few things that equal getting to become part of such a storied institution and football team.
“What stands out for me is getting to represent West Point as a whole,” he said. “It’s an honor.
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