Fullback Darnell Woolfolk was spurned by Division 1 faculties till Military employed Jeff Monken to teach a workforce that had produced one profitable file in 17 years. Then, the fortunes of a bitterly disillusioned prospect and a long-suffering academy radically modified.
Monken recognized Woolfolk as a high recruit, and the teenager finally made all of the naysayers pay. He developed into “The Wrecking Ball,” a runner so highly effective he emerged as one of the prolific scorers in Black Knights historical past and a key determine in restoring satisfaction to a tradition-rich program.
Powered by Woolfolk’s team-leading 823 speeding yards and 14 touchdowns this season, the Black Knights take a 9-2 file into Saturday’s recreation in opposition to Navy (3-9) within the 119th renewal of this storied rivalry. Kickoff is about for Three p.m. at Lincoln Monetary Area in Philadelphia.
Military, 10-Three final season, has received at the very least 9 video games in consecutive years for the primary time because it strung collectively nationwide championships in 1945 and 1946. The No. 22 Black Knights get pleasure from their first nationwide rating since 1996.
Monken, in his fifth season, helps to elucidate the resurgence by pointing to Woolfolk’s forceful function in a triple-option speeding assault that ranks second nationally with 303 yards per recreation.
“He has actually made a distinction in our workforce,” Monken stated of the 5-foo-9, 235-pound senior. “He’s robust, he’s bodily, he’s decided and he’s proficient.”
With 37 profession speeding touchdowns, Woolfolk is tied with Mike Mayweather (1991) for third all-time in Military historical past. Given his full-bore method, he couldn’t have landed in a greater place.
“I’d moderately attempt to run by way of anyone,” Woolfolk stated, “than run away from them.”
Woolfolk conjures up teammates by leaving would-be tacklers strewn in regards to the area.
“He’s violent. He’s an aggressive runner. I don’t assume I’ve ever seen one particular person deliver him down,” quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. stated. “He’s only a nice a part of this workforce. He epitomizes what Military soccer is about.”
Woolfolk deliberate to signal with Division III Ithaca earlier than Military’s pursuit.
“I simply thought he match what we do,” stated John Free, a member of Monken’s rapidly assembled employees, who strongly beneficial Woolfolk a number of weeks earlier than the signing deadline. “He’s low to the bottom. He’s robust as nails.”
Till Military’s late involvement, the recruiting course of had been agonizing for Woolfolk, regardless of a standout profession at Maine-Endwell Excessive Faculty in Endwell, N.Y., close to Binghamton.
“All people from my faculty was anticipating nice issues. All people thought I may play,” he stated. “My mother and father [Sandy and Barry] stored me up. They stated, ‘All the things occurs for a purpose.’ They informed me I’d do nice issues regardless of the place I went.”
When Woolfolk arrived at West Level, he was hardly an in a single day success. He spent one 12 months at prep faculty there. His freshman manufacturing? One catch for 18 yards.
Nonetheless, he stored religion in himself as he sought so as to add wanted muscle whereas studying the intricacies of the old-school triple possibility.
“I knew if I continued to work arduous my time would come,” he stated. “One of the best ways to achieve success on this place is to know what the offense is doing as a complete and know what to anticipate from the protection.”
He rapidly felt comfy on a roster stocked with neglected gamers.
“We’ve got a variety of guys like that,” stated Hopkins, Military’s second-leading rusher with 783 yards and 10 touchdowns. “We weren’t technically the fitting measurement or quick sufficient to get the seems.”
Woolfolk is now so highly-regarded that he accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine Recreation on Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla. He seems ahead to being commissioned as a area artillery officer.
He stated it “means all the things” to be a part of a senior class that helped Military soccer once more characterize excellence. After snapping a 14-game shedding streak to Navy, the Black Knights search a 3rd consecutive victory in opposition to their archrivals.