CHATHAM, Va. --- Check out photos from the Hargrave scrimmage, featuring UNC commitments Johnnie…
Related: 2009 Hargrave Roster Ferguson Talks Kent Has Focus Norman's Plan Rhodes Ready National Board According to Hargrave Military Academy post-graduate head coach Robert Prunty, the goal is simple. "Get kids off the streets so they can become productive citizens in life. Do something good to help people," said Prunty. "It ain't about football." For a man who could quickly retell stories about the famous player who came through the town of Chatham, Virginia to play for him over most of the last decade, and could probably just as easily count the number of former players on NFL camp rosters this month (31), Prunty finds another set of numbers much more meaningful. "Since I've been here, I've had over 600 players sign a scholarship to play football at the next level. Two hundred of those players who earned scholarships are first generation college students." Combining that number with how the aptly named "PG" (post-graduate) team comes together, the work seems quite daunting. Every year every player is new: new chemistry, new attitudes, and new coaches. Somehow Coach Prunty gets the job done every year and the Tigers venture around the country to take on ten college teams each fall. Where the 2009 Hargrave Tigers signed: Trevor Black - OLB - Signed with Marshall D.J. Bunn - CB - Signed with Notre Carolina Johnnie Farms - OG - Signed with North Carolina Sean Farr - WR - Signed with Louisville Prince Kent - CB - Signed with Miami Deon Long - WR - Signed with West Virginia Theron Norman - S - Signed with Virginia Tech Raynard Randolph - DT - Signed with NC State De'Antre Rhodes - DT - Signed with Virginia Tech Jerrell Rhodes - RB - Signed with North Carolina Mike Thomas - DE - Signed with Ole Miss "The first thing I do is pray," a solemn Prunty admits. "I get seven scholarships to bring in 56 kids. We go through maybe 3,000 kids. We had five combines, and we try to pick the right fit [for us]. Who will fit with us, the personalities? It is just a grueling process because it takes so much out of you physically. Then it is about communication. We do a lot of talking with them on the phone seeing if it is about them or if it is about their team." Prunty understands after sending home many players over the course of his career, including some big names who signed with BCS programs, that if it is ever about the player, the fit probably will not work out during three-a-days under a 100 degree Virginia sun as they practice on an old airplane landing strip that looks more like a pasture than field. For an admittedly high-energy coach, the field looks quite different but it brings out his most successful team-building formula. "Be physical. If you are not physical then you are going to have a hard time playing. I am one of those guys that we want you to bust your mouth, and that is our thing. We are very physical in what we do. If you don't fit that mold, then it is going to be tough to play." Prunty believes the shock of three practices in a day pales in comparison to that of the military lifestyle. "When was the last time you had lights out at ten? Some of them don't even remember the last time they went to bed at ten," said Prunty with a wry smile. "You have to become a listener all of a sudden; you have to take on responsibilities all of a sudden." So when the Hargrave PG roster, which was finalized last week, gets on the bus for ten road games, they are certainly looking forward to getting out and seeing the world they remembered. But don't expect Prunty to do much site-seeing on his trips. "It takes us eleven months to get this team together. We'll start on September 1 on the next class." Ego Ferguson No Ego Here Ego Ferguson transferred to Hargrave for his senior year of high school, and Coach Prunty expects the big man from Maryland to be dominant this fall and for years beyond. "He is special," said Prunty. "A lot of people think he is going to be a defensive tackle, but I am telling you that he is going to be a defensive end. I was doing some research and if you look at the NFL defensive ends, he is their size. To play in the NFL you need to have that big body, and I don't know why there is so much talk about him going to defensive tackle. Of course if he doesn't watch himself and eat right he could go up to 300 pounds, but the way he is right now I think he is perfect for a strong side defensive end, especially depending on what conference he plays. He needs to be careful about what team he picks because some teams want those smaller defensive ends. "J.R. moves well, is very physical, plays with good leverage, and he is going to be a special player because he is mean. He has a mean streak, too." Ferguson's father was on hand for the media day practices on Monday and Ego Ferguson, Sr. plans to travel down to Mobile on September 5 when Hargrave plays the University of South Alabama's emerging program. Prince Kent Prince And The Pauper The biggest buzz around camp was Prince Kent saying he was no longer committed to Miami, which normally goes against Coach Prunty's decree of signees sticking with their schools. However, Prunty believes this is a unique situation. "I tell the kids that if you going to come here and decommit, don't do it. In Prince Kent's situation, the University of Miami made the decision and they were not recruiting him anymore. I'm telling you one thing though, I'm not giving up a Prince Kent. With 31 players on an NFL roster earlier this month for training camps and over 300 in the NCAA's Football Bowl Series division, Prunty has plenty of names for comparison and he picked a first round draft pick to do that. "He and Fred Bennett, who I had here and is with the Houston Texans, are identical. Look at the bodies, look at the sizes, look at how they move around, and Prince Kent has the same body type that Ras-I Dowling, who is at Virginia, had when he was here. It is a Panther-like sleek, they are long, rangy, can cover the field and get there. I like guys like that, and I'm not giving up a player like that." Signable Every year, the Hargrave coaches find a player who did not sign with a D1 school who ends up becoming one of the most recruited players in the country. Last year, that player was safety Jonathan Meeks, who signed with Clemson. The year before, Sam Jones signed with NC State after becoming that "hot prospect." This year, Prunty believes several players have a chance to become that big name. "Alex Owah, they say he committed to Virginia, but for some reason things didn't work out there. This kid could be one of the best running backs to ever come here," said Prunty. "Laurence Gibson, the 6-6 tackle, and Dan Polaski the 6-9 offensive lineman who was here last year came back this year at 6-9, 315 pounds, and he is going to blow up this year. "Both quarterbacks impress me and don't be surprised if Hargrave has twenty on the offensive and defensive line who sign Division One. We have 31 linemen, and we have about 20 guys who will sign D1. We've never had that here, and it's a pretty special group. The strength of this group is up front."
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