Once 3-star Elijah St. Hilaire made his commitment to Army official on Wednesday, he explained it came down to an adult making a decision vs. a teen-ager.
The teen-ager in him considered accepting an offer from Bryant University, where he would join a friend and have a more relaxed lifestyle than at the most prestigious military academy in the nation, if not the world.
But the adult in him recognized the long-term advantages of attending West Point as well the chance to play at the Football Bowl Subdivision level for the Army Black Knights.
"This decision is bigger than me," he said. "This decision is for the future me. I had to make an adult decision."
St. Hilaire was listed by Rivals as an "athlete" from Palisades Park (NJ) High, but Army recruited the 5-foot-10, 176-pounder as a slotback and kick returner.
He said the last hurdle to accepting his offer from Army was his father, Eric St. Hilaire. His father had to work the weekend of his son's official visit on Jan. 13th when his mother attended with him.
My mom had loved it to, and she had told me to go with my heart. My heart is with Army.
- 3-star Army commit Elijah St. Hilaire
"When I first started talking to my dad about Army, he was against it," St. Hilaire said. "He didn't know much about the military and the opportunities. He wanted to go with me on my official trip, but he had to work that weekend. I finally told him there is only so much I can explain to him, and he needed to see it for himself."
So St. Hilaire and his father made an unofficial visit to West Point last weekend.
His father's first-hand impression?
"He absolutely loved it," St. Hilaire said with a laugh. "My mom had loved it to, and she had told me to go with my heart. My heart is with Army."
In addition to the Army and Bryant, St. Hilaire had an early offer from Colorado State, but he said he never seriously considered the Mountain West school.
St. Hilaire's versatility stood out with Army's coaches.
"I played a lot of positions on both sides of the ball in high school," St. Hilaire said. "I think that helped me that I went to a smaller school and was needed to play so many different positions."
In addition to slotback, he's played running back, wide receiver and even wildcat quarterback. On defense, he's played linebacker and safety.
"I'm excited for this opportunity," St. Hilaire said. "It wasn't really a tough decision. The academics are better and the football is better. It came down to me having an adult mindset when I made my decision."
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