Highland junior defensive end Nick Czar may not have his entire future mapped out, but he's got a definite plan for where he wants to attend college and play football.
Czar has made a commitment to attend Army, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he did so before beginning classes for his junior year at Highland.
"What actually sold me on it was the life that it provides after you're there," said Czar, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound two-way starter for the Bulldogs at defensive end and offensive tackle. "Early? Absolutely not because my grandpa's been in (the Army), my uncle's in it. It's a Czar tradition in our household. It produces leaders and I believe that will set me in a good position for success in life."
Nick's uncle, Jason Czar, is a Lt. Colonel in the Army. Nick's grandfather Jerome Czar served in the Army and his other grandfather, James Griffin, served in the Marines.
If that's not enough tradition, great-grandfather Albert Czar was in the Army and great-grandfather Alfonso Herrera was in the Marines.
Czar went to the Army-Air Force game last season and was impressed with the way the cadets interacted, the campus and just about everything else.
This summer he has attended football camps at Purdue, Indiana, Illinois and Northwestern and is headed for the Army camp next month.
Plenty of schools have shown early interest and may be forthcoming with offers. But for right now, Czar's plans include playing for the Black Knights on the scenic banks of New York's Hudson River.
The announcement did not seem out of the ordinary for Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke. Perhaps that's because few things about Czar are ordinary, from his high grade-point average (he was an all-state academic selection as a sophomore) and drive to succeed to his work on the football field and in the weight room. Now you can include his early scholarship offer and commitment to Army.
"With the average kid, yeah it would be surprise me," Warnecke said of Czar, who had 47 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery as a sophomore. "But he's been dead set on Army from the start and that's really where he wants to take his career. He is a kid that's going to get some looks from a lot of other big schools, but when you know, you know."
Highland will have a pair of Division I offensive tackles this season since senior Tanner Farmer committed to Nebraska earlier this month.
Like Czar, Farmer is a wrestler and highly motivated to succeed.
Highland has another massive lineman in senior right guard with college potential in Josh Jackowski (6-4, 310).
"It's definitely nice to start pumping a couple (big-time recruits) out," Warnecke said. "We've asked an awful lot as far as commitment from our boys since we took over and those that have done that have set themselves up for success."
Warnecke was in close contact with the Army coaching staff and relayed word of their interest to Czar. Once Czar got the scholarship offer, he couldn't have been any happier.
"I forgot to commit the first time and I had to call them back the second," he said with a laugh. "I gave (assistant) coach (Tucker) Waugh the call and they gave me an offer. I'm honored that they would do that because I'm at such a young age."
Czar attended Mater Dei High School in Breese as a freshman before transferring to Highland. Besides being a two-way starter in football, he's also a wrestler and Warnecke said both sports have helped him.
"He's a kid that just craves the conditioning and anything you can throw at him," Warnecke said. "I think he's going to continue to get stronger and get bigger. He dropped weight to wrestle at 210 last year and coming into camp right now he's about 235, but he could be 255 and just a monster. He will continue to get stronger; he's one of our strongest lifters in the weight room."
What are Czar's top attributes on the football field?
"I think it's his hands, the way he brings his hands with such violence," Warnecke said. "Whether you're talking offense or defense, he's quick. In football terminology he's got a push-pull move that's second to none. He's got good leverage and is so quick off the ball."