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August 19, 2014

About face: Highland's Czar switches from Army to Navy

It might make for interesting conversation down the road with some future military friends.

But Highland High School football lineman Nick Czar insists his decision to change his verbal commitment from Army to Navy included a lot of careful thought and research.

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound two-way starter originally committed to Army the summer before his junior season, then did an about-face this summer and has set sail for the Navy.

He took his time, spending a week at both military academies before making his final decision.

"They both had summer seminars where you get to live the life of a cadet for a week at West Post and you live the life of a midshipman for a week at Navy," said Czar, being recruited as a defensive end. "I just liked the people at Navy better, the brotherhood. I didn't have a problem with Army, but I liked what they had there at the Naval Academy.

"It just seemed like a good fit to me."

A two-way starter on the line for Highland, Czar had 52 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries last season as the Bulldogs finished 11-1 overall and 5-0 in the Mississippi Valley Conference.

He also was a valuable member of one of the region's top offensive lines that included current Nebraska freshman Tanner Farmer.

Czar made the phone call himself to give Army the news.

"It was really hard," he said. "I had to call my recruiting coach and it was a tough call because we'd been keeping in contact for the past year. I like him a lot, but I just knew it was time to make that call."

Was there something particular about the Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, Md., that changed Czar's mind?

"I would say it was just the people there," he said. "I just really connected with them well. They seemed like a class act and it just seemed right.

"On top of the awesome brotherhood, the great education, they have a winning football team. It's very impressive."

Czar said there was also varying levels of interest from other Division I programs like Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Purdue.

"They said if I did well there (at their camps) they would offer me, but I truly was not interested in going to one of those schools," Czar said. "I knew that a service academy was for me.

"Unlike my commitment to West Point a while ago I'm not looking at anywhere else. I've settled on Navy and I'm not keeping my options open."

Czar has a positive feeling about Highland's chances of repeating as MVC champs again this season.

He says he's also a different player.

"I'm a lot stronger now than I was last season," Czar said. "I play with a better pad level and I think my feet are quicker. My conditioning needs to be a lot better and I've been doing a lot of stuff on my own to make that happen."

No one is happier to end the recruiting journey than Czar.

"I finally don't have to worry about pleasing random coaches by saying 'I'm interested,''' he said. "I can enjoy my senior year."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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