L’Hommedieu to enter West Point July 1
It’s a good thing that cadet life for Tyler L’Hommedieu officially will start with a meet-the-football-coaches picnic at West Point on July 1.
Because the last year has been anything but a picnic for the former East Rowan linebacker.
When East’s 2012 football team shocked most of the world with eight wins and a third-round playoff loss at Concord — in overtime, no less — L’Hommedieu was literally right in the middle of the Mustangs’ surprisingly ferocious 3-5 defense.
He was only 200 pounds then, but you either had to run away from him or you had to send two guys to block him. He finished his senior year with 120 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. He was not only all-county, he had supporters for county defensive player of the year.
The recruiting process had it ups and downs for L’Hommedieu. Mostly downs, to be honest, because he is 6 feet tall. He had the tenacity and the motor to play big-time football, but size and speed factors left him a little short for the D-I recruiters.
The military academies surfaced as an option, and local resident Ty Cobb went to bat for L’Hommedieu. L’Hommidieu had the grades (3.88 GPA), character and athletic achievements — besides football, he was decent in basketball and excelled as a track shot-putter — to get an appointment to the United States Military Academy.
“This young man is a leader,” Cobb said. “He was a captain on all three of his high school teams.”
L’Hommedieu says he learned a lot — game knowledge and life knowledge from his East coaches. He singled out Jason Barnes, Danny Misenheimer, Trey Ledbetter and Rick Roseman.
“I probably owe Coach Barnes the most,” L’Hommedieu said. “He taught me so much about defense and he’s the one that got me in the weight room.”
L’Hommedieu was close to acceptance directly to West Point after graduation, but he instead was one of 220 selected to enroll in the United States Military Academy Prep School. About 11 percent of the cadets at West Point first attend that prep school, which is known as USMAPS or West Point Prep.
West Point Prep has been around since 1946.
‘It was a tough year, but it actually worked out great for me,” L’Hommedieu said. “I think it’s going to all be for the best. I got bigger (he’s now at 215) and I didn’t lose a year of football eligibility.”
Many of the students who spend a year at West Point Prep are recruited athletes with potential such as L’Hommedieu. It’s not exactly a redshirt year, but it’s not far from it.
L’Hommedieu had little trouble making all A’s at East, but he admits he was exposed to a different level of academic challenges at West Point Prep. West Point Prep focuses on ethics, math and English, because those three subjects form the foundation for a student’s Academy education.
In some ways, L’Hommedieu was more prepared than his classmates when his family dropped him off at West Point Prep last summer. Cobb spent time working with him on marching and drilling before he left.
“I was glad he showed me a lot of the basic movements,” L’Hommidieu said. “There were a hundred small things that he helped me with. Simple stuff, but important stuff.”
West Point Prep plays an eight-game football schedule that concludes with a matchup against the Navy Prep School team. L’Hommedieu only played four games before he suffered a season-ending thumb injury that required surgery, but he was starting in the middle of a 3-3 stack defense and thriving.
“He was directing the music,” Cobb said. “Same as in high school.”
In a game against Bridgeton Academy on Oct. 5, L’Hommedieu intercepted a pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. He also had three solo tackles that day.
He remembers the pick-6 pretty well, as you might expect.
“Their quarterback rolled out, and we had a safety coming up,” L’Hommedieu said. “He had to hurry the throw and I intercepted it right on the sideline. The hardest part was staying in bounds after the interception. Returning it was pretty easy.”
Not everyone who goes to West Point Prep survives a year and is accepted at the Academy. Some transfer, and some don’t just make it, but L’Hommedieu is still standing.
“I’ll be starting at the bottom in July,” he said. “But I’m prepared for it.”
After one football game, Cobb introduced L’Hommedieu to Jon Crucitti, a West Rowan graduate who has excelled at the Academy academically and athletically for four years.
They probably didn’t talk about that time that Crucitti threw a touchdown pass, ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass in a game at East — all in one night— but maybe they did.
“Jon is high up, sergeant major of his regiment,” L’Hommedieu said. “All I can do is strive to be someone like that.”
L’Hommedieu is home now, preparing physically and mentally for the tests that will follow that July 1 picnic. A priority for him is wearing the black and gold, making the football team and the travel team.
“Special teams is proabably where I’ll get my first chance,” he said.
July 2 will be R-Day at West Point. Reception Day.
The new cadets will be dropped off at 6 a.m. After two short welcoming speeches, the families will have just 90 seconds to say goodbyes to the new cadets.
The families will return at 6 p.m. By then, L’Hommedieu and his classmates will have started West Point’s version of basic training. The 1,200 or so new cadets then will march in front of their families and perform the traditional “oath ceremony.” That will be the start of a new life for L’Hommedieu.
He may have been able to handle it all a year ago, He’s really not sure. He does know that he’s a whole lot more prepared for what he’ll face now.
“A year ago, I was worried and filled with anxiety about whether this was the right decision for me,” L’Hommedieu said. “Now I know it’s the right decision and it’s a very comfortable feeling to already know 200 of your classmates. That’s pretty big.”
The broad outlines of the next 12 years of L’Hommedieu’s life are set in stone — four years of school and five years of active duty, followed by three years of service in the reserves.
Chances are good he’ll fill in the blanks with actions that will make the folks back home proud.