February 11, 2011

Army Black Knight Fans: Meet CB, Cortland Fort

Cortland Fort 's parents are starting to look like prophets.

The high school senior who only last month turned 17, has already been living up to his middle name of Josiah.

"It's from the Bible,'' Fort said on Thursday, just two days after committing to play football for Army. "It means, 'Great King.' He was a young leader.

"That's kind of ironic,'' he pointed out, "because that's what I'm turning out to be.''

According to AboutBibleProphecy.com, Josiah, son of King Amon, became King of Judah at age 8.

Fort didn't begin playing varsity football when he was 8, but he was only 13 when he entered Etiwanda High School in Southern California. Because he was competing against boys 17 and 18, he essentially had to have a permission slip to allow him to compete on that level.

He grew into a role of leadership, which included being his school's scholar-athlete and being named the football team's captain as a senior.

Because of his relative youth, Fort's initial start will be at the USMAPS rather than West Point. For the 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback, that's not a problem.

"Since I was young I've always played up,'' he said about competing against older kids. "I like taking on challenges, and I feel that with God on my side I can accomplish anything. I'm not sure what will happen after graduation, but if it's going to war, if that's the route He wants me to take, then so be it. Then that's the route I'll go.''

His namesake did just that, as the web site reads. "King Neco of Egypt led his army against the Assyrians, and warned King Josiah not to interfere while his army passed through Judah. But Josiah refused to turn back and led his army into battle at the valley of Megiddo. The enemy archers struck King Josiah with their arrows and fatally wound him.''

I have speed, physicality, and I guess I like getting into receivers' heads and making it a long night for 'em, … I can come up to the line, too. I'm a head-hunter. I love that feeling.

- Army commit & cornerback Cortland Fort

Quarterbacks will be slinging their arrows in coming season, and Fort welcomes those challenges as well. "I have speed (4.40 in the 40), physicality, and I guess I like getting into receivers' heads and making it a long night for 'em,'' he said with a chuckle. "I can come up to the line, too. I'm a head-hunter. I love that feeling.''

He loved the feeling he experienced on his official visit last weekend. He liked the structure, how well the cadets are taken care of, and the facilities - both in the general population and what he termed, "The top of the line indoor and outdoor fields and the humungous weight room.''

That won over visits he took to Arizona, Azusa Pacific, San Jose State and Stanford. "West Point is an amazing opportunity,'' Fort offered. "Deciding what to do was a stressful time, and it was really emotional when I finally decided. I know I have a future and I don't have to worry. I won't be sitting her wondering.

"I know it will be hard,'' he added, "but I know I'm going to be secure. They raise you to be a leader, and that's what I feel I should be.''

The athletic gene is there from his parents. His dad, he said, was athletic and played high school basketball. His mom ran track, and played volleyball and basketball.

Her father served in the Air Force and her uncle served in the Marines.

A former high school teammate, Angel Santiago, was a quarterback on this past season's USMAPS squad. A resident of nearby Fontana, Cal., Santiago, Fort said, "Was a big influence on my decision.''

Etiwanda High is about 45 miles due east of Los Angeles, and barely 10 minutes from Fontana - due west on historic Route 66.

They will be reunited in a couple of years when one of the youngest players on the team joins the big boys who play in Michie.

"The young talent this team has is exceptional,'' Fort said about Army football. "I want to be part of that, and I see myself competing and working my way into a spot.''

Like some his classmates/teammates, Fort has his own web site - cortlandfort.com. You can find just about everything about him there - his 4.49 40 at a San Diego combine, his 1550 SAT score, that he was MVP on Southern California's Junior All-America Football's Fontana Generals in 2007. And that he returned a fumble recovery 85 yards to clinch a high school victory with 1:15 to play.

What you will not find there, of course, is that some day Cortland Josiah Fort might walk with kings and lead his own army.

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