Nate combs

Nate Combs

Nate Combs is one of those kids who always seems to make good decisions.

When it came time to choose a high school, Combs decided to leave home and head across the bridge to St. Xavier.

“I went over and visited and really liked the school and knew a couple of people that went there,” said Combs. “I just decided it would be the best for me in the long term and provide me with the best education.”

So when it came time to choose a college, he decided to once again take the harder road with the most long-term potential, ultimately accepting an offer to play football at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to go,” he said. “It’s a long commitment.”

Going to school at West Point — the alma mater of a laundry list of notable Americans like Robert E. Lee, Dwight Eisenhower and sports figures like Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski — is all about commitment. Most graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants, with the obligation of five years of active service and three more years of inactive-reserve status.

That’s if you can even get in.

Combs, an honorable mention all-state performer for the Tigers and the defensive MVP of the annual East-West All-Star Game from his outside linebacker position, was submitted to a battery of written tests and physical examinations upon his acceptance of the school’s offer. A process he says was both difficult and time-consuming.

“It’s a long, long process,” Combs said. “You take tests, write things, go through tests with doctors. Your grades have to be very strong also, and luckily mine were.”

The Cadets had Combs on their radar for some time and he visited the New York campus last year as a high-school junior.

“I went last summer for junior day and really liked the campus. I talked back and forth with the coaches and it seemed like a good place for me, but I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to go,” Combs said.

But with his mind set on a study course of either law or engineering, Combs decided West Point was the right fit — on the gridiron and off.

Army, at one point considered one the elite programs in college football, is coming off a 3-9 season that culminated in a 38-3 loss to Navy in the 108th meeting between two of the most legendary rivals in the world of sports.

Then again, Combs feels he is well-prepared for big stages after competing in one of the best rivalries in high school athletics — St. X vs. Trinity.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “To come running out onto the field with 40,000 people cheering is almost something you can’t describe. It’s just awesome.”

The two teams traded victories this season, with Trinity winning in Kentucky’s Class 6A championship game in December. The Tigers lost in overtime, 34-28.

The loss capped a season where Combs led the team with 93 solo tackles, becoming the leader of a defense that surrendered only 130 points all year to lead the state in the category.

Of course, that’s all in the past. At just shy of 6-foot-3 and weighing 215 pounds, Combs expect his first season with the Cadets to be more about trying to add bulk to his frame while adjusting to the speed of the Division I game.

“I think I’ve going to end up in a red shirt-type year,” he said. “I’ve got to add more weight. Once I do that, we’ll see where it goes from there.”

With Nate Combs involved, the path to West Point and beyond will likely be paved with good decisions.



Famous West Point graduates

New Albany resident and St. Xavier football star Nate Combs will be adding his name to the list of those who have attended one of the country’s most prestigious institutions. Here is a partial list of famous alumni from the New York school:

• Buzz Aldrin (Astronaut)

• Ulysses S. Grant (Civil War General)

• Douglas McArthur (World War II General)

• George S. Patton (World War II General)

• Dwight D. Eisenhower (U.S. President)

• Robert E. Lee (Civil War General)

• Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy)

• Abner Doubleday (rumored inventor of baseball)

• Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University men’s basketball coach)

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