Recruiting: Arizona RB Lindholm caps big commitment Friday

Daxon Lindholm may live nearly 2,500 miles from West Point but it’s always been the Centennial (Ariz.) running back’s goal to play Army football.

Lindholm has watched every Army-Navy game since 2006, admiring one of college football’s most storied rivalries.

Now, Lindholm will be part of that rivalry. Lindholm was the sixth commit of a busy recruiting Friday for the Black Knights when he called Army offensive line coach Saga Tuitele with his decision.

“It’s (his commitment) feels phenomenal considering all of the American war heroes and presidents that set the foundation for this school,” Lindholm said. “It’s been a dream since I was a kid to play football at West Point. Coach (Jeff) Monken is a phenomenal coach, who I admire. He knows how to win. And, winning is a huge factor at the academy.

“I told (Tuitele) that his day will become a whole lot better. Then, I told him the environment, tradition and opportunity to protect liberties given to us Americans influenced my decision heavily.”

Lindholm, who is being recruited to play slot back, has run the Wildcat position for Centennial. He started high school as a 5-foot-6, 115-pound freshman. Lindholm is now 6-foot and 182 pounds. Arizona, Northwestern, Wake Forest and Colorado State were among the schools that recruited Lindholm. Army was Lindholm’s only offer.

“I run the option often and I’m also used at slot receiver so I fit into their offense very well,” Lindholm said. “Army is getting a very dedicated, selfless, hard-working player. I’ve been doubted my whole high school career and now, Army gave me a chance to prove myself.

“I’ve been doubted because of my size. Size has never been a factor in my mind. If you can play, then you can play. Football IQ comes in handy too and mine is very high.”

St. Paul’s Episcopal (Ala.) wide receiver Javonte Graves-Billips has only seen West Point from a virtual tour but he believes the adjustment to the campus and academy life will be smooth after living on military bases as a kid.

Graves-Billips’ father, Lacarno Billips, is a sergeant first class, who has served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Graves-Billips has lived in Germany. Both of his grandfathers are Vietnam veterans and were sergeant and staff sergeant respectively.

“It feels great to be a part of the football brotherhood,” Graves-Billips said. “I like the program Army has there and I love the tradition they have and I feel like I’ll be a great fit over there.”

Graves-Billips led St. Paul’s in receiving as a sophomore and junior. St. Paul’s has produced Alabama players A.J. McCarron, Mark Barron and Jacob Coker. Graves-Billips plays in a run-heavy offense so blocking and making a catch when called upon in Army’s system will not be a big role adjustment. He also has the flexibility to play slot back.

“I believe I can add a little weight and run the ball if the offensive coordinator think I would do better there,” said the 5-foot-11, 178-pound Graves-Billips.

Wesleyan School (Ga.) offensive lineman Tanner Bivins got a chance to visit West Point before the coronavirus pandemic in March. When Bivins received an offer from the Black Knights, Army jumped to the top of his list.

“The coaches, academics, facilities, campus and family atmosphere made it feel like home,” said Bivins who announced his commitment Friday. He called Monken, Tuitele and offensive coordinator Brent Davis with his decision Tuesday.

Bivins was a first-team, all-state offensive line and a state wrestling finalist as a junior. He chose Army over an offer from Navy

Army’s coaching staff left an impression with Bivins, who is being recruited to play guard, after his visit.

“Their overall attitude towards the brotherhood of Army football, they are always excited about what they are doing within the program,” said the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Bivins.

Tift County tight end Cade Anders’ commitment gives Army eight members of its 2021 class from the Peach State. Anders, who is 6-4 and 242 pounds, picked Army over offers from Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Charlotte and Coastal Carolina.

“I feel very honored to have the opportunity to attend such a prestigious place,” Anders said. “I believe Army has a tremendous coaching staff, who did a great job in this whole recruiting process and brought to me a feeling of comfort and made West Point feel like home.

“Also, I felt Army was the right decision because of the big-time football I will be able to play. And on top of that, the honor and opportunity that comes with attending an institution such as West Point is unmatched.”

Anders attended Army’s prospect camp last summer and became more intrigued about the academy.

“I was always very interested in Army I just didn’t know much about it,” said Anders, who has two cousins that are recent West Point graduate. “When I did some research, came to visit, and talked with the coaches, Army rose to the top of my list.”

Linden (Ala.) safety Tim Thurman is expected to provide Army’s secondary flexibility in the future. Thurman, who committed Friday, is effective in coverage and blitzing. Navy offered Thurman.

“It feels great to join the brotherhood knowing I’m set for the future and I’ll play big-time football,” Thurman said. “The coaches and how they went about recruiting (was a big reason for his commitment. I talked to coach Greg Gasparato and coach Tank (Wright) on a daily basis just about and they made me feel like family.”

St. Joseph’s (N.J.) Academy is Army’s second commit from South Jersey. Army is recruiting Ross to play inside linebacker. He made 76 tackles in 11 games as a junior. Navy offered Ross first, followed by Army.

“Coach (Shiel) Wood really likes my versatility, I love their aggressive style of play,” Ross said. “West Point is an opportunity not everyone gets. By me making this decision, I’m going to change the generational wealth of my family.”

2021 commits (34)
RB Noah Alexander, 5-10, 188, Eufaula (Okla.) HS: Other offers – Navy. Rushed for 1,448 yards and 16 touchdowns as junior.
TE Cade Anders, 6-4, 242, Tift County HS, Tifton, Ga.: Other offers – Georgia Southern, Georgia State, South Alabama, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina
LB Josiah Banks, 6-1, 190, Mount Tabor HS, Winston-Salem, N.C.: Other offers – Air Force
OL Tanner Bivins, 6-2, 300, Wesleyan School, Norcross, Ga.: Other offers – Navy, Eastern Michigan. First-team all-state lineman, state wrestling finalist as junior.
LB Steven Carter, 6-1, 220, Newnan (Ga.) HS: Other offers – Eastern Michigan, Coastal Carolina. Made 77 tackles as junior.
LB Brandon Castro, 6-foot, 190, Buford (Ga.) HS: Other offers – Syracuse, Louisville, Maryland, South Alabama
S Michael Cerniauskas, 5-11, 192, Catholic HS, Baton Rogue, La.: Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Ohio, Louisiana-Monroe. Father Chris is 1993 West Point graduate. Attended 2019 Army prospect camp.
LB Kalib Fortner, 6-1, 205, Knoxville (Tenn.) Central HS: 2019 stats – 119 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 10 sacks
WR Liam Fortner, 6-1, 185, Knoxville (Tenn.) Central HS: 2019 stats – 48 catches, 640 yards, 6 TDs
WR Javonte Graves-Billips, 5-11, 178, St. Paul’s Episcopal HS, Mobile, Ala.: Has led St. Paul’s in receiving the last two seasons.
K Trey Gronotte, 6-foot, 160, Covington Catholic HS, Park Hills, Ky.: Other offers – Air Force, Miami (Ohio). Made 9-of-12 field goals, 68 of 71 extra points and booted 43 touchbacks as a junior.
DB Terrell Jackson, 6-1, 182, Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, Fla.: Other offers – Navy, Air Force. Recorded 42 tackles and three interceptions as junior.
TE Danny Joiner, 6-3, 240, North Kansas City (Mo.) HS: Other offers – Bowling Green, Toledo
RB Darien Langley, 5-9, 160, St. Joseph HS, Santa Maria, Calif.
DB Casey Larkin, 6-foot, 180, Wall (N.J.) Township HS: Other offers – Navy
OL Gavyn Lewis, 6-5, 275, Morgan County HS, Madison, Ga.: Other offers – Air Force
RB Daxon Lindholm, Centennial HS, Peoria, Ariz.: First offer – Army
LS Jaxon Miller, 6-2, 240, Triton Central HS, Fairland, Ind.: Other offers – Air Force
QB Zach Mundell, 5-10, 170, Martin HS, Arlington, Texas: Other offers – Navy, Air Force
RB Emmanuel Nda, 5-9, 172, Pittsfield (Mass.) HS
FB Lincoln Parker, 5-11, 220, Marist School, Atlanta, Ga.
LB LucRichard Rameau, 6-2, 230, Episcopal HS, Alexandria, Va.: First offer – Army
FB Hayden Reed, 6-2, 210, Plant HS, Tampa, Fla.: Other offers – Illinois, Colorado State
LB Demarcious Robinson, Warner Robins (Ga.) HS
DL Charlie Rolenc, 6-1, 263, Bishop Moore HS, Orlando, Fla.: Other offers – Navy
LB Ahmad Ross, 6-2, 223, St. Joseph’s Academy, Hammonton, N.J.: First offer – Navy. Second offer – Army.
QB Robbie Sanders, 5-10, 180, Lake Minneola HS, Clermont, Fla.
QB Nick Sawyer, Sparkman HS, Harvest, Ala.: First offer – Army. Accounted for 21 touchdowns (14 passing, 7 rushing) in 2019.
RB Casey Shorter, 5-11, 215, Taylor HS, Katy, Texas: Rushed for 1,339 yards and scored 18 touchdowns as junior.
OL Jacob Smith, 6-3, 300, Buford (Ga.) HS: Other offers – Maryland, Akron, East Carolina, South Alabama, Charlotte,
TE Gabriel Thompson, 6-4, 240, Wiregrass Ranch HS, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
S Tim Thurman, 6-foot, 187, Linden (Ala.) HS: Other offers – Navy.
LB Emaud Triplett, 5-11, 205, Owasso (Okla.) HS: Other offers – North Texas, Eastern Michigan
DL Jacob Tuioti, 6-2, 250, Long Beach (Calif) Poly HS: Other offers – Colorado State, Nevada, UNLV. Recorded 61 tackles, 22 for a loss and 10 sacks as junior.
CB Da’Veon Turner, 5-9, 170, Harper Woods (Mich.) HS: Other offers – Akron, Bowling Green
DB Leroy Watson, 5-10, 160, Central Catholic HS, Toledo, Ohio: Other offers – Arkansas State, Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan

Commitments by state: Georgia (8), Florida (5), Alabama (2), California (2), New Jersey (2), Oklahoma (2), Tennessee (2), Texas (2), Arizona (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Virginia (1)

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