Oct. 5, 2011
By Tracy Nelson, Army Athletic Communications
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football family prides itself on the fruition of brotherhood. It's a bond that goes beyond the yard lines, play calls and egos. For six players on this year's roster, that brotherhood is innate and something that began long before West Point entered the picture.
Two were born a year apart, two a minute apart and the other two at the exact same time. For these three sets of brothers, playing Army football has simply been another chapter of a brotherhood that dates back to birth.
Meet the Mackeys
Armann Julius "A.J." Mackey entered the world on Sept. 19, 1989, and was the first born for proud parents Wendell and Myrna Mackey. Eleven months later, baby boy number two was born, Jarrett Vincent Mackey, on Aug. 11, 1990. Their story unfolds on the football field of Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga., continued to the USMA Prep School in Fort Monmouth, N.J., and now in the friendly confines of Michie Stadium.
The Mackeys helped Brookwood win two Region 8 AAAAA titles under head coach Mark Crews. That success drew the attention of Army's football staff and before long, a two-for-one deal was on the table.
"It was a brother thing in the recruiting process," A.J. said. "We both wanted to go D-I for school and they (Army) were going to let us come here and play together. They pitched it to our parents saying they wouldn't have to choose weekends to see one of us play and not the other. I guess it worked and Army became the place for us."
A.J. and Jarrett, both boasting brooding frames that seem to stick out a bit in the Black Knights' smaller lineup built on speed and agility, have made the Mackey name known since arriving on the banks of the Hudson in 2009. Both Mackey boys lined up in Army's first postseason win since 1985 when the Black Knights edged SMU, 16-14, on Dec. 31 in the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl.
In 2011, the younger Mackey was sidelined with a knee injury in the season opener at Northern Illinois and has yet to return. A.J. has emerged as a vital part of the Black Knights' defensive front in all four games, totaling 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
"As close as the Army brotherhood is," A.J. said. "I have a deeper relationship with my blood brother. He knows me like nobody else and it goes the other way. He can pick me up and calm me down when I need it."
Meet The Watts
Born on the exact same time on March 12, 1989, Corey and Zach Watts stand 5-11 and are listed 13 pounds apart. That might be the only physical difference between these identical twins.
Both play linebacker and came to West Point out of North Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. Both attended USMAPS, but did so in different seasons. Zach was the first to commit to West Point out of high school, while twin brother Corey elected to play at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. After a season with the Leopards, Corey decided the Academy and playing alongside his brother were his destiny.
"He (Zach) is pretty much the main reason I decided to come here," Corey said.
The pair has lined up together since tackle fotball started in fifth grade and played apart just twice - the 2008 season when Corey was at Lafayette and their freshman year at North Allegheny when Corey played on the varsity roster. Other than that, it's been more 15 years of the Watts brothers wreaking havoc on the gridiron and doing so in tandem.
"It's awesome, just like high school again," Zach said. "I think my parents (Gregory and Nancy) probably get more of a thrill out of it than we do. But at the same time, it's always cool to look over and actually see blood going hard and fighting right there with you."
Corey and Zach have been staples in Army's linebacking corps in all four games this fall. They have combined for 19 tackles, two sacks and a total of 39 yards of loss.
"He and I are working on understanding the fact that we're teammates again and need to have patience with each other," Corey said.
If playing with more patience coincides with padding those already impressive statistics, Army football fans will be hearing a lot about the Watts brothers in the weeks ahead.
Meet The Crocketts
While the Watts differ ever-so-slightly in a physical nature, the same cannot be said for the Crockett brothers. While their parents, Raymond and Donna, can likely tell them apart, many cannot. Jordan is quick to mention he is the elder of the two - by one minute.
Jordan and his "younger" brother Julian were born on Dec. 13, 1990, in San Francisco, Calif. The family settled in Wesley Chapel, Fla., and the Crockett brothers went on to serve as team captains on Berkeley Prep's high school football team. Although nowadays they lineup on opposite sides of the ball - Jordan a defensive back and Julian a slot back - it wasn't always that way.
"The best play we ever had together was in summer camp one year," Julian recalled. "Jordan caught a ball, I came around and he just knew I was going to be there. Without even looking, he just passed the ball back. I caught it and scored a touchdown. It was like we were on another level and had that 'twin thing' going on as they say."
Jordan and Julian played football, soccer, basketball and ran track together, but football and West Point won out in terms of their future. Julian made his collegiate debut last season against VMI when he returned a kick for 12 yards. Jordan has yet to play in a varsity contest. Based on aforementioned reports, perhaps Army should take advantage of that "twin thing" sometime soon.
Family Ties Aplenty
In addition to the Mackeys, Watts and Crocketts, there are two players on this season's roster whose older brothres have played at West Point. Sophomore Justin Trimble is the third brother to play for the Black Knights. His oldest brother, Jeremy, graduated in 2008 as Army's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. Older brother Jordan graduated last spring and was a fixture in the Army secondary, earning Academic All-America accolades in 2010. Freshman Mike Ugenyi is the younger brother of Victor Ugenyi, a 2010 graduate who started three years along Army's defensive front.