Army’s “loss leader” - Josh McNary

By Jim Benton for

Fort Worth, Texas, December 29 - Josh McNary is described as a loss leader in Army's media notes.

And, that's an accurate way to picture the talents of the 235-pound senior defensive end.

 McNary, a Houston native who was not recruited to play football at West Point but walked on to the team, has been a standout with his pressure techniques in Army's double-eagle flex defensive scheme.

"My position demands success," McNary said. "It is suited for my abilities as a player. I'm able to do a lot of rushing which is my trait."

McNary, a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy that is presented to the collegiate player who began his career as a walk-on and has shown outstanding performance on the field, has broken the 31-year-old Black Knights' record with 48.5 career tackles for loss.  He leads the team with 12 this season.

He is also Army's career sack leader with 27.5 and is three sacks shy this year of his single season record of 12.5 sacks set in 2009.

McNary, who was moved from linebacker to defensive end during his sophomore campaign, will have a chance to add to his career statistics when Army (6-6) faces SMU (7-6) Thursday in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game that will be played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

"I'm pretty impressed with the way I've been able to play the last few years with all the stats that I have managed to accumulate," McNary said. "There is definitely a technique to playing the position but it's a fight pretty much every play. A lot of it is having persistence and relentlessness. Having that attitude in my toolbox is definitely beneficial to have at my position."

McNary will have a cheering section of 40 family and friends from Houston at the game to see if the Black Knights can contain an SMU offense that is averaging 414.7 yards of total offense and 273.8 passing yards per game.

"SMU has been real successful in their passing game and a lot of it has been with short passes," McNary said. "The best way to get any QB shaking, nervous and anxious in the pocket is to get pressure on him.

"By taking away their passing game through pressure is restricting their offense so they might not be so accustomed to running. I'd much rather see them run the ball than do something they specialize in which is passing."

Lofty goal - Six wins so far this season is the most posted by an Army team since 1996 and the Black Knights still have a game left to reach another of its goal.

"We set our goal to win a bowl game, not to get to a bowl game but to win a win a bowl game," senior offensive lineman Jason Johnson said. "There is a great camaraderie on the senior class, and the bowl game is just a culminating event for the senior class."

Johnson was commissioned early this month as a second lieutenant.

"I graduated on Dec. 17 with a degree in Management," Johnson explained. "I won't be going back to the Academy after the bowl game as I am going off to Ft. Benning, Ga.

"After six months there, I will be doing some Airborne School and Ranger School hopefully. After that I will be heading off to Ft. Bragg, N.C."

Jim Benton (, a sportswriter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver for 41 years, will be covering his fourth-straight Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.  He started as a high school beat writer four decades ago, Since then, he has covered a variety of sports including college football, basketball and hockey, professional hockey, football, baseball and basketball, tennis, golf, bowling, soccer, horse racing and NASCAR. Benton is a Denver native and a graduate of the University of Denver.