North Hills football players to continue careers at military academies

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Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 8:00 PM


When it came time for North Hills’ student-athletes Lirion Murtezi and Tyler Brennan to select the schools and football programs they will dedicate their college futures toward, the Indians’ seniors both decided on paths that are less traveled by typical 18 year olds.

Next fall, Murtezi and Brennan will become the first North Hills students to attend military academies since 2013, according to the North Hills School District. Murtezi, an offensive and defensive lineman, will attend the U.S. Naval Academy while Brennan, a running back and safety, will enroll in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

For Murtezi, the decision was simple. According to the all-state guard, he had always been able to picture a future as a member of the military. And the opportunity to play football for Navy only sweetened the deal.

“I believe the first time I talked to the coaching staff at Navy was during my junior year,” Murtezi said.

“Then, I went for an unofficial visit in the middle of my junior year. Tyler was actually on the visit with me. I loved it there right away. The opportunities that come with attending the Naval Academy are amazing. My senior year, I was talking back and forth with them a lot. Then, when they offered me, the decision was easy.”

Brennan, on the other hand, had the military roots in his family tree but hadn’t necessarily had his mind set from a young age on attending a military academy, he says. However, once the opportunity to play football for Army came along, North Hills’ team leader in touchdowns says he started to digest the idea. Then, it grew on him more and more.

“I grew up around my grandparents, who actually met in the Navy. So, I had my military grandparents around. Then, on my dad’s side, my dad’s dad was a second lieutenant in the Army and fought in the Korean War. I grew up around it and had interest in the military, but I never focused completely on attending,” Brennan said.

“Then, they offered me and I visited 2-3 times and fell in love with it. The Army coaching staff is so great, it’s one of the best in the nation. The other big reason I committed was that I wanted to be a part of something bigger then myself.”

With both of their individual futures mapped out, Murtezi and Brennan will be moving on to separate programs. However, both hope they will have four opportunities to meet on the gridiron once again, when the storied Army-Navy game rolls around each season.

“We’ve been best friends since elementary school, so it’s pretty funny that I’m going to Army and he committed to Navy. We both sit around and talk about it and how crazy it is,” Brennan said.

“It would be pretty cool to have a chance to play against each other, in different uniforms, especially in such a big event like that.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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