Shark teammates sign with military academies

Pirris, Henne set to face each other next four years

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Luke Pirris and Will Henne have been teammates for years, so it would be a little weird if they lined up against each other, but that will be the case while they play college football the next four years.

Pirris signed with the United States Naval Academy and Henne signed with the United States Air Force Academy during a celebration at Mr. Chubby’s Wings in Ponte Vedra Beach Dec. 15.

After being teammates for years, the two will now be facing each other the next four years as part of the annual three-way battle for bragging rights and the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy along with the United States Military Academy.

“It’s pretty crazy to think about, because Will has been one of my best friends since I was kid,” Pirris said. “When the clocks ticking it will be absolute war, but I’m sure afterward we’ll be able to laugh about it, just like when we were kids after games.”

Tommy Zitiello also played for the Sharks and is currently a freshman defensive back playing at Army.  

“We’ll have guys all over the place,” Henne said.

For Henne, Air Force was his “dream school” and had been ever since he lived in Hong Kong with his family growing up.

“We lived near the airport and I always to go there and watch the planes land and take off,” Henne said. “I got transfixed with planes and I’ve also always felt the need to serve my country, so the Air Force Academy was a perfect fit.”

Henne has spent time both flying actual planes and running through situations on the simulator.

“It’s a different experience when you’re actually up there compared to when I’m on the simulator at home,” Henne said. “It’s an adrenaline rush and a fun time for sure.”

Henne will be a punter for Air Force, which is a craft he took upon himself to work on and improve in recent years.

“My eight-grade team at Landrum (Middle School) needed a kicker, and I had played soccer before, so I started trying to kick,” Henne said. “It felt natural, so I started really working on my punting midway through freshman year, and it kind of grew from there.”

He competed in the National Invitational Scholarship Camp over the summer, which is considered a premier showcase for punters, kickers and long snappers, and charted well.

Pirris had committed to Navy prior to the start of his senior season, and he never wavered from that initial decision.

However, he did admit that he was some nerves and anxiousness when he woke up that morning, knowing that the day had finally come to put pen to paper and make it official.

“I always knew Navy was going to be the place ever since I visited there,” Pirris said. “I couldn’t have been more excited to write my signature down on that piece of paper. This is a once and a lifetime opportunity and a life changing experience.”

Pirris hopes to make his mark on the team from the start, whether that is having a role on defense or contributing on special teams.

“My goal is to get on the field,” Pirris said. “I know it’s going to be tough, but I wouldn’t have gone there if I knew it was going to be easy. I’m going there to better myself.”

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