Last week, Sam Brennan (Brighton, 2018) announced his verbal commitment to NCAA Air Force Academy. A tremendous accomplishment for the 6-foot, 170-pound defenseman as he enters his senior season for the Bulldogs.
“Obviously that’s been my dream since I was younger to play D-I and maybe a chance to play in the NHL,” Brennan said. “I mean it’s pretty awesome, a dream come true.”
Settling on the Academy was an easy decision for Brennan. His uncle currently serves in the Air Force and has always been a proponent of it as a potential destination ever since Brennan was young. Having personally done research on the school and the strong influence of a family member, the foundation had already been laid before hockey ever became a factor.
Brennan scored three goals and 24 points during his first two seasons at Brighton before he garnered the attention of the Academy’s assistant coach Andy Berg.
The Falcons first took notice of Brennan last Fall, where he shined at TPH (Total Package Hockey) Top-80 tryouts. There, Berg connected with Brennan and invited the junior to visit campus in June, after the high school hockey season had concluded.
Brennan proved to be an integral part of Brighton’s 2016-17 campaign, as the Bulldogs claimed their fourth division-I state championship in program history with their cornerstone defensemen recording a point in each of the team’s final 10 games.
And after visiting the campus at Air Force just outside of Colorado Springs, Colo., Brennan made it official by verbally commitment to the Falcons last week.
“First of all, Air Force is a college that I’ve always been interested in going to since the beginning of high school,” he said. “My uncle is in the Air Force, and he had a good time there and he highly recommended the Academy. So I did some research and saw some things that I liked.”
Brennan’s decision makes him the fourth active MI-HS player in the last 12 months to commit to a Division-I school, joining last year’s senior Adam Pitters (Grosse Pointe South, 2017) and Brighton teammates Jake Crespi (2017) and Adam Conquest (2016).
A highly touted and decorated defenseman, Brennan had the option to opt out of his senior season and get a jump start on his hockey career by playing in the NAHL for the Lone Star Brahmas. However, he decided to remain at Brighton for his final year, a decision based on family and love of the game.
“Honestly, mostly because high school hockey is so much fun,” he said. “It was the greatest decision I ever made was to come play for the high school and its just so much fun. I can’t put into words.”
The high school experience is a unique one with a finite number of games that never seems to be enough and always ends too soon. Brennan’s decision to return for one final go-round is a true testament of a player looking to get the absolute most out of his experience. But with a state championship and NCAA commitment under his belt, what’s left to achieve in 2017-18?
“I want to win another state title and win a league championship,” Brennan said. “I know that’s the goal every year but I mean more so now as I’ve gotten older and played a larger role on the team.”