By Jim Benton for www.armedforcesbowl.com
West Point, N.Y., December 21, 2010 – Army junior defensive back Antuan Aaron grew up close to the SMU campus.
On December 30, Antuan and the Black Knights will make their first bowl appearance in 14 seasons when Army plays SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at the Mustangs’ Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
"It’s kind of weird," Aaron said. "SMU is like ten minutes away from my house. It’s going to be weird having my family in the stands and the coaches from my school will probably be in the stands. After we turned the program around, it would be cool to win a bowl game in front of them."
Aaron is one of 17 Army players who are from Texas so that makes having to play at bowl game at the home venue of the opposing team bearable.
"I’m surprised to hear that we’re actually the visiting team," Army coach Rich Ellerson joked. "We’re going to SMU to play SMU. C’mon now. I can tell you we’re going to friendly country. Texas is Academy friendly. Certainly the greater Dallas area, we have enough posts in that area, we have enough players on our team from that area and we have a significant percentage of the core cadets who hail from Texas.
"I don’t think it’s going to feel like an especially enemy territory. We have an awful lot of support there. We’re not going to feel like the home team, but we’re not going to feel like strangers either."
Army linebacker Steve Erzinger is from Houston and anxious to be playing in a bowl game close to home.
"It’s awesome," Erzinger said. "Any time I get to go back to Texas, I’ll take the opportunity. It’s huge for us to play in Dallas. I have a lot of good friends in Dallas.
"Actually one of my close buddies, Ryan Smith, plays for SMU as a safety. We played on the same high school team (Lamar). It’s going to be fun to play those guys and be home and have some family and friends come up because they don’t get to see me that often."