West Ashley football player Brett Toth doesn't worry about first impressions. The 6-7, 270-pound senior offensive lineman admits he occasionally gets that "dumb jock" look from people when they first meet him.
"People do get surprised when they find out that I'm more than a football player," Toth said. "People expect that dumb jock, and then they talk to me."
Spend a few minutes with Toth and you will discover he is much more than a football player. He's the complete package when it comes to being a student-athlete, carrying a 4.5 GPA and scoring 1,300 on his SAT. He has received an appointment to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he will play football.
Toth was an outstanding football player at West Ashley, earning first-team honors on the All-Lowcountry team and being selected to play in the prestigious North-South all-star game.
But playing football was easy compared to gaining admittance to West Point, he said.
West Point is a challenging academic school with high standards, and its students must have excellent moral character. A candidate must receive a nomination and must pass the Department of Defense medical exam.
Toth won't sign a scholarship on Wednesday, which is National Signing Day. West Point doesn't give scholarships.
Students who receive appointments aren't charged tuition, room and board, or other typical college expenses. They receive a four-year education, and in exchange agree to serve five years in the U.S. Army after graduation.
It almost never happened. Toth never considered Army until his senior year in high school.
"It was just part of my maturation process," said Toth. "As the matriculation process went on, my dad (Douglas) was all for it. He was in the Navy after high school and he stressed that military life will make you a better person. This past weekend, we went up there to visit and he told me was praying every day that I would go to West Point."
After graduation, Toth will begin his military duty as a second lieutenant. He had to clarify another misconception that his friends and classmates have about the military commitment.
"There are 20 different branches of the Army," Toth said. "They offer a wide variety of opportunities such as aviation, engineering, infantry, transportation, intelligence and finance. Most of my friends think you go straight into infantry."
Toth's high school coach, Bobby Marion, said Toth's appointment is an outstanding achievement for all students at West Ashley.
"It gives the entire school something to be proud of," Marion said. "It's a prestigious honor to go there. And then there's football, the tradition of the Army-Navy game. I still think it's the greatest rivalry in sports. Hopefully, I can go to an Army-Navy game now."
Toth is ready for the challenge of playing college football. He said his speed, quickness and agility will help him, but he knows he must get stronger.
Army has a new football coach, Jeff Monken, who was very successful at Georgia Southern.
"He's straightforward," Toth said. "He has a plan to return the program to greatness. His goal is to not only beat Navy, but to go to a bowl game every year."