Army Fullback JaKobi Buchanan's Roots with Chaminade Lacrosse


JaKobi Buchanan starred in lacrosse at Chaminade (Missouri) before making the move to Army football.

The hole evaporated before JaKobi Buchanan hit it. It didn’t matter. 

Midway through the fourth quarter against Louisiana-Monroe back in September, the sophomore Army fullback who’s earned the nickname “Human Wrecking Ball” barreled through the line of scrimmage, then found an open lane. He evaded two more tacklers on his way to the endzone at Michie Stadium to stretch the Black Knights’ lead to 29 points. The 40-yard touchdown was Buchanan’s longest run to date and capped a career day of 106 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

Jason Seidel witnessed that blend of toughness and athleticism long before Buchanan led Army in rushing attempts (87), yards (383) and touchdowns (5) this fall after appearing in only three games his plebe year. While the lacrosse world will likely have a rooting interest this Saturday with Navy true freshman quarterback Xavier Arline announced as the starter for the 121st Army-Navy game, Buchanan also has ties to the sport from his days at Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis (Mo.). 

The Catholic all-boys prep school whose Latin motto Esto Vir means “Be A Man” boasts a who’s who of athletic alums from Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics to Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal to NHL all-stars Matthew and Brady Tkachuk. 

Some of the performances Buchanan made for the Red Devils, though, were just as impressive.

“He is just a specimen,” Seidel said. “He runs like a fast guy, but is built like a tackle.”

Because of those dimensions (Buchanan was 6’0” 235 pounds at Chaminade and is now listed at 260) he was first type-cast as a defenseman in lacrosse, which he began playing his freshman year to stay in shape for football. But when Seidel returned to coaching the varsity team in 2016, Buchanan had a request.

“Coach I want to play offense,” he told Seidel. “They just make me play defense because I’m big. I want to go to the goal and score.” 

Seidel believes that passion is important. He thinks kids should have a chance to play where they want to. He told Buchanan he could be whatever he wanted to be. Although the 2017 Chaminade lacrosse media guide listed Buchanan’s position as “Athlete,” he turned into a force at the midfield, scoring 10 goals his junior year on the Red Devils’ run to the state championship.

Seidel estimated Buchanan broke upwards of eight opponents’ lacrosse sticks from running through cross-checks.

“To be honest, I don’t really remember anybody trying to stick with me head-up,” Buchanan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this week. “They usually just tried to use the stick skills and take the ball from me that way. But I don’t think anybody’s ever ‘manned’ me — man-to-manned me up in lacrosse.”

While Seidel was sure of Buchanan’s potential, Phillip “Flip” Naumberg was even more bullish on his prospects. Naumberg founded the Vail Lacrosse Shootout, invented the Rock-It-Pocket and led the Colorado State men’s club program, where Seidel played, to four national championships in 14 seasons. He visited St. Louis for a month each spring and helped Seidel coach the Red Devils. 

Seidel said that Naumberg believed he could make Buchanan the best lacrosse player of all time. Buchanan, who rushed for 1,656 yards and 27 touchdowns in four seasons at Chaminade, possessed a strength and agility that reminded him of another crossover athlete. 

Jim Brown. 

"I've seen them all," Naumberg told Seidel. "I've seen Tim Goettelman. I've seen Gary [Gait]. But that guy [Buchanan] can dodge from X like nobody's business. We've just got to get him handles." 

Naumberg died of a heart attack in May of 2018. He was 66. A couple weeks later Chaminade lost in the state quarterfinals. It was Buchanan’s last lacrosse game. 

Afterwards Buchanan apologized to the rest of the team. He felt as though he could have done more to help lift them to the title.

“He left a lasting impression that you didn't do enough unless you win the state championship,” Seidel said. 

During practices in the years since, Seidel will hear one of his players invoke the impassioned speech. “Remember what Kobi said,” they’ll say. The team’s intensity immediately ratchets up. 

“He couldn't devote 270 a days a year [to lacrosse], but he gave us his heart for 90 days and you knew he wished he gave a couple more,” said Seidel, who grew up in Nyack, N.Y., ten miles south of West Point. “That's how the military academy kids are.”

On a Saturday in late September, Seidel took a break from prepping food at Prasino, a farm-to-table restaurant in St. Charles (Mo.) where he works as a chef, to refill his soda. Sure enough, on a TV nearby, he saw Buchanan in the backfield against Cincinnati. 

Seidel ran back into the kitchen. 

“Put on the game!” he texted his dad and a couple friends. While they’ll be tuned in this weekend and hope to see Army sing the alma mater second, Seidel still holds out hope that even if Buchanan moves up NFL draft boards, he’ll get another chance to shine on the lacrosse field.

He even emailed some highlight clips of Buchanan to Joe Alberici. 

“I wanted to let him know that when he is done [playing] football he is just as good as everybody else at lacrosse,” Seidel said. “I would love to see something like that happen.”

Most Recent

USA Lacrosse High School Girls' Players of the Week

The USA Lacrosse Players of the Week honors the top performers from each region.

USA Lacrosse High School Boys' Players of the Week

The USA Lacrosse Players of the Week honors the top performers from each region.

Nike/USA Lacrosse High School Girls' Regional Top 10 Rankings

Loyola Academy (Ill.) and Jesuit (Ore.) prevailed in marquee games.

Nike/USA Lacrosse High School Boys' Regional Top 10 Rankings

Mountain Vista (Colo.) and Torrey Pines (Calif.) avenged regular season losses in the West.

Twitter Posts