Chase Prasnicki (USMA)
The Army football family lost its third member this summer with the sad news that First Lieutenant Chase Prasnicki was killed in action. Prasnicki, who graduated from West Point in 2010, was on patrol in Afghanistan this past Wednesday when an improvised explosive device exploded under his vehicle.
Chase was fatally wounded and evacuated to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and passed away. Prasnicki had deployed to Afghanistan only a few days earlier from Germany where he was stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He wasn't supposed to be on patrol the day he died but had volunteered.
Chase Prasnicki grew up in Virginia. His father, David, worked for the Virginia Military Institute's alumni association. Prasnicki was an excellent student and was well liked. His idols growing up were Dan Marino and Barry Sanders and he was a big Detroit Lions fan. Like a lot of kids he enjoyed X-Box, playing sports and spending time with his dog Rocky. In high school Prasnicki was a star shot gun offense quarterback at Rockbridge County in Virginia. Prasnicki set single season school passing record with 2,222 yards, 148 completions and 297 passing attempts. He also set the school standard by throwing for 313 yards in a single game. His junior season he threw for 1,662 yards and 14 touchdowns. Chase's family attended the same church as then Army head football coach Bobby Ross.
It was Ross' son Kevin, Army's former offensive coordinator, who recruited Chase to West Point. Prasnicki firmly believed that joining the military was an honorable professional commitment to serving his country. Jason White, his head coach at Rockbridge, statedb “The two words that come to mind when I think of Chase is leadership and his work ethic. He wasn't going to be outworked by anybody; he was going to lead better than anybody. When he spoke in the huddle, no one else talked, and everybody listened."
Chase arrived at West Point in 2006 as a direct admit plebe. His first three years at West Point he was buried on the quarterback depth chart behind Carson Williams, David Peveto, Kevin Dunn and Chip Bowden. Prasnicki appeared in only one game his first three seasons. He ran the ball on one play for 17 yards in 2006 as a plebe. With the arrival of Rich Ellerson and the triple option offense in 2009, Prasnicki switched to defense that spring and won a spot on the depth chart as a back-up safety. Prasnicki lacked speed and quickness but he was a smart, big effort player. At 6-1, 212 he offered good size for an Army safety. His understanding of the game made the transition to defense a seamless one. Prasnicki made his presence known that spring and impressed with his hitting ability.
In the fall of 2009 Prasnicki played in five games, mostly on special teams, as he battled some injuries. His big moment during his Army career came when he replaced free safety Donovan Travis who left the North Texas game with an injury. Prasnicki finished the game with seven tackles and knocked down a pass in the Army win. ArmySports.com named him the Unsung Player of the Game for his performance. LINK. Chase ended the 2009 season with ten tackles and a pass defensed.
Army head coach Rich Ellerson told Sal Interdonato of the Times Herald Record, “It's tragic and devastating news. He was good player. He got everything out of himself. You knew you could count on him to be right. You knew you were going to get everything he had. He was always going to be well-prepared. He was a special guy.”
Many of Chase's former teammates who nicknamed him “Nitro” remembered Chase after hearing the sad news. Ali Villanueva said, “It is a very sad day for all Army football players. Praying for one of the most outstanding graduates of West Point and a tremendous leader in the U.S. Army. Rest in Peace soldier." Fellow former Army wide receiver Jeremy Trimble posted, “Proud to call you a brother and compete with you. Watch over us. R.I.P.” Former running back Tony Dace added, “Rest in Peace brother. You were and still are an inspiration to us all.”
Prasnicki is the third former Army football player to pass away tragically in the last few months. Ryan Morgan, a sophomore wide receiver, was killed in a fatal motorcycle accident in California. That news followed the car accident that took the life of former Army cornerback First Lt. Mario Hill. Prasnicki was the first football player from the United States Military Academy to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country since the current war on terror began.
Prasnicki, who was only 24-years-old, is survived by his father David, his mother Debbie, sister Lauren, brother Tyler, and his wife Emily. Chase had married the former Emily Nichols on November 26, 2011. At ArmySports.com, on behalf of our readers, we send our condolences to Chase's family, teammates, coaches, classmates and friends. We remember Chase for his brave service to protect our freedom and liberty. Be Thou at Peace.