Army Recruiting 2011: The Defense & ST

After completing their most successful Army football season since 1996, Rich Ellerson hit the recruiting trail looking to rebuild the depth of his defense. It isn't just that he has to replace six starters, the fact is the Black Knights have to replace key impact players like Captain Stephen Anderson, defensive end Josh McNary, nose tackle Mike Gann and safety Donovan Travis.

These players were the core of a defensive unit that Ellerson used to implement his double eagle flex defense at Army the last two seasons. will look at defensive players that have committed.

With the graduation of three starters on the defensive line and the attrition rate of the prep school's best defensive line prospect in 2009 the staff needed to add talent up front. Tyrone Brown is an under the radar defensive tackle prospect who committed recently that has the talent to fill the void upfront down the road. Brown is 6-2, 295 pounds and chose Army despite being offered as a preferred walk-on at Florida. Brown has the strength and athleticism to be an impact player and will attend the prep school this fall.

Tala Atimalala from Nevada is a six-foot, 270 pound defense tackle who committed in October Atimalala is physical, quick and plays with leverage and strength at the point of attack. Tala had five sacks the past two years. Another lineman is Will Butler who is a 6-3, 255 pound defensive tackle from North Carolina. Butler was named his high school's conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Justin Gilbert, a 6-5, 275 pound recruit from Pennsylvania recently committed. Gilbert earned first team All-County honors playing both sides of the ball. All four of the interior linemen are expected to attend the prep school this year.

Ryan Gibeley, a 6-2, 240, defensive lineman from Massachusetts who played both ways has signed. Gibeley missed his senior year after he broke his leg in practice.

At defensive end three star Ryan Alexander was an extremely productive but surprisingly under recruited talent. Alexander is a 6-2, 232 pound end with 4.8 speed from Canadian, Texas. Alexander is an incredibly productive rusher who recorded 35 sacks in his high school varsity career.

Army landed James Kelly when the Colorado native chose the Black Knights over an offer from his home state team Air Force. Kelly was a 6-3, 220 four year starter at outside linebacker for Mountain Range high school. Kelly, who was named All-State both his junior and senior years and projects to quick end in Army's flex. He should be a direct admit.

Dalton Mendenhall is another West Coast recruit secured by the staff. Mendenhall is a Washington State native and stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 226 pounds. Mendenhall is an explosive edge rusher with 4.69 speed who posted 15 sacks this year at Rogers high school.

Jalen Rosales is a 6-3, 235 pound defensive end who chose Army over offers from Hawaii, Fresno State, Idaho, Nevada, San Diego State and San Jose State. Rosales is a terrific athlete who played both sides of the ball last year and is expected to attend the prep school this year. Give credit to offensive coordinator Ian Shields for securing his commitment.

Gavi Maher (6-3, 220) from Rockland county New York is the nephew of Martin Maher who was the subject of the movie "The Long Gray Line".

Jonas Niusulu (6-1, 230) is a defensive end from California who committed. Niusulu was recruited by Payam Saadat. These six defensive ends look to be potentially a terrific recruiting haul at the key quick end position in the double eagle flex defense

Army lost out on new recruit Joshua Trimble whose three brothers attended West Point but they did land linebacker Jake Peterson. Peterson (6-2,225) is the brother of graduating senior Zac.

Dan Muenzer played both outside linebacker and wide receiver at Elgin high school in Illinois. Muenzer runs a 4.5 forty-yard dash and will play linebacker in the flex scheme. Muenzer was recruited by Joe Ross, who's done an excellent job on the recruiting trail. Muenzer will play at the prep school this year.

Derek Sanchez looks to be a tremendous pickup by the staff. Sanchez is from Nevada and stands 6-3 and weighs 215 pounds. Sanchez demonstrated sideline-to-sideline range in recording 112 tackles and two sacks his senior year.

Direct admit Brent Stout is a 6-2, 217 pound outside linebacker from Wisconsin whose father once taught at West Point.

Matt Giachinta from Paramus Catholic in New Jersey is a 6-1 210 pound athlete who projects to rover, linebacker or possibly even slotback.

At defensive back Chris Carnegie played cornerback his senior year at St. Mary's in California. Carnegie has good speed with a personal best 11.0 in the 100-meter dash.

Addison Holstein from Florida looks to be an exciting addition at safety. Holstein has good size (6-2, 185) strength (can bench press 325 pounds) and speed. The hard hitting Holstein chose Army over an offer from Stanford.

Alex Meier is a very physical safety from Anoka, Minn., with good range. Meier played only two games his senior year after a dispute with his high school coaching staff. Meier was recruited by Joe Ross and after discussion with the Anoka coaching staff he passed a character evaluation. Meier is a direct admit and will be looked at the SAM safety and rover positions.

Maryland recruit Matt Semelsberger is another safety with size at 6-2, 200 and good range. Semelsberger was ranked as the 13th best high school defensive back in Maryland. Semelsberger chose West Point over an offer from Navy. He will attend the prep school this year and has the frame to eventually project to linebacker or rover.

Shaquille Tolbert was a quality pickup at cornerback. Tolbert has good size (5-10, 180) and speed at cornerback. Tolbert is from Alabama and chose Army over offers from Air Force, Middle Tennessee State and Tulane.

Duran Workman, from West Virginia, is a strong safety with good size, instincts and speed. The hard hitting Workman will play at the prep school this season.

Kendal Fredrick is a 6-foot, 180 pound safety from Indiana who has surprising speed. Fredrick and has run a 10.73 100 yard dash.

Cortland Fort is a 5-10, 170 pound cornerback from California. Fort has excellent speed and has been timed at 4.44 in the fort- yard dash. Fort impressed at the 2010 Nike SPARQ combine when he made the All-Combine team and was the second ranked cornerback. He chose Army over Air Force. These are the head-to-head battles that Army is starting to win.

Some other players are listed as athletes like Dylan Anderson (5-11, 170) who is from Bloomington, Indiana. Anderson played wide receiver, defensive backs and ran track in high school.

Collin Downs is a coach's son who was the starting quarterback and a defensive back for his Camden Hills high school team in Maine.

On special teams Army recovered nicely from losing outstanding USMAPS kicker Tyler Strickland.

Strickland, who has a huge leg and nailed a 53-yard field goal against the Naval Academy Prep school in 2010, but decided the Army life wasn't for him. The staff rebounded when Coach Clarence Holmes secured the commitment of Florida kicker Daniel Grochowski. Grochowski chose Army over the chance to walk-on at Florida. Grochowski hit 8-of-10 field goal attempts last year, averaged 42.7 per punt and consistently hit almost all his kickoffs for touchbacks. Grochowski will be a direct admit and figures to take over at least kickoff duties his freshman year from the graduating Matt Campbell. Grochowski, who is built like a linebacker at 6-2, 210 pounds, hit a 57-yard field goal his senior season.

Continue to follow for recruiting features and spring practice coverage. Look for our complete 2011 plebe articles after R-day when we discuss and evaluate the direct admits and the 2010 prep school graduates in detail by position after they officially join the Black Knights. Top Stories