Starter: Malcolm Brown #23 Jr.
Back ups: Brian Cobbs #32 Jr.
Player to Watch: Brian Austin #15 Jr.
Before the 2010 season Rich Ellerson declared that "Malcolm Brown is one of our best football players." Brown proved it last season. He had an impressive year as the Black Knight's "C "back in the new Wing T offensive look unveiled in 2010. Brown averaged 5.5 yards a carry and scored four rushing touchdowns last year. Army missed Brown's quickness when he was out for three games after injuring his collarbone. Brown demonstrated his all round play making ability against Navy when he caught two touchdown passes.
Brian Cobbs returns as backup "C" back to Brown. Cobbs spent this spring competing with the Army track team. Last season Cobbs used his speed to rush for 302 yards, five touchdowns and a team high six yards a carry.
The player to watch is junior Brian Austin. Austin saw limited playing time last year but started the Black & Gold game. Austin is a converted wide receiver with excellent speed and good hands. Austin set his high school's record, 10.78, in the 100 meter dash and finished third in the Pennsylvania state 100-meter final his senior year. Brian has the ability to turn the corner and looked more comfortable this spring at "C" back.
Player to Watch: Jared McFarlin #88 So.
Junior Justin Allen really stepped up his game this spring practice at both getting open and in blocking.
Allen made a number of nice catches and seems to have finally found a home at wide receiver after being previously tried at both cornerback and slotback. Allen brings some speed to the wide receiver position that this team was missing last year. Allen was the best wide receiver this spring.
Wide receiver Davyd Brooks should keep his starting spot opposite Allen. Brooks led the Black Knights with 15 receptions but was at times was inconsistent and had too many dropped passes. He can play better.
Austin Barr led Army with three touchdown receptions as a starter last year. Barr missed spring practice with an injury. Barr is a 6-4 senior who has the size and blocking ability that offensive coordinator Ian Shields likes in his receivers. Barr wasn't as effective in the second half of last season when the Black Knights faced better teams with faster cornerbacks.
Sophomore Anthony Stephens saw much of the playing time this spring in place of Barr. Stephens is 6-2, 190 pounds and is a smooth route runner with sure hands. Allen bypassed Stephens late in camp because he is a much better and more physical run blocker. I still personally believe Stephens is the most talented pass catcher on the roster but this is an option offense. If he can't block effectively Stephens cannot start and it will limit his playing time.
All receivers except Brooks and Barr are underclassmen. Sophomore Jared McFarlin might have the most upside. Rich Ellerson mentioned after the Black & Gold game that McFarlin had a "solid spring". I personally thought McFarlin was inconsistent. Jared dropped a pass in the Black & Gold spring game. That said, McFarlin has talent and stands 6-foot-5 and possesses good speed. McFarlin was named MVP as a high school senior in the 2010 Upstate/Downstate New York post season All-Star game. I agree with Sal Interdonato of the Times Herald-Record who in his blog post favorably compared McFarlin in size and athleticism to former Army star wide receiver Aaron Alexander. McFarlin needs to improve his lower body strength. If McFarlin can put it all together he can emerge as an impact player.