Starter: A.J. Mackey #92 Jr.
Player to Watch: Bobby Kough #99 So.
Junior A.J. Mackey is expected to be the nose tackle. He missed valuable repetitions this spring after he had off-season surgery on his hand which held him out of all practice sessions. Mackey is the brother of quick end Jarrett and needs to play well if the Black Knights defense are to hold up against the run. Mackey did a nice job in extended playing time against Air Force last season. A.J. has worked hard in the weight room. Currently he weighs in as the biggest player on the front line at 266 pounds.
The staff switched junior Tom Houser from offensive tackle to defense this spring. Houser is 6-3, 240 pounds and adds depth to the thinnest position on the team. Houser saw most of the repetitions this spring and did a solid job. Parker Whitten has been the Army long snapper but with Mackey out he worked his way onto the positional depth chart. Whitten, a junior, was selected first team all-state his senior year in high school in Alabama when he recorded five sacks.
Bobby Kough is a player who can contribute. Kough has experienced an extremely difficult plebe year. Kough suffered from the effects of Beast Barracks and was sick early in the year. Kough (6-3, 240) played defensive end at the prep school in 2009 but was moved inside on JV team. He missed most of spring practice with an injury. He is strong and has the frame to add weight while still being able to move.
Starters: Corey Watts #56 So.
Back ups: Clayton Keller #44 So.
Player to Watch: Shane Finnane #64 So.
Corey Watts is the brother of Army whip linebacker Zac Watts and had a great spring. Watts (5-11, 220) is an intense, aggressive flex lineman who plays like his hair is on fire. He is a physical player who attacks ball carriers. Corey is a very active, hustling "flex" lineman who won the job this spring.
Clayton Keller was one of the most improved players during spring practice. After switching to Josh McNary's #44 jersey he started to play like a poor man's Josh. Keller played on the JV team last year and was impressive firing off the snap during defensive end during drills. Keller played both linebacker and quick end at USMAPS in 2009. He stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds. Clayton hails from Salisbury, Conn., and is a big effort player who goes all out, can pursue and is physical.
If you're looking for a player to watch down the road sophomores Victor Ripley (#91, 6-4, 230), who missed his plebe year with a shoulder injury, and Kyle Maxwell (#83, 6-5, 220), a good athlete who is trying to learn how to play defensive end, might be candidates. While those two players look good getting off the bus, I'll take the on field production of the short walk-on sophomore Shane Finnane. Finnane is an active player who is simply a football player. Finnane recorded 100 tackles during his senior year in high school playing defensive line. Finnane knows how to play the position, plays with leverage but even by current Army standards he's undersized at 6-0, 235 for a lineman.