Starters: Justin Trimble #5 (last year #33) So.
Back ups: Nate Combs #22 (last year #45) Jr.
Player to Watch: Matt Luetjen #4 (last year #18/#2 on JV) So.
At Rover sophomore Justin Trimble is the last of the Trimble family to play at West Point. His brother Joshua chose to attend Virginia Tech rather than become the fourth brother to play for Army. Justin is a terrific athlete. He was an excellent running back in high school, the best receiver at the prep school in 2009 before being converted to defense last year. Last year, as a freshman, Trimble (6-0, 200) looked good in spot duty at Rover. This spring the staff also played him at Mike but considering his athleticism and ability to cover, the rover position looks to be a better fit.
Junior Nate Combs had a great spring last year and initially won the bandit tackle spot. After Andrew Rodriguez suffered a career ending back injury Combs was moved to whip linebacker. Combs suffered a season ending knee injury on the first defensive series of 2010. Combs is still recuperating from knee surgery but was running this spring and is expected to be 100% this fall. Co-defensive coordinator Chris Smeland believes Combs can transition to Rover or Mike linebacker. If healthy, Combs is a very good player.
Sophomore Matt Luetjen had a excellent spring. Luetjen played both rover and Mike linebacker in practice. Luetjen was a direct admit who was originally recruited as a quarterback last year. He actually played quarterback for the JV team last year while playing special teams with the varsity squad. Matt has run a 4.48 yard dash and is a solid 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. Luetjen is a smart player on and off the field. He is the son of a high school football coach and has excellent instincts. He can drop and cover. He played defensive back in addition to quarterback in high school. This year's prep school graduates have a number of athletes who played the rover position and SAM safety at USMAPS who have the ability to be immediately in the mix here.
Starters: Zach Watts #40 Jr.
Back ups: Bill Prosko #47 Sr.
Player to Watch: Justin Schaaf #49 Sr.
Army lost its top two whip linebackers to injuries last year. Late in the season special teams ace junior Zac Watts emerged to be the best solution. Watts recorded 20 tackles and has the athleticism the position demands. This spring Watts secured his job as starter with a productive spring. Watts made the biggest play of his career in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl sacking SMU quarterback Kyle Padron and forcing a fumble that Josh McNary scooped up on a bounce before running 55 yards for a touchdown.
Bill Prosko and Justin Schaaf are senior "flex" players that can transition between whip linebacker and play bandit tackle with a hand on the ground. Prosko had the best performance of his career last year when he posted eight tackles against Notre Dame. For the season the senior Prosko made 16 tackles. Prosko is a solid tackler with average speed. This is the last chance for Justin Schaaf a 5-11, 219 pound senior who had a good spring practice last year. In 2010 he saw limited time and posted two tackles. Schaaf has once again had a solid spring and should see more time this fall.
Starter: Steve Erzinger #9 Sr.
Back ups: Kyler Martin #19 (last year #83) Jr.
Senior Steve Erzinger was elected captain for the 2011 season. It is well deserved recognition for one of the hardest workers on the team. Last season Erzinger had 76 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks and five passes battled down. Ezringer had an uneven 2010 season in which he overplayed his gap responsibility at times, drew some very costly penalties and was beaten in coverage for touchdowns. That said he is a good player and had a terrific spring. After two years at Rover the staff moved him at Mike linebacker but left the door open for a move back to rover.
Junior Kyler Martin (6-2, 200) was recruited as a wide receiver and has been tried at a number of positions. Martin has good speed and competed with the Army track team at the 2011 Patriot League championships this spring. He ran an 8.46 in the 60-meter high hurdles qualifying for the finals. Martin struggled at Mike linebacker as a freshman when the staff threw him in the deep end of the pool after Stephen Anderson suffered a season ending injury. Co-defensive coordinator Chris Smeland thinks his best position is at Mike linebacker. There are two incoming prep linebackers that will compete for position on the Mike depth chart this summer.