Beast Barracks Notes and More

"Beast Barracks" is the nickname for West Point's six week new cadet basic training program designed to transition new recruits into military life. As always the basic training is demanding, stressful and challenging. With football practice about to begin, ArmySports.com will update some roster moves that have been made.

One of the biggest concerns for Army football entering this fall is the lack of depth on the defensive line. The situation didn't improve when Black Knights fans heard the news that two of last season's backups that were expected to play this fall are no longer with the program. It was made official that Chris Swain was separated from the academy. Swain played bandit tackle as a junior when he started against Temple last year. He did a solid job replacing an injured Victor Ugenyi at tackle for two games in 2009. Swain missed almost all of spring practice with an injury. He was one of the few defensive linemen that could offer any size at the point of attack. Defensive quick end Quentin Kantaris chose to transfer to a junior college near his home after his freshman year. Kantaris earned the backup spot at quick end behind Josh McNary last season as a direct admit and saw playing time. Kantaris had the ability to rush the passer and was expected to contribute this season. These are huge losses to the thinnest positions on the team.

Every season Beast Barracks tests and challenges the resolve of some players to determine if the military life is for them. One player who decided to leave during Beast Barracks is Tom Hickel who starred at left tackle last year at USMAPS. Hickel was one of Army's better known recruits having played at a prestigious high school football program, De La Salle, in Concord, California. His senior year as he was named first team All-East Bay. Scout.com's All-Golden State forum named Hickel first team All-State his senior year. Hickel was heavily recruited and played last season at USMAPS. He surprisingly decided to leave during Beast. Another prep school offensive line graduate Austin Gorge also left. Gorge was the main backup at USMAPS last season.

Jacob Owens who played bandit tackle last year at the United States Military Academy Prep school literally received a bad break. He broke his ankle early during Beast and will not be able to attend West Point this season. Owens was a high school quarterback in a spread offense at Madison County high school in Georgia. The 6-4, 225 pound Owens completed 63-of-138 passes his senior for 855 yards and six touchdowns. Owens also rushed 174 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns. Owens attracted interest from a variety of teams looking at him as a quarterback, linebacker, H-Back and defensive lineman. Owens chose Army over offers from Air Force and VMI. Owens is a strong player who worked hard in the weight room at USMAPS. Hopefully he can heal and be admitted next season.

Other players who practiced this spring are no longer on the football roster for various reasons. Senior fullback CeDarius Williams is still at West Point but will not play this fall. A number of other players who weren't that high on the depth chart are no longer on the roster. Sophomore kicker Billy Fisher who struggled in practice last year has left. A trio of sophomore offensive linemen including Shane Jones, Colin Joy and Justin Godes no longer are part of the football team. On the defensive side cornerback Tyki Nelworth, defensive linemen Mike Sikorski and Quetzalcoatl Carrasco and linebackers Colby Miller, Ryan McCollum, Marcus McInnery and Casey Brewer are all gone.

These moves mean virtually the entire 2009 USMAPS linebacker class with the exception of Corey Watts, who won the defensive end spot this spring, is no longer with the team. Among those who left Marcus McInnery, a good athlete who was tried at slotback this spring and played rover last season, and Colby Miller, an aggressive undersized linebacker, were the only ones that stood out at times on the practice field in my opinion.

On the positive front Army linebackers received a boost with the news that two senior linebackers not expected to play will be with the team this fall. Before last season, 2009 starting whip linebacker Andrew Rodriguez injured his back and never played a down. It was a real loss because Rodriguez was the Black Knights leading tackler and one of its best players on defense in 2009. As the whip linebacker he called the defensive signals and was never out of position. After missing the entire season and spring practice his football career was assumed to be over. It was a surprise when it was announced Rodriguez will rejoin the team when summer practice opens in August. Rich Ellerson told Sal Interdonato of the Times Herald Record "We are going to find out," Ellerson said. "Right now, he's working really closely with our trainers to ease himself back into the full mix of activities. We'll inch our way toward the practice field and the game. Right now, he looks very good." If Rodriguez can play at his former level that would be a huge boost to a defense in search of playmakers and leadership.

Another linebacker thought to have play his last down was Kingsley Ehie. Ehie was the backup behind Stephen Anderson at Mike linebacker last year and was an excellent special teams performer. Ehie was a senior last year but he still needs to complete additional courses to graduate. Since he is now a December graduate, and has eligibility remaining, he will play this fall. Kingsley was recruited as a running back and played fullback during Rich Ellerson's initial season at West Point. Last year he was converted to Mike Linebacker. In his appearances on defense last year he missed a few assignments and it was obvious he was still learning his new role. Ehie is one of the best athletes on the team. He has the physical tools you want in a linebacker. He demonstrated good range and hitting ability. If the light goes on and he reads and reacts better in his second season at Mike linebacker he could possibly upgrade the position. It could allow the staff to move Steve Ezringer back to rover if they believe that will strengthen the defense by starting three seniors.

The Army staff landed their first commitment for 2012 when safety/linebacker recruit Sean McBryde chose West Point over offers from Rice and Air Force. McBryde is a 6-4, 210-pound safety who earned All-District First team honors last season. He has run a 4.58 for the 40 yard dash. The son of a coach, Sean has a good understanding of the game and is considered a physical player. He is expected to attend the United States Military Academy Prep school next season.

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