Army Spring Depth Chart Review: Whip DE

ArmySports.com continues its review of the Black Knights post spring depth chart. Today we'll look at the Whip defensive end position. The Black Knights will depend on players like Holt Zalneraitis, Kyle Maxwell and Derek Sanchez to provide stability at this position along with some possible additions from the prep school.

Whip
Starter: Holt Zalneraitis #46 Jr.
Back up: Kyle Maxwell #83 Jr.
Player to Watch: Derek Sanchez #64 So.

The strong side defensive end position been renamed by the staff the whip position. Holt Zalneraitis has been moved from defensive tackle to a more natural strong side defensive end position. It's a lot better fit for Holt. Last year he was essentially a defensive end being asked to play defensive tackle. He started seven games, played in 12 and made 25 tackles. At defensive tackle Zalneraitis struggled holding up against the run last season. He is a good athlete, runs well but at the 224 pounds weight that he played at last year he was too small to handle the extended minutes at defensive tackle. He should benefit from the move at defensive end. Remember, Holt was a direct admit so the playing time he received as a sophomore should pay dividends this fall. He was asked to play a year early and out of position last fall. Zalneraitis thrived in his new role during Armor-Infantry spring game producing four tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

After watching junior Kyle Maxwell excel during the JV games last year, I wondered if I was missing something. I wasn't sure why he was only playing on the JV team. After this spring practice it was obvious that the defensive coaches were giving Maxwell, a former direct admit, the opportunity to develop as a defensive end. Kyle Maxwell (6-5, 231) played football, basketball and track in high school. Maxwell recorded ten catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns at tight end as a senior. He played limited snaps on the defensive line in high school recording just one sack. He's a good athlete that the staff felt it could develop. Maxwell was a very good shot putter in high school and appeared at the Michigan track meet of champions for the best track performers in the state.

Last fall during his JV campaign Maxwell impressed me with his first step quickness and ability to get up the field. Kyle is tall and rangy with long arms. He showed some ability to react off blocks. He has improved his technique, has added weight but is still a work in progress at defensive end. In the spring game Maxwell led the Infantry team with five tackles including two tackles behind the line of scrimmage to earn the backup defensive end job.

The player to watch on the current roster is sophomore Derek Sanchez. Sanchez is from Nevada and stands 6-3 and weighs 206 pounds. Sanchez demonstrated sideline to sideline range in recording 112 tackles and two sacks his senior year in high school. Sanchez, like many Army recruits, was a productive track athlete. He runs very well and plays fast. Derek won't scare anyone getting off the bus right now but the direct admit from the 2011 recruiting class has the frame to add weight in the future. Sanchez has a great initial acceleration and made plenty of tackles in backfield on the JV team last year. The defensive ends at the United States Military Academy Prep School last year were very talented and could really play. I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both make a move onto the depth chart this summer as plebes.

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