Starter: Nate Combs #22 Sr.
Back up: Jacob Drozd #50 So.
Player to Watch: Corey Watts #56 Jr.
The defensive staff has changed some of the terminology in the Double Eagle Flex. The lineman/ linebacker hybrid position formally referred to as whip linebacker is now called the bandit. In 2010 the bandit tackle position was introduced with Nate Combs (6-1, 216) in mind. Combs role changed after whip linebacker Andrew Rodriguez suffered a season ending back injury. Combs, now a senior, was moved to whip linebacker. Combs suffered a season ending knee injury on the first defensive series of 2010. Last season Nate recovered and played in every game while making six starts. He finished the year with 37 tackles and tied for the team lead in sacks. He missed this spring practice again while recuperating from another surgery but is expected to be at 100 percent this fall.
Jacob Drozd played defensive tackle last year but has been moved to the flex bandit position. The "flex" players can play at either like a linebacker or at bandit tackle with their hand on the ground.
Drozd is probably the most talented athlete on the roster. In high school Drozd (6-3, 213) set the state record in the high jump at 6 feet, 9 inches, ran a 4.6 forty yard dash and won the Connecticut state's decathlon. In addition to football he currently competes for the Army track team. He's had a great spring practice and demonstrated his outstanding athletic ability when he sacked the mobile Angel Santiago twice during the spring game. Coach Saadat commented on Drozd.
"We're going to utilize his (Drozd) ability, his experience from having his hand down from last year, but also bring back some skill set he had at the prep school from playing on the edge at defensive line," said Saadat. "What we are going to try to put Jacob in a variety of different ways because he is a very athletic, explosive kid. He ran down one of our faster guys in the spring game. There are a lot of quarterbacks that are running quarterbacks now. It's nice to have more than one player that can eyeball him [the QB] and run him down. That's how we see Jacob. He can do a couple of different things from a few different positions."
The player to watch is junior Corey Watts who has been moved from defensive end to the new bandit position. Corey started the first four games at defensive end in 2011 and generated some pressure on the quarterback but didn't holding up well against the run and lost his job. Andrew Rodriguez replaced him at defensive end. In the Double Eagle Flex the strong side end has controls the C gap against the run and it wasn't happening with Watts starting. The move to the new Bandit position fits his skill set a lot better. Corey is the brother of Army defensive end Zach Watts. Watts (5-11, 220) is an intense, aggressive, very active player who can run. In the spring game Watts made four tackles and assisted on a sack.
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