Army Spring Depth Chart Review: Field CB

ArmySports.com continues its review of the Black Knights post spring depth chart. Today we'll look at the field cornerback position. Senior Josh Jackson returns for his third season as the Black Knight's starter. Younger players Marques Avery and Lamar Johnson-Harris hope to compete with him for playing time.

Field Cornerback
Starter: Josh Jackson #14 Sr.
Back up: Marques Avery #13 So.
Player to Watch: Lamar Johnson-Harris #16 So.
Josh Jackson (6-0, 182) will enter his third season as the Black Knights' starting cornerback. Josh was the defensive star (6 tackles) for the victorious Armor team in the spring game at Fort Benning. He made back-to-back tackles at the goal line stopping the Infantry team late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. Jackson, a senior, is currently the best cornerback on the team and possesses good speed. He's far from a shutdown cornerback because he's a long strider and lacks the ideal hips and footwork of a top cornerback. Jackson will struggle at times like he did last season against top receivers from San Diego State, Vanderbilt and Rutgers. However, Josh never backs down and plays with great confidence. He has improved his tackling and is a willing hitter. He finished the year with 40 tackles, five passes defensed and an interception he returned 36 yards against Tulane.

I discussed in last year's "Incoming" feature on the plebe defensive backs that Marques Avery (6-1, 186) had the talent to be an ideal field cornerback in this defensive scheme. That opinion started to be treated with skepticism reserved for people who claimed to have seen Sasquatch since Avery has played only one full game the last two years. Marques had a great game in the United States Military Academy Prep School opener in 2010 against Hudson Valley CC when he made three tackles and made an amazing leaping over the shoulder interception. After the interception he demonstrated his speed with a nice long cross field interception return. He injured his shoulder the following game and missed the rest of his prep season. Last season as a plebe he tweaked his hamstring during Beast Barracks. Shortly after he started playing during summer camp he injured his other shoulder and missed his plebe year.

Avery has size and speed you normally don't see in an Army cornerback. In high school Avery was one of the faster football players on the West Coast as a senior in 2009 running a 10.7 100 meters and finishing fourth in the state in the 100 meters. He is fluid, agile and very fast. Avery can plant and drive on the ball. Marques has the potential man-on-man cover skills that the Army staff wants in a field cornerback. He has excellent hip turn, quick feet and instant acceleration. The injuries have hindered his development because the soon to be sophomore only started playing cornerback at USMAPS. Since then has played only one and a half games the last two years. Hopefully his rather thin frame can hold up. If healthy, Avery might prove to be the answer at boundary cornerback opposite Jackson.

Sophomore cornerback Lamar Johnson-Harris (5-9, 173) struggled at times while replacing Waverly Washington as a starter in week two last fall. Johnson-Harris is a small, undersized cornerback with average feet who lacks deep recovery speed. Lamar struggled in man coverage as a plebe. He was a solid tackler at USMAPS in 2010 but at the FBS level he missed tackles and took poor angles on a number of occasions. The staff had to throw Johnson-Harris in the deep end of the pool before he was ready to play at this level last fall. Army's defensive coordinators changed the coverage scheme to help him by using cover four and rolling coverages to his side. The move to field cornerback is probably a better fit for him. He's a little undersized for the run support duties they ask of the boundary cornerback. Last year Lamar was removed from the starting lineup against the service academy teams that ran option offenses. This spring he had a hamstring issue which caused him to drop on the depth chart. Johnson-Harris has the ability to get back in the mix. Players who see extensive time as freshmen usually benefit from the experience as they mature. Despite his struggles, Johnson-Harris didn't allow a touchdown reception in his last four starts last season.

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