Meet the New Black Knights: WR

In our continuing series ArmySports.com is reviewing the 2012 incoming freshman class by position. Wide receiver is the one skill position that Rich Ellerson is still looking to develop a big play threat. Unfortunately, there aren't that many wide receiver recruits in this incoming class. All of this year's WRs from this past season's recruiting class will attend the prep school this fall.

Army head coach Rich Ellerson is very familiar with the best wide receiver on the United States Military Academy Prep team last fall. It was his son Andrew Ellerson. Andrew played his high school football locally at James I. O'Neill high school after his father took the Army head coaching job in 2009. He was a receiver and a long snapper. Ellerson was a top wide receiver for current Army sprint team backup quarterback Aaron Kilner during the 2009 season at James I. O'Neill.

Andrew Ellerson (6-6, 180) was on the receiving end of almost all of the big passing plays last year for USMAPS. In the game versus Globe Institute he hauled in a 49-yard option pass from converted quarterback recruit turned wide receiver Deandre Bell. It was the first play of third quarter and it set up a touchdown. Against FDU JV he beat the coverage to catch a picture perfect 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback A.J. Schurr. As a receiver in an option offense he showed he could block on the perimeter. He made a nice kick out block to spring running back Maurice Shoemaker for a 25-touchdown run in the Valley Forge game. In a road win against Columbia JV he caught a 58-yard option pass from Shumaker that set up the game winning touchdown.

Andrew Ellerson is a very tall, thin receiver with a long fluid sprinter like stride. Ellerson, being the son of a coach, has a very good understanding of the game. He runs good routes, can adjust to coverages and showed very good football instincts. He does a very nice job of tracking the ball in the air and catching it cleanly with his hands. He offers a tall target. Ellerson did a solid job on the edge as a blocker last season at USMAPS despite his slim frame. He needs to spend more time in the weight room since he's razor thin. Andrew showed the ability to get deep at times but he lacks great quickness or suddenness off the line. Ellerson might struggle against press coverage at this level unless he improves his strength in the weight room.

The other wide receiver at USMAPS last season was Deandre Bell. He stands 6-3 and weighs 205 pounds. Bell played at Waller high school in Texas where he was the team's quarterback. Deandre earned the attention of the Army staff when they initially went to Waller High School to look at another player. Bell was named academic All-State quarterback following the 2010 season. As a dual threat quarterback in high school Bell showed strength and the ability to break tackles when he ran the ball. He is a good all round athlete who also played basketball and ran track.

At the prep school he competed for the quarterback spot but was moved before the start of the season to wide receiver. Bell also saw time at running back when the prep team's backfield suffered a number of injuries. He demonstrated his throwing ability when he completed a long end around option pass against Globe Institute. Bell has above average speed and quickness. He made a nice catch on a fade route in the RPI game. It was very difficult to judge Bell as a receiver at USMAPS last year. The offense rarely threw the ball and in three of the nine games the Black Knights played the windy conditions which made throwing the football very difficult. Deandre did a solid job blocking on the perimeter last season creating running lanes. He's still learning to play the wide receiver position. Bell could stay at wide receiver, be moved to running back or possibly cornerback on defense. He has a high ceiling athletically.

Grant Escobar (5-9,184) was a late signing direct admit. Escobar was a running back, wide receiver and a cornerback for Whittier Christian high school in California. During his senior year he was utilized as a slot receiver and occasionally as a running back in addition to playing cornerback and safety. Escobar caught 63 passes for 806 yards (12.7) and scored eight touchdowns. Grant ran for 140 yards (6.1 avg.) and scored three touchdowns. At cornerback he made 33 tackles and intercepted two passes. As a junior he rushed 188 times for 1,084 rushing yards averaging 5.8 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns. As a pass receiver he caught 38 passes for 404 passing yards (10.6 avg.) and scored two touchdowns. On defense he made 25 tackles and intercepted two passes.

Escobar was an All-Area Performer for Whittier Christian high school in California in 2010 and 2011. He played slot receiver and in terms of speed (4.62 forty) seems to be more of a quick player than a truly fast one. Grant was used as a slot receiver at Whittier in a Wes Welker-like role. He possesses quick feet, can cut and moves well laterally. He has soft hands and can lay out and make the tough catch. He was used as a possession receiver and caught a lot of bubble screens and short passes for Whittier Christian. Escobar is a good athlete and has a 32 inch vertical leap. He also played baseball and was a top pitcher in the area. Escobar will be tried initially at wide receiver. Grant lacks the top end speed ideal in a FBS receiver but understands coverage and is quick enough to get open.

The other direct admit, wide receiver Michael Mc Fadden, has a connection to West Point. He is the son of Brian McFadden who played linebacker at West Point. McFadden is a 6-1, 182 pound player with 4.65 speed from Huntsville, Alabama. McFadden played strong safety, linebacker, running back and at Westminster Christian Academy. He is versatile and offers the position flexibility head coach Rich Ellerson looks for in a recruit. McFadden had also played quarterback in his sophomore season. On the R-day list he is listed as a wide receiver recruit.

In 2011 McFadden ran for 1,126 yards, 8.2 yards a carry, and scored eight touchdowns. He had 18 pass receptions for 344 yards, averaged 19.1 yards per catch, and scored five touchdowns. As a receiver he showed good hands, the body control to adjust to the ball in the air and some run after the catch ability despite his average speed. On defense he made 75 tackles. As a junior Brian made 125 tackles, including 15 1/2 for a loss, and forced three fumbles. Besides wide receiver McFadden could project to running back, Rover or strong safety.

Next: A look at the incoming offensive line

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