Army Practice Analysis- Week 1

The Black Knights opened their 2012 preseason summer football practice on Wednesday August 8. The workout session lasted about two hours and was conducted in helmets and shorts. Part was held indoor at the Foley Athletic Center and outside on Howze Field. Day one was conducted with the team in shorts and helmets.

The focus was on players learning the daily routine and drills that they were expected to perform the rest of the season. On Thursday the team was once again in helmets and shorts for a three hour practice inside the Foley Athletic Center. On Friday and Saturday the team held practice in helmets and shoulder pads as the team squared off in one on one drills.

The most noticeable position change the first week were the moving of senior Malcolm Brown and junior Scott Williams from running back to wide receiver. The Black Knights entered this season with wide receiver the weakest area of the offense. Army has to replace both of last year's starters. With the logjam at running back the staff told me this spring they planned to try versatile Jon Crucitti as a receiver this summer after he recovered from surgery. That plan has changed and the staff has moved Malcolm Brown to wide receiver and kept Crucitti at running back.

The position switch of Brown from C-back to wide receiver makes a lot of sense in my opinion. Brown has the best hands on the team among all the skill position players. He demonstrated that fact by catching three touchdown passes against Navy the last two years. Brown has excellent quickness and good speed but has struggled with injuries since becoming a starter at C-back. He missed three games in 2010. His playing time was limited to just 20 or 30 snaps per game last season as he played hurt the entire year. He had surgery when the season was over on his ankle and missed spring practice. This move could keep him on the field and provide a legit pass target for Trent Steelman at wide receiver. Scott Williams who saw time returning kicks and at slot back last year also moved to wide receiver. Williams was a possession receiver in high school. Williams, despite two costly fumbles last year, possesses good hands. Scott is a big effort player who lacks speed. On Friday he caught a long pass from plebe Kelvin White in traffic. He also made a nice catch along the sidelines on an out route from Steelman. The staff also moved speedy Marcus Jackson from cornerback to wide receiver. Jackson won the Georgia State 400 meter high school title in both his junior and senior seasons. His personal best was 48.49 his senior season. Jackson has run a 10.9 100 meter dash. Last year he struggled catching the ball when briefly used on kickoff returns.

The competition for the starting receiver positions is still wide open. Patrick Laird, E.J. Tucker and Anthony Stevens have been in the first team rotation attempting to hold off the new competitors at wide receiver. One of the early disappointments during the first week was sophomore Chevaughn Lawrence. Lawrence is physically probably the most talented wide receiver but he has struggled to catch the ball and has missed assignments during The Opening week. Lawrence has ability and was the best receiver on the field during the Armor-Infantry game making two receptions for 53 yards this past spring. He's regressed the first week and needs to lift his game.

The program received bad news when it was announced that flex player Jacob Drozd has left the football team to focus on track. Drozd played defensive tackle last year as a plebe and was one of the most talented athletes on the roster. In high school Drozd 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. 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. Jacob wasn't going to be a starter this year but was in the rotation and they planned to let him rush off the edge on passing downs. Fortunately the incoming defensive line from the 2011 prep school team was talented and some players like freshman Dalton Mendenhall can offset this lost. Despite the post news spin this was a hit to the defense. Army rarely has players in its front seven with the athletic ability of Drozd.

On the positive front it was announced two senior football players were appointed to top leadership positions. Brandon "James" Whittington was been named the First Captain of the United States Corps of Cadets. As First Captain he is responsible for the performance of Corps of Cadets. It is the highest command position for West Point cadets. This prestigious rank has been held by some of the most notable members of the Long Gray line including Generals like John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, William Westmoreland and Pete Dawkins. Whittington, better known as James, is a reserve cornerback. Senior punter Chris Boldt was appointed as the First Regimental Commander. Boldt will lead one of the four Corps' regiments this year.

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