Starter: Lamar Johnson-Harris #16 So.
Back up: Jordan Crockett #27 Sr.
Third String: Isaac Winters #1 Jr.
It seems odd that junior cornerback Lamar Johnson-Harris (5-9, 173) will enter this summer camp on top of the depth chart. Johnson-Harris didn't play with the varsity last season after he was injured and missed 2012 spring practice. When he was healthy and returned to the field his only playing time last year was on the JV team. Johnson-Harris didn't set the world on fire as he struggled early during this past spring practice. He started to compete better as spring practice wore on and he was the starting field cornerback by the Black and Gold game. Johnson-Harris is a short but muscular cornerback with only 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 as a starting boundary cornerback in 2011. Army's defensive coordinators had to often change the coverage scheme to help him by using cover four and rolling coverages to his side. The move to field cornerback is a better fit for him. He's a little undersized for the run support duties the staff asks of the boundary cornerback. Johnson-Harris isn't the most talented cornerback but he is a feisty player who will battle.
Senior Jordan Crockett (5-6, 163) had a terrific spring practice and was named the back-up. Crockett is the shorter twin brother of Julian who served as Army kick returner last year. Jordan hasn't seen any varsity action and has been a regular on the JV team the last three seasons. Crockett may possess the best pure cover skills of any cornerback on the team despite his lack of any varsity action. He is quick and fluid out of his backpedal and possesses 4.5 speed. He is tough and fearless but the obvious problem is that he is very small for a cornerback. He actually looks tiny on the field and could literally play on the Army sprint team. Crockett's lack of size forces him to be spot on perfect with his technique. A big, physical receiver can muscle him and establish inside position rather easily against him. His lack of size makes him a liability in the red zone and against the run.
Junior Isaac Winters (5-9, 180) is another defensive player who is listed this high on the depth chart by default due to injuries. Winters has played on the JV team the last few years. He is an Army brat who was born in Germany when his father was stationed there. Winters has solid straight line speed but he lacks cover skills. He doesn't change of direction quickly out of his backpedal and often fails to track the ball well in the air. He is a wrap-up tackler who misses too many tackles in the open field.
The staff hopes that junior Marques Avery can overcome his chronic shoulder injuries and win the starting field cornerback spot this summer. Avery appeared in seven games in 2012 and started five games at field cornerback. His season ended against Rutgers when he suffered his third season ending shoulder injury in three years when he attempting to break up a touchdown pass. Avery didn't start the first two games but was pressed into action against Wake Forest due to injuries. After missing his entire freshman season and most of 2012 spring practice, he was rusty and missed some tackles in the open field. Avery played one of his best games in his first start against Boston College matched up against the Eagles playmaking wide receiver Alex Amidon. On the season he made 12 tackles and led the team with six passes defensed.
Avery is a tall cornerback (6-1) and at times looks awkward, tentative and seemed a little flatfooted in coverage. He is still very raw and was probably the most inexperienced cornerback to start an FBS game last year. Marque has started just seven games at cornerback in his life. In high school he was more of a track athlete and played wide receiver as a senior. He was switched to cornerback at USMAPS and played in only two games before suffering a season ending shoulder injury. He's now injured his shoulders three times in three years which raises durability questions. More importantly the injury caused him to miss spring practice for the second year in a row. This denied him the valuable reps he needs to improve. If he can stay healthy, a big if, and improves his technique he still has an excellent upside with his size and above average speed. The staff expects him to start if he's healthy.
The players to watch this fall will probably be two incoming cornerbacks. One is a terrific cover cornerback who was named the defensive MVP at the United States Military Academy Prep School last fall. He is easily the most talented cornerback Ellerson has recruited to West Point. The other candidate is an unlikely transfer from the Air Force Academy Prep School. His father attended West Point and after watching the Army-Navy game on TV realized he made the wrong choice. Both should compete immediately for spots on the three deep depth chart. We'll discuss both players and the entire class of Incoming new recruits in the ArmySports.com scouting reports after R-day.
Army Spring Depth Chart Review: Field CB
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