ARMYSPORTS.com continues to look at this year's incoming freshman class by position. This year, with position moves and attrition, there are only three running backs joining the Black Knights. The two players from the prep school have talent but the team lost John Sanford, who had a terrific season at USMAPS, but he surprisingly didn't appear for R-day. Even with the loss of Sanford this is still a solid group. ARMYSPORTS.com will now take a look at the new Black Knights running backs.
Joe Walker (6-0, 185) was the starting "C" running back last fall for the United States Military Academy Prep School. Walker is from Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in Georgia. He was used as a wingback, a slot receiver, a wide receiver and played on defense as a cornerback at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy. The Scout.com two star recruit was used as a runner and as a receiver in a role that is similar to the Army C-back position during his high school career. Walker ran the anchor leg on the Eagle's Landing Christian Academy track 4 X 100 relay team that won the state championship in 42.39. He has run a 10.9 100-meter dash. Joe was named second team All-State Class 2A as a wide receiver after his senior season.
At USMAPS Walker scored on a 10-yard touchdown run against Kings College JV in the opener last fall. Joe had a nice game in the win over Milford Academy. He opened the team's scoring showing a nice burst on an 18-yard touchdown run off a pitch. He finished the game with six carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. In the finale against Navy Prep, Walker ran six times for 84 yards but lost a fumble. He had a 21-yard reception on a pass from quarterback Matthew Kaufmann. Walker left the NAPS game late in the second half with a groin injury. Walker, who was a team captain last year at USMAPS, is a solid runner who offers quickness and good speed. He's been consistently timed around 4.6 in the forty yard dash. Walker can catch the ball and handle the pitch. He needs to work on his cut blocking in space like most running backs that are new to this option system. He should eventually develop into a contributor.
Elijah St. Hilaire is a 5-10, 185 pound running back from Palisades Park, New Jersey. At USMAPS he played both the "A" and "C" running back positions last fall. Elijah was mostly used as a wide receiver his junior year at Pal Park. He caught 54 passes for 896 yards (16.6 avg.) and scored 12 touchdowns. As a runner he ran for 483 yards, scored four touchdowns, while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He was a special teams star, averaging 33.2 yards on 30 kickoff returns and he scored three touchdowns. He also returned two punt returns for a touchdowns in 2010. With his on the field production, St. Hilaire was generally regarded as a three-star wide receiver recruit after his junior year. That opinion changed during the summer at a Junior National Underclassmen camp when he ran a less than impressive 4.73 time in the forty yard dash. That time scared away many top FBS suitors which worked to Army's benefit. During his senior season Elijah was moved to running back and carried the ball 136 times for 1,075 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 12 touchdowns. He caught 16 passes for 243 yards and scored another two touchdowns. As a senior the Pal Park coaching staff didn't use him as a punt returner and he returned just seven kickoffs all year but still returned a kickoff for a touchdown. St. Hilaire also played cornerback for Palisades Park. As a senior he was an All-North Jersey selection and First team All-Area choice.
Last fall St. Hilaire had a nice touchdown run against Kings College JV in the United States Military Academy Prep first game. Early in the season he suffered a shoulder injury which limited his plays from scrimmage. At West Point, against Globe Institute, Elijah ran for another touchdown. In the win over Milford Academy he demonstrated his ability as a receiver as he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tevin Long in the end zone. St. Hilaire showed his ability to turn the corner on a nice 22-yard run in the finale against NAPS.
St. Hilaire played last season at USMAPS with a series of nagging injuries. He is a good athlete with a very smooth, effortless wide receiver like stride. St. Hilaire lacks blazing speed but on the field seems to be one of those players who plays faster than his recorded track time. Elijah has excellent hands and catches the ball cleanly away from his body. He can adjust to the ball and make the touch catch. He is still learning to block and needs to be a lot more physical for the demands that are placed on an Army running back. He was moved to cornerback late in the year due to injuries on the USMAPS defense. He is a good football player but needs more time to mature physically and get stronger. It looks like he added about ten pounds this off season. St. Hilaire was a very productive return specialist in high school who had good vision and the ability to make the first man miss. He averaged a touchdown once every eight times he touched the ball on kick and punt returns. At Army he will initially be tried at running back but could possibly transition to wide receiver, cornerback and help in the return game. St. Hilaire originally committed to Akron but then changed his commitment to Army. He ended up choosing Army over offers from Akron, Bryant, Colorado State, Towson and a number of Ivy League schools.
Paul Andrew Rhoden is a direct admit who played running back for James Campbell High School in Hawaii. He was a two year varsity starter for Campbell and split most of the carries with another running back. As a senior he ran the ball 87 times for 462 yards, an average of 5.3 yards per carry, and scored four touchdowns. He had 14 pass receptions for 80 receiving yards and a score. Rhodes was rated as one of the top ten high school running back in Hawaii according to sportshawaii.com preseason rankings. He caught the Army's staff's attention at the post season Academic All-American Game where he had an impressive game helping lead Team Hawaii to victory. He earned First team All-Oahu Red West honors for his senior season.
The 6-0, 212 pound Rhoden is a tough power running back. He looks the part of an FCS running back getting off the bus but he isn't very elusive or that fast. Rhoden has been timed at 4.71 in the forty yard dash. He's an honest, physical north-south runner who does his best running between the tackles. He's solid running back who plays hard, can break tackles, doesn't fumble and was effective as a lead blocker in the Campbell offense. He could play "A" back or possibly be used as a fullback. Rhoden chose to play FBS football at Army over a multiple Division II and Division III offers.
Army Incoming: Runningbacks
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