Army Incoming: Special Teams

ArmySports.com continues its introduction of the 2013 incoming Black Knight freshman. In the final segment we discuss special teams players Ralph Freibert and Mitchell Howard. Earlier mentioned players Jalen Noble, Josh Jenkins, Elijah St. Hilarie, Joe Walker and Xavier Moss are also discussed.

With the graduation of kicker Eric Osteen, punter Chris Boldt and the fact that everyone who returned a punt last year is no longer with the program there may be opportunities for some plebes to make an impact on special teams. The Black Knights have a number of incoming players that may help the return teams. In our final installment discussing this year's incoming football freshman class by position ArmySports.com will discuss the Black Knight special teams. Ralph Freibert was the kicker and punter at the United States Military Academy Prep School last fall. He had previously served in both capacities for Jesuit high school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Freibert (5-11, 185) was a two-time all-state punter and made 27 field goals during in his high school career.

Freibert struggled at USMAPS with his placekicking consistency as he was kicking off the grass for the first time without a tee. Freibert seems to have been bothered by a leg injury and it affected his place kicking. Against Milford Academy he hit three field goals but missed three extra points. In the Valley Forge game he had a rough game and was replaced by wide receiver Edgar Poe in the second half. In the finale against arch rival Navy Prep he missed an extra point.

Freibert did a nice job as a punter. He was able to get his punts off quickly with good hand time. Ralph has a strong leg and really nailed a few punts. He's listed on the Black Knight depth chart as a punter and his future at West Point is probably not as a place kicker. He handled kickoffs at USMAPS and did a good job driving the ball. He has a chance to handle kickoffs down the road.

Mitchell Howard is a direct admit kicker from Las Lomas High School in California. He is a six foot one-inch tall, 175 pound kicker who was captain of his high school's soccer team. Mitchell served as the varsity kicker his last two years. Howard hit 34 of 35 extra points and 9-of-11 field goal attempts last year. Howard recorded touchbacks on 65% of his kickoffs. Chris Sailer who runs a kicking camp said "He [Howard] has a strong left leg and kicks with excellent technique and consistency. Kickoffs are also near the top of his class."

Both of the main return specialists at United States Military Academy Prep School did not join the program this fall. Exciting punt returner Jevon Elmore signed with Central Connecticut State University. Kickoff return man Nicolas Beavers will not play football and will run track at West Point exclusively. There are some other plebes however who can help. Jalen Noble returned a punt for a touchdown in high school and handled some punts at Air Force Prep last year. Josh Jenkins has great hands and is quick. Elijah St. Hilarie was a special teams star in high school. He averaged 33.2 yards on over thirty kickoff returns and scored four touchdowns. He also returned two punt returns for touchdowns. Joe Walker and Xavier Moss have the hands and speed to help on kickoff returns.

The coverage teams should benefit from players like Eddy Ruzga, Edgar Poe and Josh Jenkins who were standouts last year at USMAPS covering both punts and kickoffs.

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