Army spring review: Quarterbacks

Army recently completed its first spring practice under new head coach Jeff Monken. ArmySports.com will now review every position, listing the starter, backup and third string player. In this edition we look at the quarterbacks.

The difference in practice tempo, effort required and coaching demanded by the staff was night and day between Monken's staff and the more laid back California style of Ellerson's staff. Having seen both in person it's obvious that Monken's physical practices are very reminiscent of former Navy head coach Paul Johnson. When discussing players we refer to the class year that they will be in this fall.

QUARTERBACKS

Starter: A.J. Schurr Jr.
Backup: Angel Santiago Sr.
Third String: Matthew Kaufmann So.
Junior A.J. Schurr won the starting quarterback job at the end of spring practice for the second consecutive year. Schurr's ability to hold onto the job may depend on his ability to hang onto the football. Schurr was a huge disappointment in his sophomore year. He was expected to be the heir apparent to Trent Steelman but lost his job during the summer. When given the chance to play he had trouble both holding on to the ball and staying healthy. It's a trend that hasn't gone away. Schurr was sacked and lost a fumble to end the Spring Black and Gold game. The ball also slipped out of his hands, like it did in his only disastrous start against Navy, a few times during spring scrimmages when he attempted to pass. Schurr does offer the best all round skills among the current quarterbacks. He isn't explosive but displays good quickness running the ball. Schurr can pass the ball accurately as he showed last year coming off the bench against Hawaii. AJ has the most upside of the current group but he needs to start protecting the ball and avoid turnovers.

Senior quarterback Angel Santiago ended spring practice as the backup after starting eleven games last season. Santiago did a solid job of avoiding turnovers until the finale against Navy when he had a very rough game off the bench. Santiago was benched for the Black and Gold spring game due to a disciplinary issue. Santiago is solid and had a good spring until he was benched. The issue is he simply isn't a playmaker as a runner and is a below average passer. As a runner he offers some quickness but lacks a top end gear and doesn't break many tackles. Angel rushed for over 100 yards only once, in the opening day victory over Morgan State, last year. His passing is inconsistent and he lacks a strong arm. Santiago can manage the game but while he avoids mistakes he doesn't make a lot of plays. It was interesting that Monken felt the top two quarterbacks played against their previous reputations with Schurr impressing him more as a runner and Santiago being the better passer this spring. This one isn't over. While Schurr has the lead this competition is still razor close

Sophomore quarterback Matthew Kaufmann really helped himself this spring and bypassed his co-starter at the prep school Tevin Long. Kaufmann is a solid athlete who is tough, strong for his size and has good instincts. The lefty Kaufmann was the star of the spring game. He threw the ball very well in completing 13 of 17 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown during the Black and Gold game. He did a solid job moving the team this spring and has a good understanding of the offense. I saw him play a lot at the prep school. I give him credit for his improved play but he has plenty of limitations. Matthew isn't very fast or explosive despite huge rushing numbers in high school. His longest run during the Spring game was nine yards. Kaufmann reminds me of a left-handed version of Santiago. He's been able to move the team but I question if he's a long term answer.

Sophomore quarterback Tevin Long took a huge step back this spring and was actually looked at as a wide receiver, kick returner late this spring. He struggled at quarterback running the new offense and had a brutal spring game losing yards on all three of his carries. Long is a quick runner but if his play doesn't improve then a position change may be needed. I think he will be bypassed by a prep school quarterback and possibly a direct admit.

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