Army spring review: Offensive Tackles

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 offensive tackles.

LEFT TACKLE

Starters: Drew Hennessy Jr.
Co- Starters: Ryan Powis Jr.
Third String: Adam Szott So.

RIGHT TACKLE

Starters: Justin Gilbert Jr.
Third String: Niko Schillaci Jr.


At right tackle returning junior Justin Gilbert (6-7, 251) had a terrific spring practice. He impressed the new staff. It is easy to see why; he has good feet, balance and agility. Justin has long arms and is very athletic for his size. He is able to get to the second level consistently to take out linebackers. Gilbert plays hard and really gets after opposing linemen until the whistle blows. Gilbert only needs to limit his penalties. He has developed into the quality tackle ArmySports.com predicted in our 2012 R-day report. His back up is former direct admit Niko Schillaci whom is 6-foot-4 and weighs 240 pounds. Schillaci has played tackle on the JV squad the last two years. He played left tackle and tight end in high school. He moves well for his size but is very lean for a tackle.

At left tackle junior Drew Hennessy (6-4, 266) deserves credit as he has continued to move up the depth chart. He is a hard worker in the weight room and has added nearly 15 pounds. Hennessy was a late bloomer. In 2011 he was just a backup offensive tackle at the prep school. As a freshman he split time at tackle on the JV team. Drew continued to work at his game and last spring he made a huge move up the depth chart. This year, at the end of spring, he was named the starting left tackle. He is a tough, physical player who has some mobility. Jeff Monken said in the post spring practice he'd like to see him heavier.

As we discussed previously, three year starting center Ryan Powis was moved from center to second string left tackle. Powis had a rough spring as he was nicked up and struggled with the shotgun snap at center. Monken' system likes a bigger presence at center as I wasn't surprised with that move. I am surprised that he is running behind Hennessy. Monken had a number of players who had previously seen a lot of playing time on the second units. This was a common coaching ploy of Paul Johnson for players who missed time with injuries or weren't playing up to their ability to be dropped on the depth chart in the spring. Most of Navy's players responded to the challenge and lifted their games to once again become starters in the fall. Monken might be making the same kind of statement. However, it may just be that injuries and wear and tear have caught up to the undersized Powis. If Powis is healthy I would be surprised if he isn't a starter on the offensive line. However, it could be that his three years of starting, and having to battle a number of injuries, has limited the explosiveness that he relied on. Time will tell. We'll find out this summer.

Sophomore Adam Szott played guard last year on the JV team and the year before at the United States Military Prep School. Adam is the younger brother of former Army guard Jon Szott who just graduated. Szott played well the last two years as he matures into being a college lineman. He is smart, tough, plays fast and low. He was very productive but at 6-1, 266 he is a little undersized. Szott has moved up the depth chart because he understands the system. He lacks a naturally wide frame and must work hard in the weight room to get stronger and to develop physically. The tackle position took a hit this spring when last year's solid backup Nick Bennett, who was competing for a starting spot, left the program.

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