Army Incoming: Offensive Line

ArmySports.com continues its preview of this year’s incoming freshman class by position. The offensive line was the most productive, deepest and best performing position on the team under the previous regime. This area of the team will be transformed by the Jeff Monken staff which uses the Navy template of bigger interior option linemen.

This incoming group of offensive linemen has some players who should contribute down the road.

Right tackle Mike Houghton was one of the best player last year on the United States Military Academy Prep School offensive line. Houghton was a two-way player at Prospect high school in Illinois. He played defensive end and center was named Mid-Suburban East Conference Defensive Player of the Year with 94 tackles and 14 sacks. Houghton played power forward on the basketball team and was named All-Conference and All-Area.

Houghton was listed only as 6-3, 218 pounds on the official R-day list. He is a lean, athletic option tackle but I really question if he only weighs 218 pounds unless he spent the off season on a hunger strike. His listed high school weight was 230 pounds. He looked like he was at least in the 240 range last year. Houghton impressed me with his athleticism, strength, leg drive and ability to come off the ball to get to the second level. Houghton is a quick lineman who consistently took out linebackers. He is a big effort player with a nonstop motor who doesn't give up on plays. Mike Houghton has the potential to be a quality starter down the road.

Houghton Highlights

Patrick Joseph was a starting guard at the United States Military Prep School last fall. He was Army's only three-star ranked recruit by Scout.com in the 2013 recruiting class. Patrick Joseph (6-3, 275) was a right tackle in 2012 for the highly successful Hamilton high school team in Arizona. He was a team captain and earned First Team All-State honors. Joseph was ranked as the fifth best offensive lineman in Arizona by Scout.com.

Joseph had what I considered to be a solid but not spectacular season at USMAPS. He arrived at training camp a rather chunky 290-pounds and struggled a bit with his new option blocking assignments at guard. Joseph had some trouble matching up against the more athletic defensive tackles from prep powerhouse Milford Academy and Navy Prep. He's worked hard and slimmed down in the off season. He's not the great natural athlete that you might expect in a three-star recruit but he is tough, a battler, competitive and a hard worker. He'll probably be moved back to his natural tackle position this fall. With the year of experience in an option system and the move back to tackle his play should continue to improve. I expect he'll become more consistent and lift his play at tackle. Patrick chose Army over offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Air Force.



Joe Tustin was a starting guard last year at United States Military Academy Prep School. Tustin is a 6-2, 285 pound guard who played at St. Anthony's high school in Long Island, New York. St. Anthony's is the small Catholic school that produced former Army football captain Frank Scappaticci. Tustin was an impressive road grader guard at USMAPS. He is quick off the ball and finishes his blocks. He is strong, physical, tenacious and competitive mauler. He dominated in a number of games last year. The two-star rated guard is probably the most physically ready among the incoming USMAPS guards to compete right now at the FBS level.



Jaryn Villegas (6-0, 275) was a backup offensive guard who was part of the guard rotation last year at the United States Military Prep School. He attended Leilehua high school in Hawaii where he earned All-State honors his junior and senior seasons. He won the state heavyweight wrestling championship. Villegas was ranked among the top five high school offensive line prospects by Hawaii Prep in 2012. Like most wrestlers he understands leverage, has good balance, is flexible and can bend his knees. This is a key to success for a triple option lineman since they have to be flexible, have the ability to bend and play with their pads forward in an almost horizontal line. He is a strong, physical and aggressive lineman. His lack of height and short arms is not as much a liability for a option offensive lineman.





The new Army staff lost their most highly regarded direct admit recruit Isaiah Holland to a medical DQ late in the spring. Even with the loss of the talented Holland they did land another talented player named Bryce Holland, no relation to Isiah, and six other direct admit offensive linemen.

Bryce Holland is a Scout.com three-star recruit from Chandler, Arizona. Holland (6-2, 260) was widely considered one of the best centers in Arizona last year. Scout.com ranked him third among all the center recruits out West. He was a teammate of fellow three-star recruit Patrick Joseph at the powerhouse Hamilton high school program. Holland is very quick off the ball and has the lower body strength and quickness you want in a option center. Holland chose Army over offers from Navy, Air Force, Pennsylvania and Yale. He would have received more offers but committed back in May of 2013 and remained firm about attending West Point despite the coaching change.

Brett Toth is a long, lean 6-foot-6, 265-pound offensive tackle from West Ashley high school in Charleston, South Carolina. Toth offer excellent length, speed and quickness but needs to fill out his frame in the weight room. Toth had impressed the former staff in last year’s summer camp at West Point. Toth chose the Black Knights over offers from Citadel, Western Carolina, Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb.

Toth Highlights

Trey Ratliff (6-4, 275) was a three year starter for Heritage high school in North Carolina. Ratliff, whose father played for the Black Knights, committed last October. He was tempted by a late offer from UConn but his family ties to West Point proved too strong. Ratliff has a nice size, frame and mobility and was one of the most highly regarded offensive line recruits. Ratliff received offers from UTEP, Connecticut, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Penn, Citadel, Gardner-Webb and Richmond.

Ratliff Highlights

Center Sage Baltrusaitis (6-0, 260) was a three year starter at center for Brother Rice High School in Detroit, Michigan. He made First Team All-League as a senior. Baltrusaitis selected Army over Air Force. Grant Kramer is a 6-foot-4, 252 pound lineman who was the team captain of his Duxbury, Massachusetts team. He chose Army over offers from Coastal Carolina and Villanova. His brother Aaron Kramer is an offensive tackle for Boston College.

Tim Shover is a direct admit center/long snapper from Wheeling high school in Illinois. Shover is a 6-2, 275 pound lineman who played center in high school and was a track and field athlete. He reflects the new staff's desire to have a bigger more athletic wide body at center. Jack Ward is a 6-foot 3-inch 230 pound lineman who was a defensive end in high school but is listed with the offensive linemen on the R-day list. Ward graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire but spent a year as a postgraduate student at the Salisbury School in Connecticut. He suffered a knee injury in his final game last year but is now healthy.

The R-day list contains two other backup lineman who played last year at the United States Military Academy Prep School. Mike Nordhausen (6-4, 245) played football at Cardinal Mooney high school in Florida. He was incorrectly listed as a 245-pound running back. Trust me he's not the second coming of Ironhead Heyward in the backfield. Nordhausen was a two-way player and was initially listed as a defensive end. He's a developmental player with nice stature and frame. He is very raw from a technique standpoint and needs to get stronger and fill out his frame. Jake Vaughn (6-2, 230) was an all-league high school defensive end at Etiwanda high school in California. He was used as both a backup defensive end and offensive lineman last fall at the United States Military Academy Prep School. He is an average athlete and needs time in new strength coach's Tim Caron's weight room if he hopes to develop into a factor down the road.

Next: A look at the incoming defensive line.

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