Army Spring Review: Guards

Army recently completed its spring drills. ArmySports.com’s Jim Lawler will now review every Black Knight position and name a starter, a backup and a third string player to watch. In this segment he reviews the offensive guards.

Jeff Monken told me this spring that the offensive line "needs to get more athletic and that is a focus of recruiting." Health would also help as well since the guards were beaten up this spring practice.

Sophomore Mike Houghton (6-4", 257) won the starting left guard spot. Houghton worked himself into the rotation as a plebe right tackle last fall. He played in seven games while starting twice. I felt he was the best player on the 2013 United States Military Academy Prep School offensive line as I discussed in the Armysports.com R-day report. Houghton impressed me with his athleticism, 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 non-stop motor who doesn't give up on plays. Mike has added some weight since last fall and with some additional muscle he has the potential to be a quality starter.

Junior Lofi Tamasese, who is a 6-foot-1, 304 pounds, won the right guard spot with his play this spring. He is also currently listed as the backup at left guard. Lofi missed most of 2014 spring practice with an injury and fell behind others. He saw only spot duty in 2014. In 2012 he was the starting center at the United States Military Prep School after choosing Army over an offer to walk on at Cal. Tamasese has terrific size for an Army lineman. He has big arms, tree truck like legs but is surprisingly flexible and can move. Tamasese is a wide body with natural strength. The Monken staff moved him to guard which, as I stated in the 2013 R-day report, was a better position for him. Tamasese was elected as team captain at USMAPS and was one of its best players. It looks like this spring he might be reaching his potential.

Jaryn Villegas is listed as the backup right guard. As a plebe Villegas started four games last year. Villegas (6-2, 294) was like much of the offensive line and was nicked up this spring causing him to miss practice time. Villegas is a bit of a late bloomer and has added some weight and grown since his prep season. He has good strength and as a former wrestler understands leverage. When healthy this summer he has a chance to regain his starting job. A number of the linemen like sophomores Bryce Holland, Trey Ratliff and junior Colby Enegren battled injuries this spring and missed time. Expect at least one of them to be the backup at left guard and push both starters.

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