Army Incoming - Special Teams

A total of 79 freshmen joined the Army West Point football team on R-Day.'s Jim Lawler will now introduce the new Cadet special teams players.

Army head coach Jeff Monken will have to replace his specialists at least by next season with kicker Dan Grochowski and punter Alex Tardieu entering their senior seasons. Monken told me this spring he hoped some of the incoming plebes would emerge and potentially spark the Black Knights anemic return teams. There are a number of incoming players that may help the return teams.

Nick Schrage was a late blooming place kicker/punter who had a huge prep year at Fork Union Military Academy. Schrage made all eleven of his field goals, hit all 21 extra points and averaged 50 yards per punt at Fork Union in 2014. Not a bad year! He didn't start kicking and punting until his junior year at Patriot High school in Virginia. Schrage (6-1", 167) played JV ball as a junior and was only a kickoff specialist as a senior. He didn’t attempt a field goal during his varsity career. Nick has a strong leg and gets good hang time on his kickoffs and punts. Schrage is a Miami native who chose Army over being a preferred walk-on for the Miami Hurricanes.

Punter J.D. Mote (6-5", 215) starred last season in a post prep year at Georgia Military College. Mote had a 41.5 average on 32 punts in 10 games which would have ranked him in a tie for second nationally National Junior College Athletic Association but he lacked enough attempts to qualify. Mote played his high school football for the Georgia Force. The team was made up of home schooled students. J.D is a big punter and he actually played defensive end and left tackle in high school. Mote becomes the fifth home school student to play football for the Army.

Winston Smith was a 6-1”, 184- pound direct admit punter from Opelika, Alabama. Smith made 33 punts for 40.1 average per punt. He placed 10 inside the ten yard line. Winston hit a long of 57 yards. Smith doesn't boom the ball deep but he is a good direction punter with nice hang time on his punts. For his high school career he averaged 37.1 yards per punt and placed 25 of his 137 punts inside the twenty yard line. His punting has improved each season.

Army must improve its return game. Jeff Monken told me this spring that he hoped to get some help from this recruiting class without mentioning names. Josh Jenkins has good speed but averaged just 17.8 on 26 kickoff returns. Carnegie had a 19.5 average on eight kick returns. Army punt returners Jenkins, Moss and Poe averaged just 4.1 yards per returns. A couple of options may be slotbacks Jordan Asberry and Christian Drake.

Direct admit Jordan Asberry (5-9", 185) from Colerain high school in Ohio had five kickoff returns for 184 yards, an impressive 36.8 average per return and a touchdown. Asberry has the type of speed the Black Knights need. He has run a personal best of 10.93 in the 100-meters dash and is very explosive.

Christian Drake (5-10", 178) attended USMAPS last year but didn't play due to an injury. He is now healthy. At Pelham high school in Georgia he was a Class AA All State kick returner and a top track sprinter. Drake is lightening quick, has great speed (4.4 forty-yard yard) and excellent acceleration. Christian has ran a legit 10.68 time in the 100- meters in high school.

Christian Poe (6-4”, 200) was the punt returner last year at USMAPS. Christian is the brother of Army starting wide receiver and punt returner Edgar Poe. Poe is tall, lean player that can really run and has surprising speed. Poe had two key long punt returns that set up USMAPS game winning scores in come from behind fourth quarter victories over Army JV and Milford Academy. Poe has a knack of making people miss in the open field as a punt returner. Ray Hardaway (5-9, 175) was a starting slotback last fall for USMAPS. Ray averaged 9.8 per punt return and 22.8 on kickoffs including a touchdown in high school. Hardaway didn't return kicks at USMAPS but can help. Others like USMAPS wide receiver Jalen Sharp who has run a 10.82 personal best for the 100-meters and prep slotback Isaiah Williams could be in the mix as well.

The Army coverage teams did a nice job holding opponents to just a 3.0 punt return average and a 21.8 kickoff return average last year. It should get a boost from some of the better athletes coming in on defense. Linebacker Calen Holt is a fast, hard hitting play making linebacker who can cover kicks. Cornerback Brandon Jackson is a good special teams gunner. Linebacker Chandler Ramirez (6-0”, 210) and safety Max Regan both stood out on USMAPS coverage units. Speedy cornerback Isa Muhammad blocked a number of field goal attempts coming off the edge in high school.

Army brought in two long snappers in this class. Scott Flanick (6-2”, 215) was the long snapper last year at USMAPS. He is a local product from Pine Bush high school. As a senior he earned First-team all-star honors. Flanick saw time on both lines, at tight end as well as linebacker at Pine Bush. Flanick was remarkably consistent at the prep school in his snapping. Flanick did a great job snapping the ball and provided depth at linebacker for USMAPS. It seems long snapping is a family tradition. His uncles Mike and David Kiselak both were long snappers. Kiselak was a long snapper at SMU and Mike Kiselak played for the Dallas Cowboys and in the CFL. Christopher Dyer (5-11”, 215) is a direct admit from DuPont Manual high school in Kentucky. Dyer is a long snapper who played linebacker as well. He was a long snapper on both field goals and punts. Top Stories