Will the Lack of Seniors Hurt Army Black Knights?

Army is in an unusual position now that preseason camp has begun. The Black Knights are used to having a roster laden with upperclassmen. This has been one of the benefits to the school of Army players not being able to declare for the NFL. When a player commits to playing in West Point the coaching staff knows they have four (plus a potential redshirt) years with that player. This should in theory result in a much more consistent turnover of players on a yearly basis and every class should have

Army is in an unusual position now that preseason camp has begun. The Black Knights are used to having a roster laden with upperclassmen. This has been one of the benefits to the school of Army players not being able to declare for the NFL. When a player commits to playing in West Point the coaching staff knows they have four (plus a potential redshirt) years with that player. This should in theory result in a much more consistent turnover of players on a yearly basis and every class should have a similar number of seniors.

In 2016 however this is not the case at all.

Army is carrying a roster of 142 players into camp. Of that number the Black Knights have 16 seniors and that includes Justin Gilbert who was granted a fifth year of eligibility due to injury issues in the past. This means just 11-percent of the Black Knights roster will be a senior. This is a staggeringly small number even when accounting for the number of freshmen who will not make the team.

The biggest problem for Army is that the system the Black Knights run, especially the triple-option on offense, is a system that requires experience and cohesion above anything else. Navy was able to take the triple-option to an 11-2 record last year and a huge part of that was the 10 senior starters the Mids were able to play on offense. Jeff Monken is going to have to work hard this preseason to develop the knowledge of the system in players who in an ideal world would have another year or more to learn behind experienced players.

Another issue that comes from this is the lack of clearly defined locker room leadership. By default the Army campus is one blessed with leaders, but it is always easier for those leaders to be seniors who have been there and done that. It is sometimes harder to take a fellow classmate as seriously in that role. Hopefully camp will allow some of these leaders to step forward.

Losing the likes of Aaron Kemper, Drue Harris, and Josh Jenkins has certainly hurt Army. It actually makes very little sense that Army would be so light on seniors when you consider just how young the team was in 2015. Army did not have a lot of seniors at the top of the depth chart last fall and the correlation between that and losing so many close games must be noted. The lack of seniors is something that the Black Knights must rally round as a group and not let destroy the season this fall


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