Army defense: Part I

Last week, ArmySports.com took a position-by-position look at the Black Knights' 2006 offense. Time to move to the other side of the ball. Here is the first installation of the defensive outlook, starting with cornerbacks and linebackers. Check back later in the week for analysis on the defensive line and safety positions:

Cornerbacks

The men: Sean Grevious and Darren Newson

The skinny: Army's defense is improving and may even be better this fall. But there is a glaring lack of experience at the cornerback position. Both Grevious and Newson are talented, but..........Neither has started a game at the position. Grevious, a junior, played in just six games last season due to a fractured tailbone. He saw most of his action on special teams and made just three tackles. Only a freshman, Newson is regarded as the future at the position. He opened last year as the Black Knights' nickel back and held the position the entire season.

The future: See Newson. A group of freshman including, Josh Mitchell, Brandon White and John Laird will compete for playing time in coming years. Sophomore Anton McDuffie should also be in the mix.

Strong side linebacker

The man: Charlie Rockwood or Luke Pell

The skinny: Rockwood appeared to have the job locked up for the long haul, at least, until he tore his anterior cruciate ligament last Sept. 23 against Iowa State. In Rockwood's absence, Pell continued to impress Army coach Bobby Ross. The pair are expected to compete for the starting job during preseason drills in what should be a heated battle.

The future: Rockwood, a sophomore, was Army's fastest linebacker before his injury. He was still recovering during spring drills and won't be at full strength until preseason camp. If he's at 100 percent, Rockwood maintains a slight edge over Pell, a junior. But don't count out Pell, who led Army with nine tackles for a loss last season.

Middle linebacker

The man: Cason Shrode

The skinny: As Army's main run stopper, Shrode is always attacking. He isn't just big (6-3, 251), Shrode is fast and tough. Shrode was third on the team with 69 tackles last season, his first as a starter. Ross was happy with the junior's performance, but he expects more out of Shrode this fall.

The future: Ross has recruited a handful of talented linebackers including, Andy DiEugenio of State College, Pa. DiEugenio passed on a chance at preferred walk-on status at Penn State to come to West Point. Sophomore Brian Chmura, listed as Shrode's back-up, had an impressive spring game.

Weak side linebacker

The man: Barrett Scruggs

The skinny: Another player who came into 2005 with virtually no experience and shined for the Black Knights. Once again, Scruggs will be expected to cut down running backs who get through Army's interior defense before they hit the secondary. He's fast - he runs a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash - and was second on the team with 80 tackles last season. He was named one of four Army captains during spring drills.

The future: Only a freshman, John Plumstead saw action in eight games on special teams last year. Ross has spoke highly of him and third-stringer Frank Scappaticci, a freshman.


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