Spring drills wrap

Army wrapped up its spring practices last week and next time the Black Knights take the field it will be preseason camp. As it stands, less than 140 days remain until the season-opener at Eastern Michigan. Certainly, new Army coach Rich Ellerson will be looking for more improvement during the dog days of August.

ArmySports.com looks at five key positions on the roster and evaluates how the Black Knights are progressing.

1. Quarterback: Things look pretty good at this position. You figure Chip Bowden will only continue to grow under Ellerson.

Bowden, a rising junior, deserves credit. He performed well last year in Stan Brock's thrown together option attack. Also key, is that Bowden's projected back-up, Max Jenkins, also seems to be flourishing under Ellerson.

That would give Army a solid option if Bowden ever goes down. Keep in mind, Ellerson will likely recruit a few quarterbacks, and that a player could be possibly thrown right in the mix if he thinks highly of him.

2. Wide receiver: Moving 6-foot-10 Ali Villanueva from offensive lineman to wide receiver makes for a good story.

Let's give the big guy some credit. He performed well in spring drills, hauling down touchdown passes. But it will much different when cornerbacks and safeties are going full speed during games.

The rest of Villanueva's wide outs are inexperienced, including Davyd Brooks and Damion Hunter. There is potential here, but there are also question marks.

3. The offensive line: This Army unit has been up and down for years and the Black Knights lose three starters from last year.

Center Trey Miranne, guard Brandon Cox and tackle Mike Lemming have all graduated, leaving the Black Knights some holes to fill. If the guys up front can't block, Ellerson's option attack can't go. But there is some experience returning in guard Mikel Weich and tackle Jason Johnson.

Ellerson must have confidence in other guys stepping up if he moved Villanueva to wide out.

4. Running back: There is a huge void to be filled with fullback Collin Mooney graduating. He rushed for 1,339 yards, setting the Army single-season. CeDarius Williams and Robert McClary showed see time at fullback this fall. They are inexperienced, but have potential. They should also benefit from being in Ellerson's scheme.

At slot back, Army fans look for junior Pat Mealy senior Ian Smith to finally reach his potential. Hunter could also see time in the pitch running game.

5. The defense: Leading tackler from last season, Frank Scappaticci (97), graduates. But the Black Knights have plenty of talent returning.

That includes the team's second-leading tackler from a year ago, linebacker Stephan Anderson (82), and No. 3, defensive lineman Josh McNary (69). Other potential standouts include defensive lineman Victor Ugenyi and defensive backs Jordan Trimble and Mario Hill. It will be interesting to see how they all perform in Ellerson's Desert Storm defense.

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