One of the architect's behind Arizona's "Desert Swarm" defense of the 1990s, Ellerson now faces the challenge of installing his unconventional and attacking scheme at Army – a challenge that is easier said than done when considering Army's current defenders were recruited to play in a 4-3 scheme. And while Ellerson remains confident in his ability to shakeup Army's current roster to meet the needs for his new defensive alignment, former Cal Poly defenders like Kyle Shotwell warn that the transition to the new scheme may take a few years to perfect.
"Realistically [coach Ellerson and his staff] could be able to put the defense in over the course of one offseason," said Kyle Shotwell, who now coaches linebackers for California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo.
"But I think the biggest thing is recruiting," continued Shotwell. "It's different from when you've been running something like a 4-3. I mean the players are going to be different types of characters… So that is what is going to take a longer time, the recruiting for those changes"
Fortunately for Army football fans there are no shortage of talented high school stars from around the country who possess the attributes to thrive in Ellerson's defense, and thanks to a late offseason recruiting push this past winter the Black Knight program looks primed to bring them on board for future campaigns. One of these talented and aggressive defenders in Lyle Beloney, a do-it-all defensive back from Seven Lakes High School in Texas. With sub 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash and a punishing will bent on taking on opposing ballcarriers, Beloney was one of the top defensive back prospects in the greater Houston area last year, and will take his talents to the U.S. Military Prep School before arriving at West Point in time for the 2010 season. I recently caught up with Beloney, and got the scoop on why this special young man chose West Point as his college destination.
Adam Nettina (AN): What was your recruitment like out of High School? Which school's recruiting you, which ones offered you scholarships, and why did you ultimately choose Army?
Lyle Beloney (LB): Recruitment for me out of high school was pretty good. Schools such as Central Florida, Kansas, Rice, Air Force, Ole Miss, and Army were recruiting me, but only Army and Air Force offered me a scholarship, while Kansas wanted me as a preferred walk-on. The reason I chose Army over Air Force is because I really liked the way they recruited me and they never tried to force a decision out of me like Air Force did.
AN: Did you notice any change in your recruitment from the old Army staff under coach Brock to the new one under coach Ellerson? Would you say the level of interest on the part of Army increased or decreased with the change in staffs?
LB: Yes I saw a significant change because when the new staff came they began to interact with me way more than just by letter but instead by phone, and when I went to visit the campus I got a chance to talk to the coaches and could tell that they genially cared about me not only as a football player but as a person.
AN: What does it mean for you to have the opportunity to come in and play for a coach with the defensive pedigree of a Rich Ellerson? Have you heard what your role might be in his unique defensive scheme? How do you think your skills translate to his defense?
LB: Just having the chance to play for a coach with his defensive pedigree is fantastic because I know that they will set us up to be in the right spot to make plays on defense. Actually when my dad and I were able to have a one-on-one with the staff the coaches that said they could see me at OLB because they love the way I hit and because I'm pretty big. [But] they could see me at boundary corner because I run a 4.48 40-yard dash at 186-pounds and they want a physical corner that they can blitz. I could also play safety because the coaches said that they love my will to go and smash someone in the mouth no matter how big or small they may be.
AN: What do your think your greatest strengths are as a football player? What part (or parts) of your game would you like to improve on coming into the FBS level of competition?
LB: I would say that my strongest attributes as a football player would have to be my leadership ability, my wreckless abandon with my body while hitting, and the smarts that I bring to the game - because you know this isn't a dumb man's game. The part I would like to improve on the most would probably be everything because I believe that you can always get better as a football player.
AN: Do you know what you'd like to major In at West Point?
LB: I would love to major in some form of engineering.
AN: Obviously, attending West Point is a different experience than most colleges. What attracted you to the military aspect of the school, and do you have any idea as to which service selection you will want?
LB: The reason I chose West Point is because I know that it will make me a better man down the road in my life. I currently have no idea what form of service I would like to join but hopefully something dealing with my major.
AN: Finish the sentence: The one thing Army fans should know about me is…
LB: The one thing Army fans should know about me is that I'm a hard working individual and will work harder than the man next to me for anything, whether it be in the class room, on the football field, or in society.
Adam Nettina welcomes reader comments and feedback, and can be reached at AdamNettina – at – gmail.com.