Army Football: 2003 Defensive line preview

Here's an early look at the Army defensive line for 2003. Army will experience a significant loss in terms of both size and starting experience from its group of five senior lettermen who graduate. A cohort of six rising juniors with at least some starting experience will return to compete with several other prospects to form the Army D-line in 2003.

Key Losses:

DE/DT Clarence Holmes, 6-4, 266 lb, 4-year letterman. Clarence had 22 career starts over the past three seasons and would have had more if not for minor injuries that kept him on the sidelines of some games. He played both DE and DT and finished his career with 11.5 career sacks. Clarence played in the East-West shrine game and his size and experience will be hard to replace.

DT Paddy Heiliger, 6-4, 272 lb, 3-year letterman. Paddy had 22 career starts and had 2 sacks and 6 TFLs in 2002. His physical presence inside will be missed in 2003.

DT Seth Langston, 6-4, 280 lbs. Seth had 5 career starts and provided quality depth in both 2001 and 2002.

DT Brian Horvath, 6-3, 283. Army's heaviest d-lineman was a 2-year letterman and a key reserve.

DE Alan Mazarose, 6-2, 243. Alan was a two-year letterman at defensive end and had 10 game appearances in 2002.

The Projected Starters:

DE Keenen Beasley, 6-3, 235, JR. Keenen is probably the quickest and most athletic of the returning d-line group. He had 4 starts in 2002 and finished with 4.5 sacks and 24 total tackles.

DT Will Sullivan, 6-3, 250, JR. Will had 3.5 sacks and 31 tackles in 2002. A two-year letterman, Will also had 6 starts in 2002, all but 1 at the DE position. I am projecting Will as a possible move to DT to make up for the significant gradution losses in the interior. Will was listed as a DT in the season's finale against Navy.

DT Trey Landry, 6-3, 280, JR. Trey is the biggest of the returning d-lineman and he saw his playing time increase as the season progressed. Army will have to rely heavily on Trey to plug up the middle of opponents' rushing attacks in 2003. He had 4 starts in 2002 and finished with 16 tackles and 1 TFL.

DE Odene Brathwaite, 6-4, 275, JR. Odene provides a great physical presence on the outside and he also has the most starting experience of the returning group. This Miami native had 11 starts in 2002 and finished with 28 tackles and 2 sacks. Odene could be an impact player on Army's d-line in 2003.

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The next group:

DE Mike Clark, 6-1, 235, JR. Mike logged one start in 2002. He will be needed to provide a bigger role in 2003 and he will likely see increased playing time as the first group rotates out to stay fresh.

DT Myron Toles, 6-2 245, JR. Myron will definitely be in the mix to push for a starting position in 2003. A little undersized for the interior, Myron makes up for it with his athleticism and tenacity. Myron had six starts in 2002 and had 21 tackles and 2 sacks.

DT Tommy Ryan, 6-2 260 SO. Tommy will have to develop quickly during the spring and into the fall to provide Army with the size and depth it will need in the interior. He appeared on the 3-deep on several occasions as a plebe in 2002, and he made two game appearances.

DE Charlie Felker, 6-3 235, SO. Charlie made a late season appearance on the 3-deep in 2002, and will likely see his stock rise as Army rebuilds depth along the defensive front. He is strong and athletic, and will be relied upon as part of a small nucleus of rising sophs on the d-line.

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Others in the mix:

DE Ryan Johnson, 6-1 235 JR. Ryan appeared on the 3-deep at times in 2002 and he will likely see field action in 2003 as a quality reserve.

DT Greg Isham, 6-4, 245 JR. Greg is a converted O-lineman who could bulk up to provide quality depth in 2003.

DT Seth Lotts, 6-3 260 SO. Seth is another o-line convert who made a late-season appearance on the 3-deep as a plebe. Count on Seth to see some quality playing time in 2003 and help provide depth inside.

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Overall Assessment: Army needs to keep the six returning juniors with considerable experience healthy and in the fold in 2003. The first group has the potential to be pretty good, but it will be critical to build depth behind this group. With no seniors in the mix, Army will be young in 2003, but more experienced than some of the young d-lines that we put on the field in 1997 and 2000. It will be important to bring in a number of plebes from both the prep school and direct admits to keep the pipeline flowing. With only 3 SOPHs on the roster, this group will need to be totally rebuilt after the 2004 season's graduation losses, making the 2003 plebe d-line recruiting class a critical recruiting need.

I do not project the 2003 d-line to be as good overall as what Army fielded in 2002, but the potential is available to prove me wrong if the players stay healthy and continue to develop.


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