Coach Rich Ellerson wants to allow dual sports athletes the chance to compete in baseball and track. Ellerson believes that having practice earlier also gives his players a chance to complete a full cycle of weight training before summer break. The other benefit is that in case if a player is hurt they have a chance to heal before preseason summer camp begins.
Last year Rich Ellerson was faced with the challenge of teaching and implementing a completely new offensive scheme. Coach Ellerson expects to field a veteran team in search of its first winning season since 1996. However competition on the offensive side of the ball is wide open at many positions as the coaches look to inject more speed and explosiveness into the line up. Today we'll look at how the offense is shaping up.
Last year plebe Trent Steelman became the first Army freshman to start the entire season at quarterback. Steelman is firmly entrenched as starting quarterback. While coaches are working with him to improve his accuracy the battle here is for backup QB. With Chip Bowden out and recovering from off season knee surgery three soon to be juniors Max Jenkins, Jimmy Reitter and Taylor Hall are battling for position on the depth chart. Jenkins is the most experienced and has been praised by Ellerson. Reitter threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Brian Austin during the Saturday scrimmage. Taylor Hall, the son of Army star passer from the seventies, Leamon Hall, has received a lot of snaps early in camp.
Air Force transfer Jared Hassin has lived up to the hype and has established himself as the projected starter. The 6-3, 218 pound Hassin has shown himself to be a bruiser with good speed. Pat Mealy said of Hassin "Jared is going to be a great player. The defense is going to have to key on him. It's going to help the other backs be productive, as well as us helping him be productive."
With CeDarius Williams still recovering from being injured last year senior to be Jacob Bohn has shared most of the reps during the past week. Freshman Brad Gallik has left the academy so last years JV QB David Collins has been moved to fullback.
Soon to be seniors Pat Mealy, Jameson Carter and sophomores Lonnie Liggins, Kelechi Odocha and Brian Cobbs have seen most of the reps in practice. Mealy and Carter have still be the most consistent and are the first team backs. Liggins who played last year with a banged up knee looked a lot quicker in practice. However the injury bug struck again as he sat out Saturday's scrimmage. Kelechi Odocha, who played JV ball last year, has shown good speed.
Greg Cotton was moved from defensive back to slot back last year and the staff thought highly of him but he left the academy. So the staff reached over to the defensive side of the ball again and moved cornerback Brian Cobbs to slotback. Cobb, a former high school running back, can flat out fly. He's been impressive in practice. Brian Austin, another burner, was moved from wide receiver to slotback
He caught a 40-yard touchdown pass in Saturdays' scrimmage.
Army track star Alfred Mc Daniel who recently ran a Patriot League 60-meter dash meet record in 6.85 seconds is focusing on track but expected to play slotback again in the fall.
Davyd Brooks, 6-3 200, has been the star of practice so far. He is not a burner but runs precise routes, gets open and catches the ball. He's consistently beaten the Army cornerbacks. Austin Barr who at 6-4
has the size that offensive coordinator Ian Shield likes in his receivers has moved to the first team.
There is a lack of depth here. Kyler Martin , who was recruited as a wide receiver then switched to Mike linebacker last year, has moved back to wide receiver. Martin looked good against the scout team defense recently. Martin ran the 60-meter hurdles for the Army track team and brings some speed to the position. George Jordan a talented athlete has yet to make his presence felt because he's been hurt. Senior Mark Allen got wide got open for a sure touchdown in Saturday's scrimmage but Trent Steelman's pass was off the mark. Malcolm Brown has been moved from slotback and is getting a look at wide receiver.
While there are four returning starters, this is the most wide-open position on the offense. Jason Johnson is being held out of spring practice as he recuperates from off season surgery. Returning starters Zach Peterson and Seth Reed should emerge at center and guard respectfully. The real comer is sophomore to be Frank Allen (6-4 275). Allen has been a beast in one-on-one drills. Matt Vallanti a 6-3, 290 sophomore is a physical blacker who just needs more experience. Senior Mikel Weich has taken a lot of snaps with the first team. At tackle returning starter Anzee Merzi, who also plays guard, is ahead of Mike Mc Dermott and Brad Kelly.
Next a look at the Spring Practice- Defense.