Army Incoming - Fullbacks and Slot backs

ARMYSPORTS.com continues to look at this year's incoming freshman class by position. The new fullback and slot back recruits reflect Rich Ellerson and this staff determined efforts to upgrade the speed and explosiveness of the program. Coach Ellerson has spoken about the desire of finding a slot back who produced a little "magic" with the ball. This class offers a couple of candidates.

Raymond Maples has the chance to be the best Army back in a long time. The 6-1, 200 pound Maples was overshadowed most of his high school career as he played in the same backfield at West Catholic with two FBS recruits. Despite limited touches Maples ran for 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. His senior year Maples averaged a remarkable 14.3 yard per carry as he racked up 1,639 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also was an outstanding defensive back.

Last year the Philadelphia native played fullback at USMAPS and was the offense's best player. Maples ran for 118 yards against Milford Academy. He scored three touchdowns while averaging 7 yards a carry against Stevens Tech. Against Valley Forge Maples ran for 174 yards. Maples was injured late in the year and missed the second half against Navy Prep but he is healthy and ready to go.

Maples is quick productive runner with tremendous vision. He has excellent feet, reads blocking well and runs to daylight. He has good acceleration in hole and the ability to change direction especially laterally at line of scrimmage. Maples is not a true burner but is able to burst into the open field. He runs much bigger than his size. He is a natural runner and has excellent balance after contact. He breaks a lot of tackles and has a good, forward body lean to pick up extra yards. He showed good hands in the passing game and is a willing blocker. Maples was used at fullback at the prep school but will probably be a slot back at West Point. The position shift to slot back will undoubtedly limit his carries early but he should contribute to the varsity this year.

Unfortunately the slot back at the prep school who exhibited that big play dimension Ellerson seeks the most was Bryce Flowers, a California recruit. However, Flowers decided that Army life wasn't for him and committed to Western Illinois. The well isn't dry however as other USMAPS players did impress last year.

Kyle Dravis was a very lightly recruited running back at Orange Lutheran High school. He was noticed primarily because Army recruited two other Orange Lutheran players, Scott Williams and DaVonte Anderson. Last year, at USMAPS, the 5-9, 175 pound Dravis consistently made plays at slot back. Dravis, who ran a 11.04 seconds in the 100 meters sprint in high school, is faster than you'd expect. He maximizes his ability, is durable, cuts well, blocks hard and is a big effort player. Against Stevens Tech Dravis had his usual all round game. He averaged over 5 yards per carry, had a 32 yard reception and delivered key blocks. On a 44-yard run by Flowers at the end of the first quarter, Dravis knocked down one Stevens Tech player, then got up, sprinted to the sideline, and blocked another. He can also return kickoffs.

Tiny Julian Crockett, 5-8, 168 pounds, did a nice job at slot back at the prep school. Crockett has good speed excellent acceleration and is very quick. Crockett, whose twin brother Jordan plays cornerback, can juke and elude defenders. Despite his diminutive frame Crockett did a good job blocking on the perimeter. Due to his small size sometimes he can get knocked around like a pinball but always bounces back for more.

Jay Tully from Franklin, Tennessee backed up Maples at fullback at USMAPS. The 6-1, 205 pound back exhibited a hard-nosed slashing running style. He scored on a 19-yard touchdown run against Hudson Valley CC at Michie Stadium. When Maples was banged up late in the year Tully stepped in and led West Point prep in rushing the last two games. Tully played both linebacker and running back in high school.

Only two direct admits, Scott Jones and Cameron Carter, took the oath on R-day. Jones reflects the upgrade in speed and athleticism that the coaching staff is looking to add to the depth chart. Jones is a running back from Florida who chose Army over a number of offers including one from Wake Forest. The 5-10 184 running back has excellent speed and acceleration. His senior year at St Joseph's academy in Florida he ran for 2,025 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has an extremely fluid running style and was always a threat to break a big play in high school. He has a chance to add a big play dimension to slot back with his 4.4 speed. Jones is versatile and played defensive back and recorded three interceptions his senior year. Carter is a two-way player from North Dakota can play either slot back or linebacker at Army. Carter, who is 5-10, 195 pounds, scored 28 career touchdowns and was named to North Dakota's All-State teams as a junior and senior.

Army lost a talented direct admit player who was a dual sport recruit just before R-day. Kurt Fleming, who was scheduled to play both football and baseball at West Point, was drafted in the eighth round of the amateur baseball draft and decided to sign with the Atlanta Braves organization.

Next: A look at the incoming wide receivers.

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