Army Incoming- The Special Teams

Last year special teams struggles may have cost Army a winning season and an Eagle Bank bowl appearance. Army needs to improve in all areas of the kicking, coverage and return teams if it is to avoid some of the costly mistakes that plagued the team last year. Today we'll take a look at the incoming Army special teams players.

With Alex Carlton returning place kicking looked to be a strength heading into the spring. However, Carlton, who last season had the worst game of his career against Navy, continued to struggle with kicking in the spring. Army's kickoffs were also not very effective last season. Matthew Campbell handled kickoffs and does not possess a very strong leg. He had 47 kickoffs with only one touchback. His often short kickoffs led often to the Black Knights giving up field position. One kickoff was returned for a touchdown.

Army's lone kicking recruit, Billy Fisher, might be able to compete as a freshman and help solve one if not both of these problems. Billy Fisher is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and was second team All-Ohio last year. Fisher connected on fifteen field goal attempts last year with a long of 42 yards. Fisher possesses a stronger leg than either of the returning kickers. At Canfield high school he produced longer and higher kickoffs than Campbell was able to deliver. Fisher averaged 62 yards on his kickoff attempts and chose Army over an offer from Air Force.

None of the kickers at USMAPS last year will be on this year's Army football team as kickers. No punters that committed were direct admits. Special teams coach Joe Ross mentioned that he'd rather not have a freshman return kickoffs and punts. Despite the lack of confidence there are a number of players who offer the ability to improve the return games if given the chance. The best kickoff return man at USMAPS was Bryce Flowers who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Flowers decided to not to attended West Point and will attend Western Carolina instead.

Among those who also returned kicks at USMAPS is Kyle Dravis. The 5-foot-9, 178 pound Dravis consistently proved to be a north-south runner on returns with good cut back ability and quickness. Raymond Maples is the most talented of the incoming backs and did return kickoffs in high school. Maples possesses the hands, vision and burst to be a very good return man.

Punt returns at USMAPS were handled by wide receiver Scott Williams from Orange Lutheran in California. Williams has excellent hands, body control and can make the first man miss but is more quick than fast. While Williams is a solid player he's not really a big play guy.

The coverage teams have struggled the last few years. Army's punt return teams allowed two punt return touchdowns and allowed ten yards per return . The main culprit has been the overall lack of team speed. Backup quarterback Chip Bowden was unfortunately injured when he was put on the coverage teams to provide more athleticism.

This incoming class from USMAPS offers a big improvement in overall athleticism than Army fans have seen from recent classes. The linebacker and defensive backs of this class especially should eventually help improve special teams with their tackling and improved speed over recent special teamers.

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