August 12, 2011

GBK: Freshmen Making An Impact - Part II

When you say youth movement for the Black Knights, it is a combination of young players relative to their respective class (e.g., plebe), but also young in experience (or lack of).

GoBlackKnights.com will continue our look into this transition period for the Army program as the youth, especially the freshmen class continue to spring ahead.

Some of the same players that the staff was working with in the spring, who don't have a ton of experience are very much in the mix.

Men in the Middle

For example, in the interior line you are talking about Clayton Keller, Corey Watts, A.J. Mackey, Brian Zalneraitis and Broghan Carnes, Parker Whitten and Chad Littlejohn.

However, bringing up the ranks or in some cases, jumping past the ranks are freshmen like 6-foot-3, 250 Mike Ugenyi, younger brother of former Black Knights' captain, Victor.

You can also add the name Derek Sanchez, who played defensive end in high school, but is getting looks on the interior.

Also catching the coaches attention are Joe Drummond and Richard Glover, who comes from the prep school and brings some size by Army standards, where he dips the scales at 270 pounds.

Will those freshmen be ready this year? Well, the jury is still out, but they have still demonstrated that have a bright future in wearing the Black & Gold.

Manning the Ends

At the quick end position, "the man" is Jarrett Mackey, but pulling up the ranks as the #2 on the depth chart is USMAPS product, Jacob Drozd. The 6-foot-3, 225 pounder has caught the attention of Co-Defensive Coordinator, Payam Saadat.

"We really like him and he's going to contribute for us, in some way, form or fashion," shared Saadat.

On the other side (defense), it appears that Watts (Corey) and Keller will maintain that side, with little push if you will, from the youth movement.

The "Backers"

At the various linebacker position or more specifically at the Mike spot, there are several young players who are emerging in this roles. "There guys that we really like; Geoffrey Bacon, Mike Cermak and Duran Workman... I think all those guys are in the mix," declares Saadat.

If you take at look at the Whip position, there are four solid guys locking down the spot, lead by Zach Watts, supporting by seniors Bill Prosko and Justin Schaaf But then you add the experience of captain Andrew Rodriguez to the mix, you have a solid foursome that does not allow much room for any of the "youngsters" to prevail.

However, don't tell that to 6-foot-2, 200 pound frosh Julian Holloway who is not backing down. And although he was hurt for a bit and missed a couple of practices due to turf toe, has shown some promise.

Corners & Safeties

But the youth movement continues at the strong safety (Sam) and cornerback positions as well.

Over at the Sam linebacker spot, the number one seed at this position is sophomore Reggie Nesbit, who has had a solid spring. So what plebes are in the hunt at this position? That would be Hayden Pierce[/db] who is looking to pick up where he left off at the prep school, along fellow prepster, Lyle Beloney.

Another newcomer is direct freshman Addison Holstein, who has the range where he can play Sam, Free Safety or Rover.

Then you have freshmen L.J. Harris and Marcus Jackson, along with Marques Avery pushing seasoned vets Josh Jackson and Antuan Aaron, as well as Waverly Washington, James Whittington and Justin Allen at the corner spots. "Lamar Johnson Harris (L.J.) has really caught everyone's attention," shares cornerback coach, Tony Coaxum on the prep school product who happens to be close friends and next door neighbors (Milwaukee, Wis) with fellow plebe, Bacon. "he's really shown a lot and pick up on things and translate it to the field."

"Marcus Jackson has shown kind of the same things as LJ. We knew they were going to be something for us, but they really kind of elevated a little bit and really kind of separated themselves from the corner freshmen anyway."

One freshman corner who came in with tons of potential is Avery. However, he is still is playing catch-up compared to some of his peers. The 6-foot-1, 180 pounder from Pasco (WA) missed all but one game last year at the prep school and from a consistency/scheme/technique point of view, he is a step behind Harris and Jackson.

When you look at this talented group of plebes that have migrated to the Black Knights' program, it is safe to say as they have transitioned from the prep school and high school to Division I football they will make newbie mistakes. And as the team moves to the more 11 on 11 competition format versus the individual drills, they now have to process everything .... where you get yourself lined up, make the necessary adjustments you have to make with your stance, alignment, eyes and feet, where you then have to execute your job description at full speed.

The net of it all is that the Black Knights' staff have assembled a pretty impressive group of players, which bodes well for the Army Black Knights' football program.

With just 2 1/2 weeks left to prepare for their season opener against Northern Illinois, it is clear that the staff is at the point of formulating which players who will make up the "A" squad. Hence, as practice unfolds, those players will be receiving the bulk of the reps, but under Coach Ellerson, the personnel is always subject to change.

Saturday's upcoming scrimmage could allow some players to confirm what the coaches already know or perhaps send the coaches back to the drawing board on an particular player or two.

Others:

On the offensive side, GBK caught up with 5-foot-9, 212 pound freshman slotback Trenton Turrentine after Thursday's practice as he talked about his transition from high school to college.


On getting his legs back - post march back

"Yes, I got my legs back .... I've been in some ice baths {chuckles}."

On his progression

"Right now I think I'm about 2nd or 3rd team. It's still a learning curve and the starters ... well they are the starters and they are doing well. Right now I'm just trying to learn."

"Usually it has been me running with Max Jenkins, Dan McGue and Brian Austin."

"I've have exceeded my exceptions to tell you the truth ... I think I have done very well."

On his biggest challenge

"It's really been the mental curve ... just trying to learn where I need to be at the right time."

Eye Catching Teammates

"Definitely Raymond Maples. That kid is a beast. He's been working hard and he's been showing how it's done. On the defensive side, Steve Erzinger has done well, as well as A-Rod ... also Trent Steelman, he's done well."

On starting classes on Monday

"Class is class and I heard we have a quiz on Friday {chuckles}."

Saturday's practice starts at 2:30pm, which will consist of normal drills prior to an approximate 3:00pm scrimmage.

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