August 18, 2010

Inside the Huddle: The Freshmen Class

For many of the freshmen players across the country that have now been indoctrinated into the reality of college football and yes, college itself … it has been an eye opener. The game is faster, the players more physical, the schemes appear to be more complicated and where you were once "da man", you find yourself in a group of others who wore that same title at their respective high schools. If you are a plebe at West Point, you can add to that list of nuances that classes have started this week and trust me, no one will be taking "Basket Weaving 101".

So as the Black Knights move into the preparation mode for their season opener against Eastern Michigan, the dust has begun to settle and those freshmen players now know where they will be positioned to start off 2010.

Of course, every incoming freshman wants to make the traveling team and dress for the home opener, along with getting game reps. The reality suggests that there is still some more work to be done and for many of the Army plebes, that development will take place on the JV (B) squad.

Perhaps their first inclination is to view being assigned to the JV as a demotion, but on the contrary. This is where many of the current sophomores who will contribute this season cut their teeth. Adding to that development process will be a year under the S&C guidance of Brett Gerch and Kevin Shearer.

And let's not forget players like safety Ty Sharder, who as a freshman last season was called up from the JV to step in for Donovan Travis when he struggled through his ankle injury or Josh Powell, who continues to make a name for himself.

Yes, a significant portion of what the "B" squad players will experience is running scout team in order for the "varsity" to prepare for their next opponent. However, they must balance running scout with also preparing and playing their own schedule, which kicks off in September against Fordham University.

With approximately sixty-five freshmen on the current roster, it is impossible to breakout each player, but GoBlackKnights.com has provided insight to the progression of a few from this year's plebe class.

JV Bound

• When you look at the Black Knights' quarterback situation, Trent is Trent, Max Jenkins has had a tremendous camp and Chip Bowden is on his way back. So both [db]Matt Luetjen and Cody Jackson will jump start their Army careers with the JV squad. Jackson and Luetjen are both athletic quarterbacks and will battle each other for JV time and will benefit from the reps received during the season on the "B" squad.

• Like many plebes, defensive lineman Bobby Kough who performed well at the prep school is fighting through the after effects of Beast, but has quality upside.

• Speedy running back Scott Jones has been a little banged up, so look for him to get his feet wet on the JV squad.

• High school teammates and the wide receiver combo of Patrick Laird and Jared McFarlin are probably a year away from making their mark. Both players have the size and solid upside.

• Linebacker Corey Watts will look to follow in the footsteps of his brother and current Army linebacker, Zach, who took advantage of his JV experience last year and is making strides this summer.

Varsity Bound

• Direct admit Jonathan Crucitti is a really smart player and like Steve Erzinger, when the coaches tell him once and he gets it. The dual sport athlete will be on the varsity. He is playing one of the slots, but he knows both A & C spots and will see time on the special teams.

• This year's diamond in the rough player appears to be walk-on wide receiver Anthony Stephens. The proverbial question is where did this young man come from?

• Another receiver who has been impressive is J.R. Woodward. He is a fast and smart player and will add depth to the receiving corp.

• As previously reported, Marcus McInerney continues to impress and will see time on special teams as he looks to fight for game day reps.

• A name that we have been mentioned over and over is Reggie Nesbit and the Indiana native continues to impress. After a year under Brett Gerch and Army's S&C program, Nesbit stock will continue to grow.

• Like Nesbit, free safety Tyler Dickson continues to impress and will be pushing for playing time.

• Somewhat of a surprise is USMAPS product, running back Julian Crockett. He has impressed throughout camp and the 5-foot-8, 168 pound back has been an elusive pain in the backside for Army defenders.

Justin Trimble may fall into that "tweener" category as the staff continues to look for where the 6-foot-0, 200 plebe will best fit into the system and add value. There is a possibility that Trimble #3 will start the season receiving JV reps, but would be one call away from wearing the varsity Black & Gold.

• The heir apparent at center is USMAPS product Shelby Jackson. With the ascension of starting left guard Frank Allen (sophomore) and second team right guard Matt Villanti (sophomore), the offensive line depth continues to be a mixture of seasoned veterans and youthful talent.

• Then there's slotback Raymond Maples, who will contribute right out of the gate. And as he continues to grasp the offensive, his reps should increase accordingly.


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