March 3, 2010

Army Spring Preview: A peek inside the Running Backs

FULLBACK


While the fullback position is becoming an extinct position on a lot of teams in college football, but for an effective triple option offense, a smash-mouth inside presence is a prerequisite.


Last year this time, there were some legitimate question marks regarding the impact that CeDarius Williams and Kingsley Ehie would at the B-back (fullback) position. Both did an adequate job during the course of the season, but they were more "A" type runners than fullbacks. Ehie has since been moved to inside linebacker and making strides there.


Entering in spring practice, Jared Hassin, who established himself and confirmed his net worth while running scout team last year, while sitting out after transferring from Air Force.


The 6-foot-3, 230 pound Hassin, gets the nod at fullback and already has Army fans anticipating the 2010 with him as the man in the middle.


So the real question isn't about who is starting at fullback for the Black Knights, because that role belongs to Hassin.


When it comes to the backups, it will be an interesting battle between Jacob Bohn and CeDarius Williams for the No. 2 spot. "Jacob Bohn has had an excellent spring," says offensive coordinator Ian Shields. "I don't want to say a surprise because he's always been a consistent and good football player, with good instinct. He's not an after burning by any stretch, but he's a physical kid, he's detailed and he's good in the mesh. He's just a really good football player … he's not going to wow you with anything, but a nice compliment to Jared.


Of course, Williams who is probably still only 95%, brings game experience to the competition and that is something that cannot be readily ignored by the staff and he remains in the mix. "Yes, we still have CeDarius in there," Shields confirms. "Him and Bohny both are really 2A and 2B, they are both backups to Jared.


Also Kingsley (Ehie) has that B back background if we needed to, but I know thing we will need to."


With the addition of Hassin, opponents will be forced to paid special attention to the talented fullback. His presence inside will impact Army's game off tackle and the corners for slot backs, who will be looking for an auspicious start to the 2010 campaign.


SLOTBACK




As Head Coach Rich Ellerson and his staff head into their second season, the Black Knights' offense continues to evolve. Unlike last year's tradition fullback (b-back), and two slotback positions, where the customary resume of both slot back spots are that they are speedy and quick.
















The A is a little more physical guy and the C is the more in the space kind of slot guy.










- OC, Ian Shields











However, coming into spring practice there are some subtle job description differences between what is now defined as the A & C backs and may be relatively transparent to most fans. "The A is a little more physical guy and the C is the more in the space kind of slot guy," stays Shields, who also talked about the guns at the "A & C" slots.


There is no surprise that senior Patrick Mealy has opened as the No. 1 slot back (C back) and his running mate at the other No. 1 slot position ("A") is senior Jameson Carter. Mealy is a versatile and steady performer, who finished the season with 673 rushing yards. "Pat is Pat, and a good consistent football player," denotes Shields. "Has the background of fullback and can do a lot of things for us."


Behind Mealy you have sophomore Lonnie Liggins, who spent more time last week battling sickness than he did defenders. "There was a little sickness going around, which hindered Liggins in a couple of practices," confirms Shields, who is looking forward to the Sparks (Md.) native making some noise this spring, but also has the flexibility of having Brian Cobbs and Brown (Malcolm) around as insurance. "Cobbs can fill in that line as well and Malcolm knows that position as well. Lonnie is pretty consistent and no one can question his toughness."


However, before Brown takes anymore pitches from quarterback Trent Steelman, the coaches want to see what value he may be able to add at wide receiver. "We are taking a look at him for the week or so here, but that's not set in stone by any stretch," Shields says. "Malcolm may be one of our eleven best football players offensively. We don't want him to just be sitting behind someone and because we do need some more yards after catch than what we are currently getting outside at receiver."


"He may add some things there or just might be a part of what he does … and not a full time thing. It is something we are just experimenting with to see if that fits. If not, we know that he can come back in play the slot and Jamison is in the similar situation where they both have those type of skills where they can go inside and outside. In Malcolm's case he's young enough where the more we try to test his boundaries the better."


As it stands right now, Cobbs is backing up Carter and the staff is excited about his potential along with his speed. The 5-foot-11, 185 speedy back is similar in his skill set to Brown, but he is a little faster and probably the fastest kid out there at that position (slot).


Overall, there is some flexibility with this group and that is by design, which has built some quality depth.


NEWCOMERS




The staff has done a very solid job in getting commitments out of a host of talented backs. Hence, the competition will continue to grow at each of the running back positions.


However, it is so difficult for any true freshman to come in and have impact, but there are two or three backs that could make some noise as freshmen, where they can add to that depth and impact the position.


One such player is Prep school product Raymond Maples, who is a more than likely candidate to hit the ground running and will fit more into the "A" back role. That is where he will start once he hits the campus this summer. Playing that position also allows for Maples to receive the mentoring of Mealy.


Another back whose name has flown under the recruiting radar is speedy dual sport (baseball) prospect, Kurt Fleming out of Richmond (Va.) Christopher's High School.



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