August 10, 2011

GBK: Freshmen Making An Impact

Each year across the country, high school seniors make calculated college decisions on where they will attend school. Hopefully where they will take talents with the possibility of having an immediate impact on a program.
However, the reality is that there are so many variables that determine a freshmen's ability to make the 3 deep, let alone have breakout first year.

One of the variables that often works in favor of an incoming frosh is the roster of seasoned vet(s) at their position. And of course if you have a mass exodus due to graduation as Army experienced, the opportunities to play early could be greater.

... but even then, there are no guarantees.

But what was guaranteed this morning at 8:45am, was the Black Knights registering their 9th summer training camp practice.

GoBlackKnights. com caught up with a couple of the freshmen, who are looking to claim a roster spot, along with an assessment on how some of the other plebes, such as receivers, Michael Hudson, Justin Newman and Chevaughn Lawrence are coming along.

FB, Larry Dixon

One such plebe is fullback Larry Dixon, who is among the most physically gifted freshmen on the squad, as the Bremerton (WA) native is battling junior Dan McGue for the number two spot behind Jared Hassin.

"Dan brings different attributes to the table and I would say they are probably even right now," shared fullback coach, Joe Ross. "Larry is right there. He's very athletic... just inexperienced, but catching on fast. I expect all three of them to be in the game."

"All three have had a great camp, all three are playing excellent, playing physical and being dominant in the their blocking. We can't go wrong with any of the three ... so, we are extremely pleased with our fullbacks right now."

"It's going really good," shares Dixon on the subject of his progression. "The upperclassmen and b-backs have really taken me under their wings and really help me out a ton. I have nothing but thanks for them."

"They are really trying to get me up to speed as fast as I can so I can do the best I can, as fast as I can."

Although Dixon was hesitate to stake his claim on the depth chart, he knows that he is in the hunt for seeing the field this season.

"We don't have a definite depth chart ... they are still moving pieces around," he shares. "I'm kind of here and there and just go where they tell me to go ... I'm just try to keep my feet under me."

"I'm pretty sure that I have run with all the tailbacks, I've ran with Trent (Steelman) a little bit, Max (Jenkins) ... predominately those two."

DE, Jacob Drozd
Freshman Jacob Drozd has almost become a fixture as teh 2nd team quick defensive end in practice, as he seems to be locking down the number two spot behind Jarrett Mackey.

But Drozd is the first to admit that the transition, even come from prep school is a challenge.

"Things have been going alright. I'm still working to get up to speed with the Division I defense," he says. "It's been a struggle at time, but I've catching on with the scheme of the defense. I feel pretty confident, but I'm still getting there ... I'm not there yet and have a lot work to do."

The biggest adjustment according to Drozd is the speed of the game.

"At prep school, that was a lot faster in pace than high school and now this is a lot faster of a pace than prep school, so I am still adjusting to that," declares Drozd, who like all of his frosh counterparts, had to endure the traditional and grueling 12-mile road march back to the West Point campus ... which signifies the end of six weeks of "Beast Barracks".

"It was a lot of fun," said Drozd, who had second thoughts about his initial response, when asked asked ... Was it really?

"Not really," shares a laughing Drozd. "It was something we had to do, so we just buckled up."

But even enduring the march back and the growing pains of being a freshman football player, the 6-foot-3, 225 pounder is anxious about the prospects of the 2011 Army Football season.

"I'm very excited about the team and so far we are looking good," he states. "We are hoping that it's going to be just as good if not better than last year."

Others:

The Black Knights have done an excellent job recruiting three talented receivers into the program. You have USMAPS alumni in Chevaughn Lawrence and Michael Hudson, along with direct, Justin Newman.

The guys we planning to line up with would be Anthony Stephens, Davyd Brooks, E.J. Tucker and Jared McFarlin. That's in no particular order, but just the four that would kick it off for us.

It should be noted that last year's started, Austin Barr is still on the shelf.

But when it comes to Lawrence, Hudson and Newman, Coach Guyader had this to add. "They are doing well .... Chevaughn and Michael are further along just from their prep school experience," declares Guyader. "But they're really ... there's a phrase .... they are just plebes - just freshmen. And it's just tough physically from that stand point and again with Newman. His legs went pretty early - he's one of the fastest ones, but was running as one of the slower ones, although he bounced back a little today. It's just going to be a slower process with those guys, but all three have bright futures, but Newman has a little more work in front of time.

It has been clear through this morning's practice that a lot of guys have tired legs, because it's that time of the summer, which is inevitable. Needless to say the march back doesn't help either.

Clearly there are several other talent freshmen like Trenton Turrentine, Duran Workman, Michael Ugenyi, Marques Avery, Allison Holstein to name a few, who have an opportunity to make their mark early and Saturday's upcoming practice will be an opportunity for some to reinforce their status on the roster and others to cease the opportunity with the coaching staff, just in case they may have missed something.

With approximately 85% of the roster in place ... from the point of Saturday's scrimmage, Coach Ellerson and his staff will begin to formulate the balance of what could be the roster that will be traveling to Northern Illinois for the 2011 season opener.

Now that practices reaching a midpoint, march-back under their belts, most of the freshmen figured they could take a slight breather. Well, unfortunately that is not the case as classes start on Monday for the Corp of Cadets.

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