August 18, 2009

New Black Knights Are Emerging

For many of the freshmen (direct or prep), having that first scrimmage under their belt is a sigh of relieve. It could be classified as their Division I football's rite-to-passage.

So with the scrimmage a few days past, Coach Rich Ellerson and his staff are now able to have a better feel for where the team is tracking and who some of key players might be.

For several young Black Knights, Saturday was the kickoff to their future and provided some indications as to who may be an integral part of the 2009 version of Army football.

Ellerson has made it perfectly clear that he will play the best players, regardless of class, as long as it puts the Black Knights in a position to win.

Just this afternoon, the Army mentor elevated freshmen quarterback Trent Steelman to taking the majority of reps behind center at Tuesday's practice.

Another freshman who has come out of the gate and turning head is cornerback Josh Jackson, who has worked his way up the depth chart and currently is second behind seasoned veteran, Mario Hill.

It is Jackson's aggressive play, as well as his understanding of the game itself that has help elevate his status on the depth chart. "Coach (Coaxum) has been talking to us in practice or while we are watching film and he says if you right there … take a chance at it in practice," Jackson says. "Like to today, we had a real good day at practice but I jumped the route today, but missed it by a hair. They really got to me … I'm thinking you got to try new things in practice and take the chance, so when the game comes, you know your limits. What I'm starting to do is working on doing a better job with each rep when I'm out there."

Jackson is quick to point out that at each stop, from high school, the prep school and now at Army, the coaching staffs have also added some value to his development.

"It started at high school, but at prep school I had some flaws and Coach Nelson did a great job in bettering my techniques," states the Georgia native. "Now Coach Coaxum is tuning up the small details in my technique and not just me, but all the corners. Each day we are going over our technique, so that it becomes second nature and we are all starting to get it now."

Division I difference? With Coach Ellerson, everything is quicker … he's a coach that demands a lot and expect a lot from his players and it's exciting to hear him talk and you know there's a promising future coming with this program.

Jackson is very enthusiastic about the Ellerson designed defense, which is build on explosiveness and speed. "The coaches are doing a great job making sure that we are masters of our technique and not only that, we hustle around a lot," confirms Jackson. "I talked to a lot of the upper classmen and coaches ….they said that this is the fastest they have ever seen practice. We are always running around and we are never sitting around watching a drill … we are always interacting."

Although not a speedster by time sake, the 4.6 forty corner has a philosophy on closing the speed gap that may exist between himself and an offensive player. "My high school coach tool me once that you can be a 4.6 guy, but play like a 4.3 guy if you know your assignment," shares Jackson. "I believe in field speed … game speed and I'm not the type person who will beat someone in the 100M, but put me in a game situation, I'm not going to lose … I have that mentality. Although speed is a big factor and I continue to work on that, but the thing I work on most now is my reaction time."

Despite his continuous development, Jackson is reluctant to take too much credit for his performance. "You come in with the mentality that you are going to be the number one corner, and I still have that mentality," says the 6-foot-0, 183 pound corner. "However, Mario (Hill), who coach Coaxum calls the grandfather because he's the senior … he helps me and I even help him on the field. Antuan (Aaron) and (Jordan) Trimble, they have been great in helping us (freshmen) get through this transition."

As it presently stands, Jackson is running second behind Hill at the field corner. Then you have Aaron and Trimble handling the boundary spot, with another freshman, Brian Cobb supporting Aaron and Trimble.

In the nickel package, Aaron will go in the nickel spot and Trimble will take the boundary and Hill remains at his field corner position.

Also another freshman corner who is performing well is Greg Cotton, who is also a product of the prep school.

As much as Jackson can't wait for the first game against Eastern Michigan to take place, he has marked his calendar for Army's home opener against Duke. "Actually my family is going to fly up for the Duke game, so I'm really excited about that … I receive great support from them," shares Jackson.

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