August 29, 2009

Wide Receivers will need to step up

When Rich Ellerson and the new Army coaching staff closed the 2009 recruiting class, one of the highlights of the class has been the talent sprinkled around at the skill positions.

Much of that talent has impressed during summer practice and has competed for early playing time. Such is the case with QB, Trent Steelman, who could open up as the starter, then there's Josh Jackson and Brian Cobbs who are running 2nd & 3rd deep respectively at the two corner spots, along with Malcolm Brown and Lonnie Liggins are making noise at the slotback positions.

At the wide receiver position, you have a talented youngster in George Jordan who will be counted on to play and contribute out of the starting blocks of his careers. "He will be in the mix to get into the game," Guyader shares with "He has very good ball skills, the ability to find the ball in the air, accelerate to go catch it, he's a big target, able to alleviate and get off the ground. He's extremely coachable young man, who enjoys working very hard and applying those things very quickly to his game. I think he has a chance to be a very solid player here."

But for the up a coming freshman, he doesn't have to carry the weight by himself, because there is a group of receivers, who are relatively inexperienced, with the exception of senior, Damion Hunter.

There is converted offense tackle and captain Ali Villanueva, who is still a work in progress, but at 6-foot-10, 283 pounds, adds a dimension to the offense, unlike very few if any receivers in college football today. "The group has made a lot of progress from the time that I got them back in January," shares first year receiver coach Andy Guyader, who is the man charged with getting this group ready and who had the opportunity to coach New York Giant Rookie receiver, Ramses Barden while at Cal-Poly.

"I think that Ramses was a unique talent, just in and of himself," shares Guyader, when speaking of the 6-foot-6, 227 pound wide receiver now with the New York Giants. "His combination of size, speed, work ethic, ball skills and hands … he was just extremely unique and who knows if I will ever get a chance to coach someone with all those skills.

Here we have guys who have those traits and building on those traits daily. Guys here like anywhere, and they have different strengths and different weakness. What's exciting here is how they respond to coach and feedback and incorporate it quickly."

Another player that continues to mature and has quality upside is sophomore Davyd Brooks. "He's another guy who is with the twos …. It would be Davyd and George, getting the majority of those reps," states Guyader. "He's also a young man that possesses some physical tools. I can say from coaching Ramses and Tredale Tolver last year, who was extremely fast, Davyd holds his in that regard. He's at place where he's getting a feel for the game, constantly. He did not play a lot of high school football … he's raw, but he's exciting player physically and possess a lot of things that you look to recruit.

However, Guyader did lose out one freshman, who happens to be one of fastest members on the team and that is 6-foot-2, 200 Kyler Martin. The speedy frosh is now working out with the Mike linebackers. Staff is evaluating his ability to make things happen on the defensive side of the ball. Ellerson really likes Martin's speed and the potential to make things happen from sideline to sideline.

As it stands now, the presumed starters will come from the trio of Hunter, Villanueva or Austin Barr when the Black Knights open up against Eastern Michigan.

The time is here for Guyader's inexperienced unit. But with the emphasis now on Eastern Michigan, it will be imperative that each one from this group step up eight days from now.

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