Feb. 12, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Army football was back on the field Tuesday morning for its first practice session of the spring season. Tuesday’s workout was conducted in helmets and shorts, and consisted of a walk-thru type pace as the coaches introduced the team’s practice routine.
The Black Knights will hold their second workout on Thursday morning.
• The four new assistant coaches all took part in their first practices. Todd Spencer and Tom Simi put the offensive line through their drills, while Wayne Moses and Mayur Chaudhari worked with the running backs and defensive backs, respectively.
• As is the case every spring, there were players trying new positions. Junior Gino DeBartolo and sophomore Brandon Schmidt, both quarterbacks last season, were working with the defensive backs and running backs, respectively.
• Sophomore Marcus Poling has been moved from running back to linebacker. He was working with the mike linebackers on Tuesday.
• Last year’s leading tackler, Geoffery Bacon, was rotating with the free safeties on Tuesday. Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires did not participate in Tuesday’s practice while focusing on academics.
• Junior defensive tackle Mike Ugenyi and sophomore defensive tackle T.J. Atimalala switched numbers. Ugenyi is now wearing No. 92, which his older brother Victor wore during his career at West Point, while Atimalala is now No. 93.
• Some notable absences on Tuesday were DB Marques Avery, OT Michael Kime, RB Raymond Maples, LB Alex Meier and DB Hayden Pierce. All five started for the Black Knights last season, but will miss the spring with various injuries.
• Evan Finnane, Ja’Quail Haskins, Clayton Keller, Lawrence Scott, Corey Watts, Scott Williams and Zach Williams will also miss the spring with injuries.
• While the depth chart is still a work in progress and very fluid, the offense did line up for some team work on Tuesday, looking at different fronts the team may see from opposing defenses.
• The first group along the front included returning starters Ryan Powis at center and Stephen Shumaker at right guard. The left side consisted of Zach Reichert at guard and Nick Bennett at tackle, while Dan Whitaker flanked Shumaker on the right side.
• Angel Santiago was with the first group at quarterback. Santiago is vying with A.J. Schurr, Cody Jackson and Kelvin White for the starting job in 2013. Larry Dixon, Stephen Fraser and Trenton Turrentine completed the backfield.
• The wide receivers all rotated with each group.
Offensive Coordinator Ian Shields
(Ref.: trying to replace Trent Steelman)
“There is never going to be another Trent Steelman at West Point. He was a one of a kind, he was truly an original. In a lot of ways, he epitomized when an Army quarterback should be – dependable, tough, competitive – he was all those things. That being said, we’re moving forward. There are some opportunities there for A.J. Schurr, Kelvin White, Angel Santiago and Cody Jackson. They are all really good football players. There is a fight at the bat rack this spring to see who is going to emerge. A.J. may have the upper hand because that’s where we left off last fall, but everything is in light pencil.”
(Ref.: if someone can win the job this spring)
“I’d like to have an idea at the conclusion of the spring as to who the guy is, and we can go that way into training camp. That’s hopefully, but definitely not definitive.”
(Ref.: the coaching changes on the offensive side)
“It’s really encouraging. We have some veteran coaches who have been around the block. The two offensive line coaches are as well versed as anyone in the country in what we do. They are extraordinarily experienced and gifted in coaching that position. You can already see the energy level they bring. Wayne Moses has a wealth of experience coaching the running backs, and has worked with some of the best in the business. That’s a great presence to have on our staff. Tucker (Waugh) is a phenomenal receivers coach. He’s been coaching our stotbacks, and did a tremendous job, but it’s a plus having him outside working with the receivers. Having Andy (Guyader) with the quarterbacks and fullbacks is going to be a great value to me. I can step back and see everything on a more macro level and be the offensive coordinator instead of wearing a bunch of different hats every practice. I’m really encouraged. I think it’s going to go well for us. We’ve already done some good things here recently, but I’m encouraged about the direction we’re heading. The ball is going to be distributed a little differently, and that’s probably healthy for us.”