For cornerback coach Tony Coaxum, he has the ideal situation when it comes to the diversity of experience and depth with the guys who play on the island.
With Mario Hill, Antuan Aaron, Jordan Trimble, Josh Jackson, and Brian Cobbs, the 1st & 2nd units consist of a senior, sophomore, junior and two freshmen respectively.
It starts with the direction of Coach Coaxum, through the quiet leadership of "Grandpa" Hill, as he is called from time to time by the members of the cornerback crew and all the way down to freshmen dual of Cobb and Jackson.
With the season 10 days away, the unit itself is set and ready to go.
At the field corner (cover guy), senior Mario Hill is the man or as some previously mentioned, the old man.
"He's played a lot of ball for us," Coaxum shared in his interview with GoBlackKnights.com. He's done a great job embracing the new defense. For us as corners in general, and tell this to the guys all the time
our job is very simple, but difficult to do. Our concepts are simple, with us it's a lot of footwork and technique and just mastering that stuff. He's done a good job in embracing that and being aggressive and letting his natural ability come out.
He's the old man of the group and the guys call him grandpa
. I call him Thrill Hill, because he can make plays on the ball. But the guys rib him a little and call him Grandpa and Old man, but it's a term of respect. He's a quiet guy, doesn't say much, but leads by example."
At the Boundary corner, second year player Antuan Aaron has been consistent since he took over last season for the injured Jordan Trimble and he hasn't missed a beat. With the departure of Richard King from the competition, the battle for the starting role came down to Aaron and Trimble, who has made a full recovery from his knee injury from last year.
"I have the privilege of having guys like Antuan and Jordan Trimble, who I can flip a coin and either one of those guys can start at boundary," declares Coaxum. "It's kind of like I have three guys (Hill, Aaron & Trimble) that can start at those two positions.
Jordan has done a great job coming back off of his knee injury from last year. To me he looks even quicker than he did before he was hurt. He is probably the best tackler out of my group, perhaps on the team. He is just a hard nose guy and learned another position and is always in the right spot
you never have to worry about him.
Either one of those guys could be the starter, but Antuan has been the guy
he came in as the number one, basically not knowing where Jordan was, and Jordan has done a great job, but Antuan hasn't done anything to lose the starting job."
With Hill, Aaron and Trimble that gives us a lot of flexibility.
- Cornerback Coach, Tony Coaxum
There will be plenty of reps for both Aaron and Trimble, especially when the Black Knights convert to their nickel package. As such, Aaron will play the nickel back which basically takes the place of the rover and Trimble then goes to the boundary corner. This of course gives the Army defense more speed on the field against passing situations. In the nickel scheme, the Black Knights will have their three best cover guys in the game and they are all solid tacklers as well. "Jordan and Antuan are almost clones of each other, so having them both on the field is a plus," notes Coaxum. "With Hill, Aaron and Trimble that gives us a lot of flexibility."
WAITING IN THE WINGS
Backing up the trio of Hill, Aaron and Trimble are two new kids on the block, who are anxiously awaiting their opportunity. At the field corner you have Josh Jackson who is second on the depth chart behind Hill and at the boundary corner is Brian Cobbs, who will back-up the Aaron-Trimble combination.
"I was blessed to have freshmen come in and what I have been most impressed with is that they are not overwhelmed at the moment of being in college football," says an elated Coaxum. "They are confident and sometimes you get freshmen who have all the physical tools, but they get a little wide eyed that they are in college football. But they have come in with the attitude that they are ready to play and love going up against our better guys
they have that swagger and not afraid of the moment.
They are smart and have picked up on the defense well and they can play on both sides.
Look for both freshmen to cut their teeth in a various portions of our special teams and clearly they will be on the field in some capacity.
For the Black Knights, the athletic skill set is back there at the corner positions. The defensive concept that was in place before lead to more zone coverage, but with Ellerson's defense and the practices themselves, it will allow their natural ability to come out in players named Hill, Aaron, Trimble, Cobbs and Jackson.
Clearly, what Coach Coaxum, his group of corners, along with his coaching peers and all the players have experienced in practice, is what they expect to carry over in their opener against Eastern Michigan.
"The practices are not like anything I have seen before," confirms the former Army corner and West Point graduate. "It reinforces the idea of being an attacking team on offense and defense. The guys have embraced it and all the coaches and players are excited. Coach Ellerson has an uncanny way of motivating the players and a testament to him and his coaching experience. This is the type of thing that is going to pay off for us."
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