August 6, 2010

Inside the Huddle: A look at the cornerbacks

Junior Antuan Aaron is back, but senior Richard King is really back.

The Contrast & Compliment

Aaron came into camp this week having started 18 straight games in the secondary. King came into camp having played in no games for 20 straight months.

That's an unusual daily double for two guys who will very likely open the season looking across the field from each other as starting cornerbacks.

King also has two years of eligibility remaining due to missing last season with concussion issues.

They are part of a unit that will be giving opposing teams headaches when they try and go to the air this season. One of the strongest units on Army's team, King's return only solidifies the group that has three starters returning.

For King, just returning is enough. "Last season wasn't fun,'' said King, who experienced two damaging smacks to his head in the spring of 2008. "Last year was miserable, sitting in the stands and watching all my teammates.''

A collision during spring practice two years ago was the first bell rung, and then he was clocked during a boxing class not long after.
It was no laughing matter. "They informed me that if I received another concussion that year,'' he said, "I wouldn't be able to play anything. Forever.''
So he sat, just as he did during a game in high school with the same condition.

Aaron has been more fortunate.

He has played in all 24 games since coming in from USMAPS. A fast, physical player, he enjoys playing receivers up close rather than giving them a head start. He has been in on 80 tackles in two years, has five pass breakups and one interception.

Conversely, King has played in a total of 12 games since coming out of USMAPS in '07. Used primarily a nickel back, he does have a sack and an interception. And he's quick. "I love making interceptions,'' King said, who made more than just one as a standout high school player in Houston, Tex. "I love defense. I like tackling, I guess. Hitting dudes.''

"King & Aaron are doing well," shares cornerback Coach Tony Coaxum, who is excited to have back the young-seasoned Aaron and the return.

"Aaron is very reliable and has played just as much if not more football than most of the seniors on the team. King is continuing to grow and impress. He is one of the fastest on the team and that is a big plus for him in the secondary."

The Army secondary likes hitting dudes, and breaking up passes. The Black Knights were ranked No. 3 in the country last season in pass defense, allowing an average of 152 yards per game.

In addition to these two guys, senior Donovan Travis returns at free safety (4 interceptions) and senior Donnie Dixon returns at strong safety. Depth in the secondary comes in the names of seniors Jordan Trimble, who can play any of the safety spots and prior to an injury is sophomore year, he started at corner. Then there's corners L.B. Brown (senior) and Josh Jackson (soph.) and safety Ty Shrader (soph.), who stepped in for Travis when he went down the last two games of the season.

"L.B. Brown is going to be a very key guy in the cornerback rotation," says Coaxum. "He possesses all the tools you need to play the position and now that he is healthy, he will help us. Josh Jackson will also factor in and play for us. I'm very pleased with the four of them (Aaron, King, Brown & Jackson) and feel they can hold their own in order to allow our pressure to get to the quarterback."

And as reported earlier, look for freshmen Justin Trimble and [db]Tyler Dickson, to be in the mix at safety, but also newcomers Brandon Porter and Jordan Crockett to try and make a name for themselves this summer - all four are USMAPS products.

"Both Crockett and Porter show a good instincts for the position," shares Coaxum. "They are little guys but know how to play the position."

Aaron and King have something else in common. Smarts.

King was a National Honor Society member and a student ambassador his four years in high school.

Aaron was listed in "Who's Who Among American High School Students'' as a senior in Dallas.

King, although no longer smarting from concussions, did acknowledge that he was a bit tentative in spring drills, "But I'm good now,'' he said. "I just needed to get back into the swing of things.

"As far as I'm concerned,'' he offered, "We're a Top 10 defense. We finished 16th overall in team defense last year and we only lost two people. With all the talent we have we should definitely be able to go to a bowl this year.''

"I'd like to have two rings on these fingers before I leave,'' he said. "Actually three. Including my class ring.''

- CB, Antuan Aaron

Aaron put it in more symbolic terms.

"I'd like to have two rings on these fingers before I leave,'' he said. "Actually three, including my class ring.''

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