November 26, 2010

Part I: Black Knights' talent in the pipeline

With twenty-four seniors leaving the program after the 2010 season, there will be plenty of room for the current group of freshmen on the roster to continue to make a name for themselves as there reps increased during the course of the season.

Although some of the current plebes, like slotbacks Raymond Maples and Jonathan Crucitti, along with defensive end Quentin Kantaris have already done that, they will have the benefit of winter conditioning along spring and summer practices to enhance their roles and responsibilities to increase in 2011.

In addition to the current group of youngsters on the roster, there is some quality talent coming in from the prep school. Some of whom may be able to penetrate and add value on the 3-deep, or even develop via special teams.

The graduation divide between the defense and offense is basically even. So let's take a look at some of the names that we feel will be in the mix to fill the void or at least add immediate depth on the three deep relative to the 12 senior departing on defense.

Defensive Line

From the current freshmen class, you will see the opportunity to compete early from players like Kantaris and tackle Bobby Kough. Kantaris has played in 8 games this season and should battle for heir apparent for Josh McNary's quick defensive end position. Although there is a strong possibility that defensive tackle Jarrett Mackey could be moved from his inside Bandit tackle spot to the quick role. But there will be plenty of time for that to be officially determined. Either way, the 6-foot-2, 220 pound Kantaris will be in the mix. Like many plebes, Kough was challenged to maintain his physical attributes after going the "Beast" and spent much of the genesis of his frosh year getting back on track. Once he receives the full cycle of S&C, starting this winter, he is a name that could become common place once spring practice kicks in.

Linebacker

When you start considering players on the second level (linebackers), you can begin with Reggie Nesbit, who has been moving in and out of the lineup, especially the latter part of the season. As Captain Stephen Anderson moves on, along with backup Kingsley Ehie anticipate Nesbit to be the frontrunner for that role going into the winter/spring. However, it's an open position and there are also some prep players that we will discuss later in this article, who are capable to push Nesbit and others. Then you have Justin Trimble at Rover linebacker. Both Trimble & Nesbit are still developing and have been prone to making the same lack of awareness mistakes, but those are freshmen mistakes that should be minimized going forward.

Another backer is Zach Williams, who cut his teeth this season on special teams.

Secondary

In the secondary or more specifically at the two safety spots (Free & Sam) is where the defense will be hit the hardest relative to graduation. The team will lose the trio of Donovan Travis, Donnie Dixon and Jordan Trimble. Losing Travis' instinctive center field play that has netted him 11 career interception, Dixon's ability to be effective in the secondary as well as blitzing off the corner and Trimble's overall athletic ability will be hard to replace.

Tyler Dickson is someone who will be looked upon to compete at free safety in order to fill the vacancy left by seniors Travis and Trimble … or even perhaps at strong safety (Sam) with the departure of Dixon.

In addition to Dickson, you have Matt Luetjen, who was moved from quarterback to the safety spot. Thomas Holloway is another player who will be given a look and has cut his teeth on the JV.

USMAPS

The other piece of the puzzle will come from the preps school and here are some names to consider.

Up front, Mike Ugenyi will follow his older brother and former Army captain, Victor to West Point after a year at the prep school. He could push for a spot on the 3-deep. Along with Ugenyi, Julian Holloway is a capable and upcoming talent.

As previously mentioned, the Mike linebacker position will be up for grabs. In addition to Nesbit, you have prepsters Geoffery Bacon and Brian Lucas, as well as Michael Cermak and A.J. Armstrong who could play the Rover; they all have played well. Also, Jay Jolliffe is someone to keep an eye on.

In the secondary there is Issac Winters and the very speedy Marques Avery. Also at corner you Lamar Johnson-Harris.

At strong safety there's Akintunde Akinniyi (aka Tunde)and at the free safety you have [db]Hayden Pierce.

You mix this freshmen and prep school talent, with the existing group of promising defensive sophomores like starting defensive tackle [db]Jarrett Mackey, back-up safety Ty Shrader, linebacker Zach Watts, who contributed this season, along with A.J. Mackey who saw his reps increase during the latter part of the campaign and you have a continuous pool of upcoming talent.

Of course it will be up to the staff that also includes the S&C aspect of the program to start bending and blending the young talent into a final product.

Yes, it will be a young Black Knights' defense in 2011, but if the youngsters can understand the details and execute they will only get better as group … get through next year's growing pains, the talent base is there to be a very good defense for years to come.


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