Rimington Trophy candidate Bryce Holland

Army’s Bryce Holland was among 63 players named to the Rimington Trophy watch list.

The award is given to the nation’s top center. Holland started all 13 games for the nation’s No. 2 rushing team in 2016.

Generally, returning starters automatically make the watch list. Holland is one to keep an eye on for the award.

Army’s quarterback-center exchanges were a major problem in 2014 and 2015 before Holland took over as the starter.

Holland and quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw had little if any issues with snaps in 2016. Holland is a listed as a senior but he has two more years of eligibility remaining. He missed the 2015 season due to a shoulder injury.

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Recruiting: Tennessee LB Ernst commits

Morgan Ernst put some serious thought into attending West Point and playing Army football after visiting the academy for Junior Day in mid-April.

One month after the visit, the Webb (Tenn.) linebacker made up his mind. Ernst committed to Army on Saturday.

“I was just tired of trying to run around and find all of these offers,” Ernst said. “The process isn’t very fun. At the end of the day, I figured out this is my best opportunity to be successful in life and college as well…It was more of a waiting to make sure what I was doing was right for me. I’ve been thinking about it for the last few weeks and talking with everyone around me.”

Ernst, who received a visit from Army assistant coach David Corley two weeks ago, is Army’s fifth commit of the 2018 class. He put up some impressive numbers as a junior, making 156 tackles, including 14 for a loss, six fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and two sacks. Ernst also rushed for 1,026 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Army is recruiting Ernst to play as a hybrid linebacker/safety. Ernst, who is 6-foot and 195 pounds, is currently a midfielder and face-off specialist for Webb’s lacrosse team, which is in the Tennessee state semifinals.

2018 commits (5)
LB-S Morgan Ernst, 6-foot, 195, Webb HS, Nashville, Tenn.: Posted 156 tackles as a junior.
CB Khalil Fleming, 5-11, 163, Northshore HS, Slidell, La.
QB Walter Harris, 6-1, 190, Northshore HS, Slidell, La.
DL Tim Kater, 6-3, 265, Steelton-Highspire HS, Steelton, Pa.: Brother of former Army tight end Kelvin White.
OL Drew Kraatz, 6-6, 240, Standish-Sterling HS, Standish, Mich.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

 

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Future schedules: Four-game series with future FBS independent Liberty

President Donald Trump’s commencement speech at Liberty University included Army football and a tease Saturday.

Trump listed Army as one of Liberty’s 12 football opponents for the 2018 season, its first as an Football Bowl Subdivision independent. The president said he may attend Liberty’s Sept. 8, 2018 game at Michie Stadium.

Liberty announced a four-game series with Army that extends to 2026. Army will host Liberty on Sept. 20, 2025 and travel to Lynchburg, Va. to play the Flames on Nov. 27, 2021 and Nov. 28, 2026.

2017 schedule
Sept. 1 FORDHAM, 6 p.m.
Sept. 9 BUFFALO, noon
Sept. 16 at Ohio State
Sept. 23 at Tulane
Sept. 30 UTEP, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Rice
Oct. 14 EASTERN MICHIGAN, noon
Oct. 21 TEMPLE, noon
Nov. 4 at Air Force
Nov. 11 DUKE, noon
Nov. 18 at North Texas
Dec. 9 Navy (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia), 3 p.m.
Dec. 23 (if bowl eligible) Armed Forces Bowl vs. Big Ten opponent, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas, 3:30 p.m.

2018
Sept. 8 LIBERTY
Sept. 15 HAWAII
Sept. 22 at Oklahoma
Oct. 6 LAFAYETTE
Oct. 20 at Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 27 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 3 AIR FORCE
Nov. 17 COLGATE
Dec. 8 Navy (site to be determined)
TBD at San Jose State
TBD at Duke

2019 
Sept. 7 at Michigan
Sept. 21 RICE
Oct. 26 at Temple
Nov. 2 at Air Force
Nov. 9 UMASS
Nov. 30 at Hawaii
Dec. 14 Navy
TBD SAN JOSE STATE

2020
Sept. 12 at Rice
Sept. 26 OKLAHOMA
Oct. 3 at Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 17 EASTERN MICHIGAN
Oct. 24 BUFFALO
Nov. 21 at UMass
TBD NORTH TEXAS
TBD at San Jose State
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2021
Sept. 4 at Georgia State
Sept. 25 MIAMI (OHIO)
Oct. 2 at Ball State
Nov. 20 UMASS
Nov. 27 at Liberty
TBD at North Texas
TBD SAN JOSE STATE
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy
TBD Wake Forest

2022
Sept. 17 at Tennessee
Sept. 24 DARTMOUTH
Oct. 1 GEORGIA STATE
Nov. 12 at UMass
Nov. 19 HAWAII
TBD at Wake Forest
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2023
Sept. 23 at Syracuse
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2024
Sept. 21 SYRACUSE
Nov. 30 at Hawaii
TBD WAKE FOREST
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2025
Sept. 20 LIBERTY
Sept. 27 at Syracuse
TBD at Wake Forest
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2026
Sept. 26 SYRACUSE
Nov. 28 at Liberty
TBD WAKE FOREST
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

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Future schedules update: North Texas games in 2018, 2019 off

Army and North Texas will be taking a two-year break for its original mutli-game series.

North Texas announced that it will no longer play Army in 2018 (West Point) and 2019 (Denton, Texas).

Army defeated North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl 38-31 in overtime last December after the Mean Green beat the Black Knights 35-18 in October at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights will play at North Texas on Nov. 18.

UPDATE: The Armed Forces Bowl, Army’s tie-in for the 2017 season, announced its game will be played on Dec. 23 and kick off at 3:30 p.m. EST from Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

2017 schedule
Sept. 1 FORDHAM, 6 p.m.
Sept. 9 BUFFALO, noon
Sept. 16 at Ohio State
Sept. 23 at Tulane
Sept. 30 UTEP, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Rice
Oct. 14 EASTERN MICHIGAN, noon
Oct. 21 TEMPLE, noon
Nov. 4 at Air Force
Nov. 11 DUKE, noon
Nov. 18 at North Texas
Dec. 9 Navy (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia), 3 p.m.
Dec. 23 (if bowl eligible) Armed Forces Bowl vs. Big Ten opponent, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas, 3:30 p.m.

2018
Sept. 15 HAWAII
Sept. 22 at Oklahoma
Oct. 6 LAFAYETTE
Oct. 20 at Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 27 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 3 AIR FORCE
Nov. 17 COLGATE
Dec. 8 Navy (site to be determined)
TBD at San Jose State
TBD at Duke

2019 
Sept. 7 at Michigan
Sept. 21 RICE
Oct. 26 at Temple
Nov. 9 UMASS
Nov. 30 at Hawaii
TBD SAN JOSE STATE
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2020
Sept. 12 at Rice
Sept. 26 OKLAHOMA
Oct. 3 at Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 17 EASTERN MICHIGAN
Oct. 24 BUFFALO
Nov. 21 at UMass
TBD NORTH TEXAS
TBD at San Jose State
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2021
Sept. 4 at Georgia State
Sept. 25 MIAMI (OHIO)
Oct. 2 at Ball State
Nov. 20 UMASS
TBD at North Texas
TBD SAN JOSE STATE
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy
TBD Wake Forest

2022
Sept. 24 DARTMOUTH
Oct. 1 GEORGIA STATE
Nov. 12 at UMass
Nov. 19 HAWAII
TBD at Wake Forest
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2023
Sept. 23 at Syracuse
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2024
Sept. 21 SYRACUSE
Nov. 30 at Hawaii
TBD WAKE FOREST
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2025
Sept. 27 at Syracuse
TBD at Wake Forest
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2026
Sept. 26 SYRACUSE
TBD WAKE FOREST
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

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Debate: Should Service Academy Athletes go directly to pros

I’ve covered the Army football beat since 2007 and have written multiple times on the interpretation and the policy for service-academy athletes to pursue professional sports.

Thought the policy put in place last summer was across the board the fairest for Army, Navy and Air Force. Athletes were permitted, as Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds did, to go directly into the pros and defer their service time or serve in the Ready Reserves. I’m told Air Force opted for its athletes to defer service. While, Army and Navy chose the Ready Reserve option. Mind you, each athlete’s request is on a case-by-case basis.

When Air Force released a statement during the NFL draft over the weekend saying its athletes would have to serve two years of active duty before requesting their release to turn pro, change was in the air. No pun intended.

Sure enough, Monday, with the Air Force football team in nation’s capital, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced the policy was returning to a previous status of the two-year active-duty commitment before pursuing pro sports.

Posted a Twitter poll Wednesday on the debate, 74 percent of the 302 voters believe service-academy athletes should be allowed to go directly to the pros, 18 percent said athletes should serve 2 years of active duty and 8 percent said athlete should fulfill their five-year military commitment before turning pro.

Received some opinions/views from my column that I wanted to share.

Here are readers’ takes:

“Each sport is so diverse and each has a different “feeder” system so each must be treated differently. Current DOD policy was for football only.”

“Only real and fair solution is for the DOD policy to allow them to play pro sports upon graduation with the legalized understanding that once they no longer meet an agreed upon requirement, whether it be making a roster, a tour card, a U.S. team), they serve their 5-year commitment without any buyouts or trade offs.”

“Missions of the service academies are to train officers, not to produce professional athletes.”

“Our recruiting efforts and subsequent national athletic recognition are being dealt a, “DEATH BLOW,” by this reversal of the recent DOD policy in the ever-increasing competitive college athletics environment. The DOD is establishing a recruiting ceiling, telling our coaches not to pursue the, “potential pro level” high school athletes. Our opponents Ohio State, Michigan and Oklahoma will NOT be telling their coaches such a message. Perhaps, we should offer the SecDefense and his entourage 50-yard seats at these games over the next three seasons. Maybe, then he might feel as Martin Dempsey did when he told Bob Caslen at one of our earlier gridiron failures, “Our cadets and the Corps deserve better!” A shot at a level playing field is all our athletes have ever asked. Now, we limit our recruiting by these arbitrary, poorly-informed DOD decisions. Imagine telling the Dean not to pursue and recruit our top high school scholars! Do away with the Rhodes scholarships for two years after graduation, no more Marshall scholarships, no more med-school opportunities…Newsflash to the SecDefense, some great high school athletes have very little interest in pursuing a “pro career” as an athlete. Injury and opportunity often limit these careers to just a few unpredictable years. The loss of these students in considering a West Point education severely weakens out West Point graduate program and product.” – Former Army football player

“It’s not like there’s hundreds of students who are “skipping out” on serving their country.  It’s only a few service academy students each year who have the God-given talent and the ability and chance to live out a dream.  Let these gifted kids do just that and take a shot at a dream!”

“The critics of allowing these very few athletes to participate upon graduation may not be aware that in today’s world of athletics, academy athletes are not the “blue chip” stars coming out of high school. Rather they distinguish themselves through their incredible resolve to improve their skill level during their tenure at the academy, which if recognized in light of their academy responsibilities, is to be applauded not demonized…A typical graduating class would number approximately 800-850 cadets. If by some miracle, four cadet-athletes were to be offered professional contracts in any of the major sports, we are talking about fewer than a half  of one percent of the prospective officer population per class. And even those potentially involved should be made to eventually serve our country in some capacity (militarily or socially) or pay the government for a significant portion of their “tuition” costs.
Therefore, I say let them pursue the dreams that they have worked so hard to obtain. Isn’t that what this country has always stood for?” – 1966 West Point graduate

“For the few that get the opportunity, let them go. Fewer will even make it. If they do make it, deferred commitment. If they make it permanently, then pay back the academy for the four years!”

“I would arrange for them to be in a branch that has a short Basic Officers Course after graduation so they can transition directly into the pros, but require them to serve their obligation in the Ready Reserve for a more extended period of time.”

“Yes, I think service academy athletes should be allowed to go pro immediately after graduation.  I also think they need to meet a significant service obligation where they would serve, let’s say, in the reserves during the offseason for up to ten years or so.  It seems to me the greatest return such athletes could make to the military would be to serve in the areas of recruiting and public relations for the armed services, their branch of service, their academy and their academy’s athletic teams.  Think of what value someone such as a Roger Staubach or David Robinson would add in such a role.  While few academy athletes would ever reach the pros, let alone the level of a Staubach or Robinson, any athlete good enough to go pro in their sport could be a quality ambassador that our armed services could significantly benefit from.” – 1979 West Point graduate

“The old grads will say: “Damn right, they owe the nation a 5-year military service commitments.”  The younger grads would probably gravitate towards letting the truly gifted athletes turn pro upon graduation…those are the two extremes.  So the best solution would be a compromise that would not make either side happy but perhaps more acceptable to both sides because it’s not an “all or nothing” solution, and that would be a 2-year commitment following graduation.  To the old grads, they’re not getting their “5″, but two years is better than none at all.  And to those who favor immediate entry into the pros, there should be some satisfaction in knowing that because these are truly gifted athletes a two-year delay should not be much of a problem to overcome -not for the “truly gifted” which are the quality of athletes that we’re talking about.”

“We’ve allowed athletes in various sports to pursue their dreams while on active duty through the “World Class Athlete Program” for decades.  Most of these athletes pursue “Olympic” type sports, such as running, boxing, swimming, rifle/pistol.  From what I understand, their full-time job while in this program is to train, practice and compete in their designated sport…and represent the Army when they compete.  I don’t understand what the difference is for someone drafted to play pro football, baseball or any other pro sport.  Why not let the few each year that could do that be part of the World Class Athlete Program with “duty” on the roster of whatever team drafted them?  If it’s OK for a runner and swimmer to do it, why not a football player?”

“It seems to me that a good compromise would be to allow cadets that have the opportunity to play professional sports to pursue those sports careers immediately following graduation with the understanding that they will complete their five-year active service obligation when the professional career is complete. Plenty of people join the Army in their late 20′s/early 30′s which is when most professional sports careers end. It may even provide the Army with better officers that have more life experiences. This would be a win-win for the military, the academies, and the cadets.” – 1997 West Point graduate

Let’s keep this debate going. Email your opinion to sinterdonato@th-record.com and I’ll post it on this blog entry.

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Future schedules: 2019 game at Michigan official

Army’s road game at Michigan, which was first reported back July 2015, is finally official.

Michigan released their schedules for the 2018 and 2019 season Thursday. And, indeed, the Black Knights will be playing the Wolverines on Sept. 7, 2019 at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich.

It will be the first game between Army and Michigan since Oct. 6, 1962 when the Wolverines won 17-7 in Ann Arbor. The two teams have met nine times, the first a 28-7 win by Army’s national championship team on Oct. 13, 1945.

2017 schedule
Sept. 1 FORDHAM, 6 p.m.
Sept. 9 BUFFALO, noon
Sept. 16 at Ohio State
Sept. 23 at Tulane
Sept. 30 UTEP, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Rice
Oct. 14 EASTERN MICHIGAN, noon
Oct. 21 TEMPLE, noon
Nov. 4 at Air Force
Nov. 11 DUKE, noon
Nov. 18 at North Texas
Dec. 9 Navy (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia), 3 p.m.

2018
Sept. 15 HAWAII
Sept. 22 at Oklahoma
Oct. 6 LAFAYETTE
Oct. 20 at Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 27 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 3 AIR FORCE
Nov. 17 COLGATE
Dec. 8 Navy (site to be determined)
TBD NORTH TEXAS
TBD at San Jose State
TBD at Duke

2019 
Sept. 7 at Michigan
Sept. 21 RICE
Oct. 26 at Temple
Nov. 9 UMASS
Nov. 30 at Hawaii
TBD at North Texas
TBD SAN JOSE STATE
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2020
Sept. 12 at Rice
Sept. 26 OKLAHOMA
Oct. 3 at Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 17 EASTERN MICHIGAN
Oct. 24 BUFFALO
Nov. 21 at UMass
TBD NORTH TEXAS
TBD at San Jose State
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2021
Sept. 4 at Georgia State
Sept. 25 MIAMI (OHIO)
Oct. 2 at Ball State
Nov. 20 UMASS
TBD at North Texas
TBD SAN JOSE STATE
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy
TBD Wake Forest

2022
Sept. 24 DARTMOUTH
Oct. 1 GEORGIA STATE
Nov. 12 at UMass
Nov. 19 HAWAII
TBD at Wake Forest
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2023
Sept. 23 at Syracuse
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2024
Sept. 21 SYRACUSE
Nov. 30 at Hawaii
TBD WAKE FOREST
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

2025
Sept. 27 at Syracuse
TBD at Wake Forest
TBD at Air Force
TBD Navy

2026
Sept. 26 SYRACUSE
TBD WAKE FOREST
TBD AIR FORCE
TBD Navy

 

 

 

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King gets his chance with 49ers

Andrew King finally received the phone call Sunday evening that the Army linebacker had been waiting for all weekend.

A member of the San Francisco 49ers organization asked King if he would be interested in an invitation to participate in the team’s rookie mini-camp starting Thursday.

King, a 2016 Army captain, replied with one word – “Absolutely.”

“I’m guessing they want me to play linebacker,” said King Sunday night. “I’m going there with an open mind and will do everything they ask of me.”

King had hopes of becoming Army’s first draft pick since linebacker Caleb Campbell in 2008. When King wasn’t selected among the 253 picks, he posted this on social media, “1 scholarship offer, scout team player, undrafted…time to do what I’ve always done #provethemwrong.”

Army was King’s only offer out of Flushing (N.Y.) High School. He was a scout-team linebacker and played some special teams as a freshman before starting the last three years of his college career.

San Francisco was one of six teams to send scouts to King’s Pro Day on March 10 at West Point. King will report to camp Thursday in Santa Clara, Calif. with practices following Friday through Sunday. Among the players that King could be lining up with are defensive end Solomon Thomas, the third overall pick of the draft, and linebacker Reuben Foster, San Francisco’s second-round pick.

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Recruiting: Michigan lineman Drew Kraatz joins 2018 class

West Point has topped Drew Kraatz’s college list since the eighth grade.

When Army assistant coach Tucker Waugh offered the Standish-Sterling (Mich.) junior lineman earlier this week, Kraatz wasted little time pledging to West Point. Kraatz committed to Army Thursday.

“I got offered two days before,” said Kraatz, who is 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. “I was pretty excited. My parents wanted me to wait until Friday so I could think about it. Why even wait because I was going to go here any way. My mind has been made up for four years now.”

What attracted Kraatz to West Point in eighth grade?

“I always wanted to have a career in the military,” Kraatz said. “They combine the career in the military with second-to-none academics and that just appealed to me.”

Kraatz is the first Army commit from Michigan since linebacker Elijah Anglin in 2013. Anglin attended Army Prep and will be a senior at Howard University this fall.

Army added a versatile lineman to its 2018 class. Kraatz started his sophomore and junior seasons on the defensive line and was a starting tackle last season.

“When I talked to the coach, he asked me which one I would prefer and I said, ‘it does not matter to me because I can do both pretty well.’ For what I hearing, I’m going to be playing offensive line.”

Kraatz attended an Army prospect camp last summer and was the named the top underclassman defensive lineman. The camp was Kraatz’s first visit to West Point.

“The campus was beautiful,” Kraatz said. “I saw the athletic facilities, the campus and heard more in depth about the academics. I was like, ‘I know for sure that I want to go here.’

Kraatz said he’s received interest from some Ivy League school and was on the recruiting list of Miami (Ohio).

“Army was the the first one to offer and they were my first choice any way,” Kraatz said. “I just love the camaraderie and the intensity that have going into game. It amazes me and I want to experience that.”

2018 commits (4)
CB Khalil Fleming, 5-11, 163, Northshore HS, Slidell, La.
QB Walter Harris, 6-1, 190, Northshore HS, Slidell, La.
DL Tim Kater, 6-3, 265, Steelton-Highspire HS, Steelton, Pa.: Brother of former Army tight end Kelvin White.
OL Drew Kraatz, 6-6, 240, Standish-Sterling HS, Standish, Mich.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Recruiting: Louisiana QB Walter Harris joins 2018 class

As soon as Walter Harris posted his commitment to Army on social media Saturday, a Navy assistant coach contacted the Northshore (La.) quarterback.

Navy planned on visiting Harris Monday prior to his announcement. The assistant informed Harris that he still coming to see plan to him.

“There wouldn’t be much that they could say to sway my mind,” said Harris, who threw for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 494 yards and six scores in 2016. “You can’t top a West Point education. Nothing beats a West Point degree.”

Harris is the Army’s third commit of the 2018 class and its second from Northshore High in the last four days. Cornerback Khalil Fleming, one of Harris’ best friends, committed Wednesday.

“We didn’t talk about (playing together in college) but now that the opportunity presented itself,” said Harris, who called assistant coach Mike Viti with his commitment Saturday afternoon. “Being able to do it with one of your best friends is the extra icing on the cake.”

Harris, who is 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, started researching West Point when Northshore coach Michael Bourg told his quarterback that Army was showing serious interest two months ago. Soon after, Viti offered Harris. Viti paid Harris a home visit Wednesday.

“At first, I never really heard of Army and I looked into them and I saw that they had a really good football team on the rise and then their academics are next to none along with a beautiful campus,” Harris said.

“Army told me from the get-go that they wanted me and they offered me on the spot. Navy has been kind of wishy-washy…I just talked to my parents and I was thinking to myself that there’s going to be no other institution in the country that can provide the education of West Point with a premier football team. It was just kind of a no-brainer.”

Harris enters his third season at Northshore’s starting quarterback this fall. He said, “100 percent” of Northshore’s offense is based on the read option.

“I feel the game is really slowing down for me,” Harris said. “I’m making decisions more effectively and efficiently and I’m going through my reads quicker and better.”

Harris said he will probably coordinate with Fleming their first visit to West Point soon.

“I know several people who have been up there and they said it’s probably one of the most gorgeous campus you’ve ever seen in your life,” Harris said.

2018 commits (3)
CB Khalil Fleming, 5-11, 163, Northshore HS, Slidell, La.
QB Walter Harris, 6-1, 190, Northshore HS, Slidell, La.
DL Tim Kater, 6-3, 265, Steelton-Highspire HS, Steelton, Pa.: Brother of former Army tight end Kelvin White.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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The most improved players of the spring were…

Chandler Ramirez began his college football as an outside linebacker and a special teams player as a freshman.

Coaches asked Ramirez to gain weight in a move to defensive end his sophomore season. The move didn’t work out as Ramirez couldn’t gain the weight required, prompting a return to outside linebacker this spring.

Maybe that was the right position and role for Ramirez after all. When asked which players improved the most this spring, Army coach Jeff Monken brought Ramirez’s name up.

“Probably the most pleasant surprise over (on defense) is Chandler Ramirez,” Monken said. “He didn’t play very much as a freshman. We tried to bulk him up last year and he couldn’t carry the weight that it took to play that position. He slimmed back down and had a really good spring.”

Ramirez will add depth behind senior Alex Aukerman this fall. Who else impressed Monken this spring? Here’s some players, who should the most improvement, according to Monken:

Fullbacks Calen Holt and freshman Connor Slomka: Holt, a sophomore, and Slomka, a freshman, took advantage of addition reps with Andy Davidson and Darnell Woolfolk, the team’s top two fullbacks, banged up and sophomore Cole Macek not participating in spring practice due to academics. Holt’s move from linebacker was a success. Monken said, “They (Holt and Slomka) were just a 1-2 punch…It was fun to watch those guys play. They were playing hard and really competing.”

Freshman defensive end Amadeo West: West has worked himself into the mix as a potential starter by getting bigger and stronger in the offseason. Monken said, “He went from being a freshman and he has really physically developed over the last three months coming out of the season and I’m really impressed with him.”

Freshman linebacker Cole Christiansen: Christiansen’s role may expand from his plebe year where he played in passing packages later in the season. Christiansen shined all spring and had two sacks in the Black & Gold game.

Sophomore right tackle Austin Schuffert: Schuffert solidified his place on the depth as Brett Toth’s primary backup. Monken said Schuffert, “really, really improved over the course of the spring. He’s not a starter yet and he’s not to the point where he can beat out those guys with all that experience but he’s had a nice spring.”

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.


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    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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