Calhoun high praise for Army backfield

Where does this year’s Army backfield rank in academy history?

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun gave an opinion at his weekly press conference before his team plays the Black Knights Saturday at Michie Stadium.

“It’s probably the best running team that they’ve had and they’ve had some pretty good ones,” Calhoun said. “You can go back and there’s been some years where they won a Heisman trophy, two or three and this is best running team that they’ve had both in the interior and the perimeter. The numbers bare it too.”

Better than Army’s 1945 national championship team with the backfield of two Heisman winner Glenn Davis, Felix “Doc” Blanchard and quarterback Arnold Tucker, a College Football Hall of Famer?

Different eras, I guess. Army’s backfield of Larry Dixon, Terry Baggett, Tony Giovannelli and Raymond Maples and quarterback Angel Santiago have helped the Black Knights to No. 3 national rushing ranking.

Calhoun said the Black Knights, “are the best running football team we have played so far this season and we’ve played some of the best running football teams in the country. Senior-laden especially when you look at the quarterback, a senior who has been there for quite some time, the fullback has played a lot of football and certainly the slotbacks have too, that would include one of them that it’s the fifth year that he is playing.”

An intentional shot at Navy, the nation’s top rushing team statistically? Probably not, right.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Recruiting update: Recruits remain loyal to Army

Army’s recruiting hasn’t shown any signs of being affected by recent news of an incident in January, who led to three minor NCAA infractions.

Spoke with John Carroll (Md.) DE Julian Meares, a commit, and Wilson (S.C.) kicker-punter Luke Carter and they both remain interest in playing for coach Jeff Monken. Here’s my story: http://bit.ly/1q2UgAe

Big recruiting weekend coming up with Air Force game on Saturday. Broken Arrow (Okla.) CB Markale Moses, a commit, will be in attendance for game.

Army coaches have been busy recruiting with a bye last week. They offered Central Catholic (Pa.) C Eric McAllister, Tyler Mabry, a tight end from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Bingham (Utah) CB Dominieke Jones and Crespi (Calif.) RB T.J. Brumfield within the last week.

Army 2015 verbal commitments

OL Jake Baumert, 6-3, 300, Lovejoy HS, Lucas, Texas
S Rashaad Bolton, 5-11, 205, Veterans HS, Kathleen, Ga.
LB Jacob Covington, 6-2, 215, Liberty Hill (Texas) HS
DE T.J. Jackson, 5-11, 245, Trinity Christian HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
S James Gibson, 6-1, 200 Westfield HS, Chantilly, Va.: Three-star recruit by Rivals. Voted top safety at Army’s second prospect camp in June.
CB Richard Hanson, 5-10, 170, Prince George (Va.) HS: Voted top cornerback at Army’s second prospect camp in June.
QB Kelvin Hopkins, 5-10, 194, Independence HS, Charlote, N.C.
CB Jaylon McClinton, 5-10, 185, Charlotte (N.C.) Christian HS
DE Julian Meares, 6-3, 219, John Carroll School, Bel Air, Md. Made unofficial visit to West Point and committed on July 17. Voted top defensive lineman at Army’s first prospect camp in June.
CB Markale Moses, 5-10, 164, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
LB Corey Sanders, 6-4, 215, The Woodlands (Texas): Verbally committed to Army at first prospect camp in June. Earned best linebacker at camp.
DT Tanner Sheffield, 6-3, 245, North Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga.: Verbally committed to Army on July 10.
RB Connor Slomka, 6-foot, 205, Pine-Richland HS, Gibsonia, Pa.
QB Troy Smith, 6-0, 185, Harker Heights (Texas) HS
RB Calen Taylor, 5-7, 160, Christian Brothers Collegiate, St. Louis, Mo.
DT Raymond Wright, 6-3, 265, Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, N.C.

Here’s a list of the high school players from the class of 2015, who have received an offer to play Army football.

Might be missing a few but a pretty solid list.

Offers
CB Roland Adams, 5-10, 202, Florence (Ala.) HS
S D’Angelo Amos, 6-1, 175, Meadowbrook HS, Richmond, Va.
TE Brion Anduze, 6-4, 225, Central Kitsap HS, Silverdale, Wash.: (COMMITTED to Arizona)
CB Aaquil Annoor, 5-11, 170, Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy: (COMMITTED to Furman)
WR Chad Artist, 6-3, 180, Logan (Utah) HS: Artist’s Hudl profile says he runs a 4.39-second, 40-yard dash. (COMMITTED to Utah State)
RB Jordan Asberry, 5-9, 165, Colerain HS, Cincinnati, Ohio: Navy and Air Force have also offered Asberry.
LB Colton Beebe, 6-3, 253, Piper HS, Kansas City, Kansas: Beebe has been offered by Air Force, Minnesota and Kansas. Made 159 tackles his junior season. 
DT Luc Bequette, 6-2, 290, Little Rock (Ark.) Catholic: Played junior season at Centennial High in Champaign, Ill. Also a center. (COMMITTED to California)
OL-DL Grant Branch, 6-3, 272, Montini HS, Lombard, Ill.
RB Dominick Bragalone, 5-11, 205, South Williamsport (Pa.) HS
S Jaxon Brown, 6-1, 181, Regis HS, Eau Claire, Wisc.: Brown has verbally committed to North Dakota State but Army still offered the safety.
RB T.J. Brumfield, 5-8, 165, Crespi HS, Encino, Calif.
T-DE Nick Buchanan, 6-4, 275, Dunwoody (Ga.) HS: Tulsa, Western Kentucky and Tulane are among the schools, which have offered Buchanan.
RB Jaylen Burgess, 6-foot, 210, Maryville (Tenn.) HS
T Christian Castleberry, 6-4, 270, Mesquite (Texas) HS: (COMMITTED to Arkansas State)
T-DE Nick Carmen, 6-4, 255, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix, Ariz.: (COMMITTED to Utah)
T-DT Nick Carnesale, 6-2, 260, Hammonton (N.J.) HS
T Tyler Carr, 6-6, 322, Southside (Ala.) HS: Carr is ranked the fourth-best offensive tackle nationally and the 30th-best player overall by Rivals. Has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Texas, Georgia and Nebraska among others. (COMMITTED to Auburn).
K-P Luke Carter, 6-1, 225, Wilson HS, Florence, S.C.
LB Dyson Chmura, 6-3, 212, Waukesha West (Wisc.) HS: The son of former Packers tight end Mark Chmura has potential to play on the offensive side of the ball.
OL Steven Clark, 6-2, 300, Brindlee Mountain HS, Guntersville, Ala.: (COMMITTED to South Alabama).
WR Glen Coates, 5-11, 172, Davidson (N.C.) Day HS: Also offered by Navy.
QB Austin Conway, 5-11, 165, Overland HS, Aurora, Colo.: Conway, a three-star football recruit by Rivals, has offers from Nebraska and Colorado among others. He’s also a highly-recruited basketball player. Indiana has offered Conway for hoops. COMMITTED to Wyoming (basketball).
K Jon Coppens, 6-foot, 185, Nolan Catholic HS, Fort Worth, Texas
DE Shawn Curtis, 6-3, 247, Ronald Reagan-Doral (Fla.) HS: Curtis also had offers from Illinois and Mississippi State among others.
DE Nick Czar, 6-3, 269, Highland (Ill.) HS: Former Army commit. (COMMITTED to Navy)
LB Trevor Darby 6-3, 210 Davidson (N.C.) Day HS: Navy has also offered Darby.
DL Jack Darnell, 6-3, 260, Champlin Park HS, Champlin, Minn.: (COMMITTED to North Dakota State)
RB Andrew Davidson, 6-2, 210, Emmaus (Pa.) HS
RB Charlie Davidson, 5-10, 200, Blackman HS, Munfreesboro, Tenn.
S Chuck Davis, 5-8, 160, Broad Run HS, Ashburn, Va.: Davis has received a scholarship offer from Wisconsin among others.
RB Taye Davis, 6-2, 225, Lebanon (Tenn.) HS
C-DT Tyler Davis, 6-2, 295, Waccamaw HS, Pawleys Island, S.C.
OG Pat DiCarlo, 6-3, 280, Foothill HS, Santa Ana, Calif.
CB Daivon Ellison, 5-9, 180, Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, N.J.: Second-team, all-state cornerback is the No. 27 prospect in New Jersey, according to NJ.com. Ellison top four schools are Boston College, Penn State, Rutgers and Syracuse. (COMMITTED to Syracuse)
C Josh Fannin, 6-3, 290, Mill Creek HS, Hoschton, Ga.: Fannin is ranked the nation’s 10th best center and Georgia’s 70th-best player by Rivals. (COMMITTED to Middle Tennessee State)
FB-LB Pena Fitisemanu, 6-foot,255, Kahuku (Hawaii) HS: Navy offered Fitisemanu before Army.
S Kyle Floyd, 6-3, 205, Humble (Texas) HS
DE Marques Ford, 6-4, 217, East Bay HS, Gibsonton, Fla.: Ranked the 14th-best defensive end and 48th-best player in Florida by Rivals.com. Ford has offers from Clemson, Wisconsin, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Duke, N.C. State and among others. (COMMITTED to Tennessee)
RB Jonathan Forrest 5-11, 202, New Rochelle (N.Y.) HS: Forrest is ranked the second-best overall player in New York and the 50th-best running back in the country by Rivals.
RB Coleman Fox, 5-11, 190, Salem (Va.) HS: COMMITTED to Virginia Tech.
S Clay French, 6-2, 200, Northview HS, Duluth, Ga.: French has an unofficial visit to West Point planned for July 21.
LB Eric Gallon, 6-2, 220, Jenkins HS, Lakeland, Fla.: Buffalo, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan are among the schools that have offered Gallon.
CB George Gbesee, 5-9, 170, Oakland HS, Murfreesboro, Tenn,
TE Jeff Gemmell, 6-3, 215, Heritage HS, Wake Forest, N.C.: (COMMITTED to UNC Charlotte)
TE Riley Gessner, 6-4, 225, Dunwoody (Ga.) HS: (COMMITTED to Furman)
C Michael Gomez, 6-foot, 270, Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill.
RB Evan Gray, 5-10, 228, Westfield HS, Chantilly, Va.: Voted best running back at Army’s second prospect camp in June.
P Cory Griffith, 6,-2, 210, St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland, Ohio
T-DE Devin Hannan, 6-4, 270, Belle Vernon (Pa.) HS: (COMMITTED to Towson)
WR KiAnte Hardin, 5-10, 160, Webb City (Mo.) HS: (COMMITTED to Minnesota)
WR Jaylen Harris, 5-7, 150, Steele HS, Cibolo, Texas
G R.J. Harris, 6-3, 260, North Florida Christian HS, Tallahassee, Fla.
CB Montre Hartage, 6-foot, 180, Crisp County HS, Cordele, Ga.
LB Hayden Haupt, 6-2, 210, Clovis North HS, Fresno, Calif.
RB Robert Heyward, 6-foot, 195, Calvary Day School, Savannah, Ga.
WR Tabari Hines, 5-10, 165, South Florence HS, Florence, S.C.: (COMMITTED to Wake Forest)
LB Kendrick Jackson, 6-1, 235, Haynesville (La.) HS: (COMMITTED to Arizona)
QB Issac James, 5-11, 183 Carmel (Ind.) HS
QB William James, 6-2, 206, Morgan Park HS, Chicago, Ill.
OL Radson Jang, 6-2, 250, Kamehameha HS, Honolulu, Hawaii
WR-CB Brenndan Johnson, 5-11, 170, Midway HS, Waco, Texas: (COMMITTED to Navy)
RB Jalen Johnson, 5-9, 167, Westview HS, Avondale, Ariz.
QB London Johnson, 6-foot, 185, Marlboro HS, Bennetsville, S.C.: (COMMITTED to Charleston Southern)
C Andrew Jones, 6-foot, 280 Unionville HS, Kennett Square, Pa.
LB Cole Jones, 6-foot, 210, St Xavier HS, Cincinnati
CB Dominieke Jones, 6-1, 170, Bingham HS, South Jordan, Utah
DE Milord Juste, 6-1, 242, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) HS: (COMMITTED to Florida International)
TE Christian Kelley, 6-2, 230, Mount Carmel (Pa.) HS: Kelley went on an unofficial visit to Army on June 17.
CB Lyrics Klugh, 5-11, 180, Byrnes HS, Duncan, S.C.
T Griffin Landrum, 6-3, 285, South Forsyth HS, Cumming, Ga.
DL Simeon Lane, 6-1, 300, St. Xavier’s HS, Cincinnati: (COMMITTED to Princeton)
LB-RB Noah Lazaro, 6-2, 215, Southwest HS, Lincoln, Neb.
DB Trey Lee, 5-10, 185, Thomas Stone HS, Waldorf, Md.
LB Gus Little 6-3, 224, Massaponax HS, Fredricksburg, Va.: (COMMITTED to Maryland)
DE Kirk Livingstone, 6-4, 235, Stranahan HS, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: (COMMITTED to Alabama-Birmingham)
DE Dante Lonardo, 6-2, 248, Bethlehem Catholic (Pa.) HS: (COMMITTED to Lafayette)
K-P Davis Luster, 6-2, 180, Montgomery Bell HS, Nashville, Tenn.
TE Tyler Mabry, 6-4, 245, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
RB DeAngelo Malone, 5-11, 185, Cathedral HS, Erie, Pa.
DT Thad Mangum, 6-1, 270, Christ Church Episcopal HS, Greenville, S.C.
RB Marcus Marshall, 5-10, 200, Millbrook HS, Raleigh, N.C.
S Andrew Martel, 6-1, 195, Foster HS, Richmond, Texas: (COMMITTED to Texas-San Antonio)
OL Mitch Mathes, 6-3, 280, Troup County HS, LaGrange, Ga.: (COMMITTED to Mercer)
C-NG Jamarion McBride, 6-2, 290, Hillcrest HS, Simpsonville, S.C.
C Eric McAllister, 6-1, 270, Central Catholic, Pittsburgh
WR Maxwell McCormick, 6-3, 193, St. John’s Jesuit HS, Toledo, Ohio
G Kyle-Malik Mitchell, 6-2, 295, Alcoa (Tenn.) HS
G Trenton Mooney, 6-5, 255, Lamar (Mo.) HS
CB Sammy Morrison, 5-11, 160 Gonzaga HS, Washington, D.C. (COMMITTED to Arizona)
NG Army Motuapuaka, 5-11, 285, Salem HS, Virginia Beach, Va.: Army is Motuapuaka’s first FBS offer. Father is first sergeant in Army. Brother is linebacker for Virginia Tech. Made unofficial visit to West Point on July 16.
DE Twazanga Mugala, 6-3, 215, Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, N.C.: (COMMITTED to Purdue)
DT Kevin Murphy, 6-3, 275, West Chester (Pa.) East HS (COMMITTED to UConn)
LB-FB Robert Muschamp, Darlington School, Rome, Ga.: A three-star recruit by Rivals, Muschamp is ranked as the 38th-best outside linebacker in the nation and the 41st-best player in Georgia.
DE Jalen Nash, 6-3, 235, SouthLake Christian HS, Huntersville, N.C.
WR Devin Nixon, 6-foot, 181, Viera (Fla.) HS
OL-DL Michael Owens, 6-4, 270, Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park, Ill.
RB Devine Ozigbo, 5-11, 230, Sachse (Texas) HS: Rivals ranks Ozigbo the 42nd-best running back in the class of 2015. Texas back has 23 FBS offers (COMMITTED to Iowa State)
G Ethan Palelei, 6-foot, 290 Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas: Brother, Evan, was a senior defensive end at Navy last season. Father, Lonnie, played for Steelers, Eagles, Giants and Jets.
LB Charlie Patrick, 6-1, 208, Mays HS, Atlanta: Patrick has named his top three schools. In no particular order, Western Kentucky, Appalachian State and Georgia State. (COMMITTED to Georgia State).
DE Michael Peoples, 6-3, 265, Agua Fria HS, Avondale, Ariz.
K Matt Philichi, 5-9, 175, Bellarmine Prep, Tacoma, Wash.
WR Christian Philpott, 6-4, 203, North Florida Christian HS, Tallahassee, Fla.: Georgia state 1A 200 and 400-meter champion also has offers from Wisconsin, Miami (Fla.), Iowa State, Maryland, Central Florida and Louisville among others. (COMMITTED to Georgia Tech)
QB Elijah Robinson, 6-1, 174, Montclair HS, N.J. (COMMITTED to Boston College)
QB Rashad Robinson, 6-foot, 180, Hermitage HS, Richmond, Va.
WR Donovan Rooks, 6-2, 185, Yuma (Ariz.) Catholic HS,
LB-S Mykhael Sanford, 5-11, 190, Daphne (Ala.) HS
OL Nelson Santiago, 6-4, 266, Oakleaf HS, Orange Park, Fla.: Also has offers from Cincinnati, Western Kentucky and Florida International. (COMMITTED to South Alabama)
LB Ben Schrider, 6-4, 225, St. Mary’s College HS, Albany, Calif.
LB Gabriel Sewell, 6-foot, 215, Desert Hills HS, St. George, Utah
DT Lausii “Boogie” Sewell, 6-foot, 305, Desert Hills HS, St. George, Utah: (COMMITTED to Colorado)
QB Jeff Smith, 6-1, 170, Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic HS: (COMMITTED to Boston College)
LB-S Aron Spann, 6-2, 195, Dorman HS, Roebuck, S.C.
LB Jacquese Steen, 6-foot, 230, Skyline HS, Oakland, Calif.
WR Brad Stewart, 6-1, 190, Benedictine Military School, Savannah, Ga.
DL Roderick Stoddard, 6-foot, 250, Hillcrest HS, Simpsonville, S.C.
WR Bryce Sutherland, 6-1, 186, De La Salle HS, Chicago, Ill.
OL Nathan Thacker, 6-2, 250, Lord Botetourt HS, Daleville, Va.
RB Alex Trotter, 5-8, 170, McCallie HS, Chattanooga, Tenn.
DT Tyree Turner, 6-2, 258, Stockbridge (Ga.) HS: (COMMITTED to South Alabama)
DL Josh Uluocha, 6-3, 267, Stafford (Texas) HS: Uluocha received his first offer from Army. Texas State followed up with an offer on same day. (COMMITTED to Texas State)
RB Quaide Weimerskirch, 6-foot, 200 pounds, Pace HS, Milton, Fla. (COMMITTED to Louisiana-Lafayette)
QB McKinley Whitfield, 6-4, 195, Spiro (Okla.) HS: Army is recruiting Whitfield, who was named the top basketball player in his area, as an quarterback and an athlete. Rivals ranks Whitfield as the 13th-best player in the state of Oklahoma.
WR Kielan Whitner, 6-1, 178, Mountain View HS, Lawrenceville, Ga.: (COMMITTED to Appalachian State)
CB D.J. Williams, 5-10, 168, Smyrna (Tenn.) HS: Toledo has also offered Williams.
QB Greg Williams, 5-10, 193, Steele HS, Cibolo, Texas: (COMMITTED to Texas State)
QB Arion Worthman, 6-foot, 200 University HS, Normal, Ill.
C Kendel Wright, 6-3, 280, Mountain View HS, Lawrenceville, Ga.
DE Will Yancey, 6-4, 240, Landmark Christian HS, Fairburn, Ga.
LB Christian Young, 6-2, 215. Hough HS, Cornelius, N.C.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Notebook: Alexander making progress at tackle

A month ago, junior Ryan Alexander was lining up as a starting defensive end, trying to sack Yale quarterback Morgan Roberts.

Now, Alexander is the one blocking and protecting Army’s  quarterback and opening up space for Army’s third-ranked rushing attack.

The shuffling of Army’s offensive line continues.

Army coach Jeff Monken said Alexander will make his first start at left tackle against Air Force Saturday at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights will play their fifth different starting offensive line in five games.

For more on Alexander, read my story here.

Monken said Tuesday that, “right now, Angel (Santiago) is probably going to be our starter,” at quarterback Saturday. That would be Santiago’s sixth start of the season.

Junior A.J. Schurr, “has had a really good week of practice,” Monken said.

“I think there’s things that we are doing in the offense that both of them are perfectly capable of being our quarterback (for) and things for each of them that they probably have the upper hand on one another, Angel with a set of things he does and A.J. with a set of things he does. We are not a two-quarterback system. We don’t want to shuttle in the quarterbacks. But, we are not afraid to put another guy in there. I would like to settle on a guy to start the game and let it go and see what can develop under his guide.”

Monken said junior safety Luke Proulx, who made his first start against Kent State on Oct. 18, was hurt in practice Monday. He hopes Proulx can play Saturday. If Proulx can’t go, senior Hayden Pierce would start.

Pierce has started 27 games in his career, including four games this season. He didn’t start against Kent State but he did see action as a reserve.

“He (Pierce) hasn’t played as well as we hoped he would and as well as he hoped he would,” Monken said. “Hopefully, he will (on Saturday).”

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

 

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Air Force week: Coach Monken presser

Army coach Jeff Monken spent a good 20-25 minutes of his Tuesday press conference discussing a January recruiting incident, which was reported by the Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette Saturday.

Monken defended his reputation, his football team and West Point during the media session. He addressed the three NCAA infractions, which occurred during an unsupervised trip on Jan. 25 to the Palisades Mall involving 20 cadets, including football players and recruits during a recruiting weekend.

The academy self-reported three minor violations: players giving host money to the prospects, providing transportation for other students or student-athletes and simulating game activity by having a state trooper escort the bus down the Palisades Parkway, which is a state law. Players drank beer and bought beer for recruits, Monken said.

A video clip is below. Here are some excerpts from a portion of the press conference:

“Everything that happens in this program is my responsibility.  We made errors as a staff in monitoring a bus trip to the mall and some of our cadets made poor choices, while on the trip to the mall. That’s my responsibility.”

Where we fell short was at dinner on Saturday night when we are with the parents, we sent the prospects and the hosts to the bus. They take the ride down to the Palisades Parkway, which is a 40-minute trip or so down to the mall. We stay in the building with the parents and eventually take the parents back to the hotel so when the guys arrive back on the bus, the parents, coaches and everybody are there waiting for them. On that particular weekend, unbeknownst to us and our fault for not being there, other cadets boarded the bus and went down to the Palisades Mall with them.

“We provided each of our hosts with $40, which we are permitted to by the NCAA. The booster money (which was reportedly used), I have no idea. I would love to see some booster money. We don’t do anything with money. There’s no money exchanged. We don’t come and say here’s some money for recruiting. It all comes out of a budget. We do everything on campus. There’s no extravagant meals off campus. We just don’t do that here. They went to the mall. They found a place to hang out. They ordered some beers. They drank the beer. They got back on the bus and they came back. It wasn’t just our players and prospects. That’s an NCAA violation. We self-reported that. There were more things that we reported. It wasn’t something we hid. We knew we did it. I didn’t forget the NCAA handbook on the way up from Statesboro (Monken was the head coach at Georgia Southern last season). I know the rules. It’s my responsibility to monitor that and have somebody in place to monitor that and it didn’t happen.”

“There was no attempt to hide it or anything. That (reprimanding and reporting the incident) was the right thing to do. It was wrong. They were punished by me. They were punished by the academy. They were punished by the academy at the highest level, the maximum allowable punishment for the offense. Some of them are still serving hours for that which happened in January.”

“Organization of the trip was done by our staff. We have a couple of staff members, who had been here previously on the staff with other coaches. I was two weeks into the job. We had very few coaches on staff. We didn’t have a support staff. I was in between meetings with prospects and interviewing coaches just trying to get a program going. There was something in place and there was an opportunity where we can go and entertain these guys. When I was a freshman in high school, my parents use to drive me to the mall so I could walk around and shop. It’s kind of along the same lines. We are going to give you a ride to the mall and we are going to give you 90 minutes, walk around and shop, buy CD or go to a movie if it happens to work out and we’ll pick you up in 90 minutes and bring you back. That’s what it was. Organizing that trip for entertainment, I don’t think that’s out of line with what other people do on recruiting weekends. Certainly, that pales in comparison to a lot of the entertainment that’s being done for prospects. We felt very comfortable that that was a safe and very innocent way to entertain our guys and give them the opportunity to see that there are places like that accessible to our cadets though it is a pretty good ride down the Palisades.”

“I feel like we dealt with it appropriately and I don’t think it’s necessary to come out and send a press release out about every problem that happens in a football program. We will have other problems. Where I was (Georgia Southern), we had problems. I didn’t put out a press release about every guy that got in trouble. Why? Whose business is it? It’s our business. Well, somebody took it upon themselves to make it everybody’s business. Think it’s coincidental that it happened this week? I don’t know. But, I’m not going to worry about it. It happened in January. I dealt with the guys in January and we dealt with it all spring. There was an investigation. The guys went through it with me and then went through it again as they went through the investigation and the punishment over there (with the Commandant). Do you want me to punish them again? That’s what people are asking me. I’ve already done that.”

“What’s right is punishing them, telling them they were wrong and reporting it to the academy, which we did, allowing them to deal with it, which they did and not putting their names out in the paper and drawing their names through the dirt, which isn’t fair to them. They are 20 years old.  Are they going to make mistakes? Heck, yes. How many 20-year-olds do you know that are perfect? We don’t have 4,000 perfect 20-year-olds here. We have human beings and they messed up. So we dealt with it. I don’t know why we need to report that to everyone in the world. You think it’s coming back to bite me on the backside. It’s not biting me on the backside. I hope we are bigger than that as a football program that one little piece of adversity, one road bump along the way is going to knock us off course and not allow us to continue, I hope not because the program is bigger than that. It’s bigger than the individuals that were involved and not all 20 of them were football players. Let’s move on.”

 

 

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October 27 practice blog

The Black Knights weren’t showing any signs of being distracted by the national recruiting news over the weekend.

Players were focused and fired up through the full-pads practice.

Being Air Force week certainly helps.

The coaches were also fiery. An offensive coach and a defensive coach got into a short exchange following a drill.

“We’ve been intense for other games,” senior defensive lineman Mike Ugenyi said. “But there’s nothing like playing another academy. Everybody starts to get wound up and everybody starts to make plays that pop up out of nowhere. Guys are really high-strung for this game.”

Monday practices usually focus on conditioning. But, coach Jeff Monken said he’s always started a game week following a bye with a full-pads practice.

“The speed picks up when you are in full gear and the intensity picks up when you are in full gear,” Monken said. “I think we certainly need that. We are not where we want to be yet as a football team and with these guys improving them individually as football players. I think coming out in pads helps us.”

“Enter Sandman” played through the speakers of Michie Stadium as the offense joined the defense for a live period.

Senior fullback Larry Dixon broke off a 35-yard touchdown run.

Kicker Dan Grochowski made a 40-yard field goal.

Army shuffled offensive linemen in and out. Coach Jeff Monken said the time off since Friday’s practice helped the offensive linemen get healthier. “We had some guys that didn’t practice last week,” Monken said. “I certainly would have liked them to practice. From Friday’s practice to today’s practice, they got a good 72-hour rest. Hopefully, that helped revive some of the legs and some of the aches and pains that our guys had.”

Freshman Tyler L’Hommedieu, who has given Army good looks as a scout-team linebacker, is practicing with the varsity (travel) team.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

 

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Interview: Coach Monken comments on recruiting incident

Army coach Jeff Monken answered questions after Monday’s practice about the recent news of an unsupervised January recruiting trip to the Palisades Mall with football players and recruits, which resulted in underage drinking and minor NCAA infractions.

Here’s the interview:

On the timing of the story and his reaction: “Take your own judgement on that and the coincidence of it. It’s something that happened nine months ago. We dealt with it appropriately and we dealt with it swiftly. Everybody was notified and we were certainly disappointed that it happened. We dealt with it immediately and these guys were punished both by the football program as well as the academy as the Supe’s (Superintendent Robert Caslen) statement says to the maximum punishment for the offense. It went above the level that it normally would to a high level of scrutiny.”

It certainly wasn’t something that was taken lightly. Every organization and every family, everybody faces adversity at some point in their life. You can either let it distract you and separate you and scatter you or if you really do have people in the organization that are committed to each other and committed to the organization you can continue to push forward and I hope our guys will choose to do that. I think they will.

On when he found out about the incident: “One week later and within one hour we had dealt with it. It took one week for us to figure out what happened and I addressed all of those involved. All 20, by the way, were not all football players. I’m not going to say a number (of football players). There were others. I found out a week later and we dealt with it within 60 minutes of finding out and the appropriate parties were notified at that time and the response happened immediately. There wasn’t any delay. There weren’t any attempt to hide it or keep it from anybody. Every time somebody gets in trouble in the football program, I’m not going to send out a press release. I’m not going to call you and let you know. It’s for us to handle the way we feel it’s appropriate to handle.

“A lot of people want to pass judgment about what should happened but most of the people don’t really know what happened. The report that came out publicly this weekend some of it isn’t at all accurate. What we can do about that is nothing. There’s an old coach that I once knew that said, ‘don’t get in a debate with people that buy ink by the barrel. They will always win. They will always get the last word.’ We stand by the way we handled it. We handled it professionally and we handled it sternly. I don’t know if there’s any more of a stern disciplinarian than I am.

“I handle punishment sternly but I also set rules and standards that are in place that are I think at the highest level of professionalism. We are all human beings. Sometimes, people make mistakes and sometimes, we make poor decisions. That happens. It’s my job to deal with when they happen and I did. There’s mistakes made on my part and on the part of our program just overseeing everything that went on. I had also been on the job two weeks, so it’s my responsibility. I’m at fault. It’s also one of those things if you really delve into what happened it’s not as egregious as it’s made out to be. They are 20-year-olds. Sometimes, we feel like we got 4,000 perfect 20-year-olds (at West Point) but we don’t. It would be silly to have that façade and that expectation. These are great kids but they are still human beings and sometimes we do some silly things.”

More on the incident and accepting responsibility: “What happened (the incident) was on a Saturday. It’s my fault for not having a better oversight of who goes and who’s on the bus. Again, I’d had been here two weeks and we had six coaches. We didn’t have a full staff. It’s something that had been doing for years and it’s a state law that we got to have a police escort. We got a police escort. It was a state policeman. We didn’t use any funds that were inappropriate. We are permitted to give those guys 40 dollars a day to entertain those guys. So when they take them down to the bowling alley, they can pay for their bowling shoes and their lanes and they can buy a coke and buy a pizza. If the guys go to a movie, they can pay for a movie for the prospect and themselves. That happens everywhere in the country. It’s the same thing everywhere I’ve been. You get post money. Everywhere I’ve been we’ve always had a curfew. When I worked for Paul Johnson, it was standard practice for Coach and at Georgia Southern we did too. There’s a lot places that don’t do that. They can stay out all night if they want.

“It’s not a problem until there’s a problem and I’m always concerned that there’s going to be a problem. That’s what this is so hurtful to us and me personally because I take a tremendous amount of pride in doing everything the right way with the respect that we have for other people and the professionalism for how we represent our program.”

On his reputation: “If I tell you all of the things that I do to make sure that we have a program of integrity and character not just here but the things I’ve done at Georgia Southern, I don’t know anybody could say, “the guy doesn’t do what he’s supposed to. He doesn’t do what’s right.’ I work hard at it. I grew up the son of two wonderful people. They were teachers. My dad was my high school coach. My whole family is coaches. We are in the people development business. The most important thing to me is just that developing people not winning football games. That always comes second to developing people and doing it the right way. It’s hurtful for my parents and my family to read those things about me, to see our program is coming under scrutiny and I do take a great amount of pride of representing West Point and myself as a man and my family. But it happened. We deal with it and life sends adversity our way so we deal with it. We respond we don’t react.”

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Superintendent responds to report on Army recruiting violations

West Point superintendent Robert Caslen confirmed in a statement a report by the Colorado Springs Gazette Saturday that 20 cadets, including football players, organized an unsupervised trip to Palisades Mall on Jan. 25, which led to underage drinking and other inappropriate behavior.

In the statement, Caslen said underage drinking by Army players and recruits occurred in a bowling alley within the mall.

Caslen’s statement said an academy investigation of the incident was completed on April 28 and found, “several violations of the cadet disciplinary code and NCAA rules, including inappropriate use of a police escort, misuse of NCAA recruiting host funds, cadet participation without class privileges and failure to maintain proper cadet accountability.”

Cadets on the team were found to have violated cadet code for, “unsatisfactory behavior, error in judgment, failure to perform a duty and a violation of the General Article for actions which reflect discredit on the Corps of Cadets and the United States Army,” the statement says.

All 20 cadets were punished and their cadet code case were heard by Brig. Gen. Richard Clarke, West Point’s commandant at the time. Cadets lost their rank among the Corps of Cadets and opportunities for leadership positions. They were also disciplined by the coaches of their sports.

The Gazette cited a report from the West Point investigation where it was stated that 14 football recruits traveled from West Point to the Palisades Mall on a chartered bus with a police escort. The report also stated that Lt. Col. Chad Davis, the team’s director of football operations recruited cheerleaders and women’s basketball and volleyball players to be dinner dates for the recruits.

According to the Gazette, Lt. Col. Shannon Miler, the academy’s investigator, wrote Davis told the girls, “We want recruits to see that there are pretty girls that go here. There are not just masculine women that attend West Point.”

The Gazette reported one of the players involved was starting quarterback Angel Santiago. Santiago was held out of Army’s spring game in April.

At the time, Army coach Jeff Monken said Santiago wasn’t playing due to disciplinary reasons. The coach said Santiago and two other unnamed football players were involved in a situation within his first few weeks as head coach in January. Monken did not specify the incident at that point.

“There was a deal earlier in the semester that we had talked to him about,” Monken said. “There was some criteria that we set forth that he had to do to earn a spot in the spring game and he didn’t get all of those things done so we sat him out today. Nothing major that we need to talk about.”

Caslen stated the academy self-reported infractions to the NCAA. The NCAA classified the infractions as Level III violations. Infractions vary from Level I to IV.

“The NCAA had no recommendations and added no penalties as a part of the reporting process,” Caslen wrote in the statement.

Caslen said in the statement, “two officers received general officer reprimands, were admonished by me as Superintendent, and were temporarily suspended from all football duties by the athletic director. Two coaches were officially admonished by the athletic director.”

Caslen addressed a couple other issues in the Gazette report, which also stated “booster money was handed across the bar and alcohol came back and cadets said they ordered ‘beer towers’ containing quarts of the beverage and allowed recruits to drink their fill.”

Caslen said, “cadet host funds were distributed in accordance with NCAA regulations, which permit cadet hosts to spend $40 per day per recruit. No ‘booster’ monies were involved in the event. However, the handling of the host funds by the cadet hosts resulted in NCAA violations.”

The superintendent said a, “54-passenger charter bus was escorted by a single New York State Police officer in compliance with state law that requires a bus to have a police escort while traveling on the Palisades Parkway. No military police escort was ever utilized. The investigation determined the police escort violated NCAA rules. We have discontinued this practice.”

Caslen also said, “the media report implied that football staff arranged for female cadets to attend the bus trip to the Palisades Mall. Preceding the bus trip to the Mall, athletes representing multiple intercollegiate athletic teams, to include women’s basketball, cheerleaders, and women’s volleyball, were invited to a recruiting dinner for parents and prospects on academy grounds. At the dinner, cadet hosts invited several female cadets to join the trip to the Mall. At no time did West Point arrange, ‘a dinner date with female cadets.’”

 

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Bye week chat: Rhyan England

In just two weeks at safety, freshman Rhyan England made a big enough impression on Army’s coaching staff to make his first college start at Kent State last week.

England, a first-team, all-state safety for Collins Hill (Ga.) High last fall, was running back through preseason camp and the first four weeks of the season. He showed quicknesss to the ball against Kent State in his college debut.

Caught up with England at practice earlier this week. Here’s the interview:

On the transition from running back to safety: “The hardest part about going from high school to here is the speed of the game and how physical the game gets. It’s a whole new defense so that makes it a little harder for me. I’ve always been more of a defensive kind of a guy. I think reading things are a lot easier (on defense), personally. It’s a lot easier to get the grasp of it just from that aspect. But, the game speed is a lot harder than it was in high school. With my teammates out here, it makes it a lot easier.”

On how much instincts play a role at the safety position: “A lot of it is instinct, but a lot of it is just watching film. Just knowing what they are going to do before they actually do it and paying attention what your assignment is and always doing what you are supposed to do.”

On getting playing time as a freshman: “I’m just thankful to have the opportunity first. I’m grateful to come to this school. It’s a very prestigious school. It makes it a lot easier always having people there to help me. My teammates are always there whether it’s on or off the field. It makes it a lot easier when they are doing their jobs and I only have to worry about my job.”

On waiting until he had a few weeks at safety before he started: “I think coaches made the right decision. I definitely had to learn the game speed and I had to get out here and practice what I was doing before they put me in the game. I respect them for doing.”

On starting: “I definitely take a lot of pride in it. I’m definitely joyful just to be out here with these guys every single day and working. I know we’ll turn things around and I can’t wait for it.”

On the vibe around practice this week: “We got to beat Air Force. We are really amped up. As long as we keep it up, hit the weights, learn our assignments and watch our film, we should be good. I think this team is ready.”

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

 

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Quick thoughts: Kent State

It takes a few days to process a loss like Army’s 39-17 setback at previously winless Kent State.

Another game lost in the fourth quarter. The third one this season (Wake Forest, Yale).

Another game where Army’s defense made an average quarterback look like a star. Kent State’s Colin Reardon threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns. Reardon’s previous season-high was 264 yards in the season opener against Ohio. He had thrown two touchdowns in his last four combined games.

Another game where Army’s offense couldn’t sustain a fourth-quarter drive.

Seen a lot of unexplainable losses in the last four years. This one ranks right up there.

Got the feeling that it was going to be a long day for Army when it settled for a field goal on its first drive. Cornerback Josh Jenkins made a nice read to intercept Reardon’s pass on the first play from scrimmage. Army needed to turn that possession, which started on Kent State’s 37, into touchdown. But, a holding penalty by freshman tackle Mike Houghton, who was making his first career start, at the 8-yard line stalled the drive.

Should Army start playing some man coverage against passing teams the rest of the season? Offenses are finding too many open spaces in Army’s zone. Reardon and Rice’s Driphus Jackson have combined to complete 69 percent of their passes against Army the last two games.

I’m all for a trick play. But, don’t think running back Joe Walker’s throwback pass to quarterback Angel Santiago was called at the right time. Army had a chance to answer Kent State late in the second quarter, trailing 13-10. Tony Giovannelli’s 12-yard run gave Army a first down at its own 43 with 55 seconds left. Army had all three of its timeouts so it could have tried another pitch or outside run, which were effective against Kent State. Army’s drive was helped when Kent State’s Malcolm Pannell was called for pass interference on a 3rd-and-10. But, the drive stalled when quarterback Angel Santiago took a sack back to Kent State’s 40 and tight end/quarterback Kelvin White threw up a Hail Mary which could have been caught.

A disappointing, second-half opening drive for Army. Santiago was dropped for a loss on the Black Knights’ first two plays. He could have pitched to Terry Baggett on one of the plays. After a short pass to Raymond Maples on 3rd-and-15, maybe the biggest play followed. Don’t think Connor Farley can be blamed for his snap, which hit off one of players in the punting shield. Looked like the player moved early causing the ball to hit his arm and carom left, gifting Kent State an easy scoring chance at Army’s 8.

Thought starting junior Luke Proulx and sophomore Tevin Long at the safeties over senior Hayden Pierce and sophomore Steven Johnson brought mixed results. Proulx made nine tackles. But, the coverage and tackling overall by the defense was once again shaky.

Still puzzled by the lack of touches for senior running back Terry Baggett. Just two carries for 24 yards against Kent State. Baggett had a 16-yard run called back by a penalty. He threw a great block on Tony Giovannelli’s third-quarter touchdown.

Lost in the loss were Jenkins’ 13 tackles, a very high number for a cornerback. Jenkins had 10 solo tackles. Only one other teammates, Luke Proulx (7) had more than four solo tackles…fullback Larry Dixon moved into fifth on Army’s all-time rushing list. Dixon now has 2,769 yards…Army’s defense forced Kent State to kick four field goals on possessions inside the red zone.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

 

 

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Pregame blog: Kent State

Homecoming game for 0-6 Kent State.

Army will only dress two quarterbacks senior Angel Santiago and junior A.J. Schurr.

Junior tight end Kelvin White would be the third quarterback if needed.

Army will likely start a new safety pairing. Junior Luke Proulx and sophomore Tevin Long are expected to play in place of senior Hayden Pierce and sophomore Steven Johnson.

Senior safety Geoff Bacon will miss his third straight game following surgery on his right leg.

Junior left tackle Drew Hennessy, junior wide receiver DeAndre Bell, who plays on special teams, freshman wide receiver John Trainor, are also out with injuries.

Senior Lawrence Scott, a running back, is now listed at wide receiver. Scott could fill in for Bell on special teams.

Freshman dress list: S Rhyan England, S Alex Aukerman; LB Scott Washle; LB Tyler L’Hommedieu; DE John Voit; RB Egbezian Obiomon; T Mike Houghton; DE Andrew McLean; C-G Bryce Holland; G Jaryn Villegas; G-T Trey Ratliff; WR Jermaine Adams.

For game updates, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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    Sal Interdonato

    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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