Santiago on starting against Buffalo

Senior quarterback Angel Santiago will start his second straight season opener when Army hosts Buffalo on Sept. 6 at Michie Stadium.

There’s been plenty of change at West Point since Santiago led Army to a 28-12 win over Morgan State last August.

The Black Knights have a new coaching staff and a new attitude under Jeff Monken.

Santiago says he’s changed. He’s matured. Santiago has more command of the offense this season.

“I definitely think I’ve improved as a leader more,” said Santiago, who has made 12 career starts, 11 last season. “I wouldn’t say I’m going to be doing anything different but I’m just going to be more of motivation factor for the guys. I’m just going to keep on them, keep them excited and ready to go for every snap and every single play.”

Monken chose Santiago over junior A.J. Schurr, who missed two and half weeks of the preseason with a hamstring injury.

“It definitely means a lot,” said Santiago of earning the starting job. “I’m just going to go out there and put the offense in the best position to score. That’s what they are expecting from me and that’s what I’m expecting from myself. Nothing but high expectations.”

Santiago will lead an experienced backfield. He’s been working with senior fullback Larry Dixon and senior Terry Baggett for the past three seasons. Santiago and Dixon were teammates at Army Prep before they arrived at West Point. Santiago helped Army rank third in the nation in rushing last year.

“I definitely feel like the entire offense has good chemistry,” said Santiago, who led Army with 10 rushing touchdowns last season. “I know I can speak for all of us that we are ready to go and we are excited to play against someone else other than ourselves.”

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

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August 29 scrimmage blog

What a difference almost a week makes.

After being outplayed by the scout team in a scrimmage last Saturday, the players, who Army will send out against Buffalo for its opener on Sept. 6, came out with a purpose on Friday night.

Army’s travel squad had a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. The offense consistently drove the ball down field. The defense did not allow the scout team to score a touchdown.

“I think last week we were coming off the first week of school and that was an adjustment for us,” senior defensive end Joe Drummond said. “It’s not an excuse though. We didn’t come out with the effort we needed. But, this past week, we really made a concerted effort to keep each other accountable and stay on top of each other in terms of energy and we brought that tonight. You could see that in our performance today. It was definitely a lot better and we are moving toward Buffalo really well.”

First-team offense: QB Angel Santiago; FB Larry Dixon; RB Terry Baggett; RB Tony Giovannelli; WR Xavier Moss; WR Edgar Poe; LT Drew Hennessy; LG Bryce Holland (freshman); C Matt Hugenberg; RG Colby Enegren; RT Todd McDonald.

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond; NG Richard Glover; DE Mike Ugenyi; LB Steve Ricciardi; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB John Voit (freshman); CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; FS Geoff Bacon; SS Steven Johnson.

Sitting out: The following players did not participate in the scrimmage – G Steve Shumaker; RB Raymond Maples; S Hayden Pierce; LB James Kelly; ; G Stefan Moreau; G Jaryn Villegas; LB Julian Holloway.

Offensive scoring plays: QB Angel Santiago 20-yard run; RB Terry Baggett 3-yard run; FB Aaron Kemper 12-yard run; DeAndre Bell 20-yard reception; QB Ahmad Bradshaw 3-yard run.

Defensive plays: S Steven Johnson interception (37-yard return), fumble recovery; DE Joe Drummond sack; Sophomore LB Jeremy Timp tackled RB Christian Reed for a 4-yard loss; Scout DE Robert “Roscoe” Jenkins two straight tackles for loss inside the 5-yard line on FB Matt Giachinta; Scout DE Jason Nix tackle for loss (nearly a safety) on A.J. Schurr.

Special teams standouts: Army hasn’t returned a punt for touchdown since 2007. Sophomore cornerback Josh Jenkins vowed to change that in the spring. Jenkins continues to show he can be a playmaker on special teams, returning a punt 38 yards for a touchdown against the scout team. He added a 25-yard punt return…Sophomore CB Tevin Long recovered an onside kick…Senior linebacker Steve Ricciardi lit up a scout-team kicker running a fake…Freshman wide receiver John Trainor made a tackle on a kickoff…Freshmen Khalil Harper and Nick Shiver teammed to block an extra point by Army’s second team.

Sights and sounds: Army simulated the start of a game, rushing onto the field. Captains Geoff Bacon and Larry Dixon went to the center of the field for the coin toss. Senior cornerbacks Marques Avery and Issac Winters were the captains for the scout team…The offensive line has three false-start penalties  early…Quartebacks A.J. Schurr and Ahmad Bradshaw were on the “hands” team as Army practiced an onside kick… Freshman tight end Nick Schebler made a nice 22-yard catch for the scout team. Junior A.J. Schurr completed a 41-yard pass to Xavier Moss to a 1-yard line (see video below)…Senior RB Trenton Turrentine powered for 16 yards on a physical run. Turrentine busted out for what would have been a 48-yard touchdown run. The whistle blew as the senior hit the 20-yard line with nothing left paydirt in his path…Turrentine also caught a 24-yard pass and took a good hit from freshman safety Michael McKenzie…Army baseball coach Matt Reid attended the scrimmage.

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August 28 practice blog

Bryce Holland entered his freshman season at Army with a goal in mind.

Holland, a center and one of Army’s top recruits from Chandler, Ariz, wanted to play in a game his plebe year.

Holland’s goal might be achieved earlier than he thought. Injuries caused Holland to move from second-team center to first-team left guard on Wednesday. On Thursday, Holland stayed about 20 minutes after practice to work with offensive coordinator and line coach Brent Davis on a position he had never played.

“Offensive linemen have got to be versatile,” Holland said. “They got to know every single position. You have to be ready to play at any time at any position on the line…

“I have great coaches and great teammates that have helped me with the plays and get all the knowledge that I needed to and it’s really helped out a lot.”

Coach Jeff Monken was high on Holland from the start of the preseason. Holland had earned a place on the travel squad already. Now with injuries to two-year starter Steve Shumaker and freshman Jaryn Villegas, could Holland be starting his first college game when Army opens against Buffalo on Sept. 6?

“Brent and coach (Bob) Bodine, they are working those guys,” Monken said. “They are both terrific football coaches who have been coaching in this offense for a long time. If anybody can get him ready, they can. But, I would love to get some of those veterans back that are hurt and get them back to full health.

“(Left tackle Drew) Hennessy has been nursing a bad foot and Shumaker has been out with a hamstring for two weeks. Stefan Moreau (Army’s first-team right guard) has been out and Jaryn Villegas has been hurt and he’s really improved as much as anybody on the team.”

Monken said of the 10 offensive linemen working with the first and second team Thursday, five were freshmen. Brett Toth lined up next to Holland at left tackle with the first team. Josh Boylan (left guard), Trey Ratliff (right guard) and Mike Houghton (right tackle) worked with the second team.

Position change: Senior Addison Holstein has returned to linebacker after a stint at tight end. Sophomore tight end Eddy Ruzga is back to practicing at full contact, which could have prompted the move.

The following players (not including the offensive linemen listed above) were among a group that didn’t practice in practice: RB Raymond Maples; LB James Kelly; RB Egbezien Obiomon; FB Aaron Kemper; WR Justin Newman; LB Marcus Poling.

Good news on the injury front: Junior fullback Matt Giachinta has returned to full contact. Running back Tony Giovannelli, who was wearing a blue (limited) jersey, participated in practice.

Sights and sounds: Freshman linebacker Alex Aukerman had three interceptions in practice, two against the scout team and one on pass in the flat by A.J. Schurr during offense vs. defense…Running back Tony Giovannelli caught a pass over his brother, Joey, a safety… Sophomore wide receiver Xavier Moss and senior cornerback Issac Winters were jawing back and forth after a play. Winters, who was playing on the scout team, appeared to take exception a block from Moss…Running back Grant Escobar, back on the team as a walk-on, made a nice one-handed catch on pass downfield…Army ended practice with 55-yard field goals by Dan Grochowski and Cale Brewer. Grochowski’s kick fell short of the goal. Brewer’s boot was caught seven yards deep in the end zone and returned by Jared Rogers…West Point superintendent Robert Caslan attended practice. Army Prep’s football team was also in attendance.

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

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Santiago to start against Buffalo

Army coach Jeff Monken said senior Angel Santiago will open the season as his starting quarterback when the Black Knights host Buffalo on Sept. 6 at Michie Stadium.

The decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Santiago started preseason camp on August 4 at the top of the depth chart and has worked with the first team since.

Santiago made one start his freshman year against Rutgers in place of an injured Trent Steelman. He started Army’s first 11 games in 2013. Former Army coach Rich Ellerson turned to A.J. Schurr for the Navy game after he scored four rushing touchdowns in the second half against Hawaii in the previous game.

Schurr, Army’s top quarterback coming out of spring practice, was sidelined at the start of the preseason with a hamstring injury. I don’t think the coaching staff feels like Schurr has had enough practice time to start. He began taking live snaps last week.

Comparing the quarterbacks, Santiago has worked with fellow seniors Larry Dixon and Terry Baggett in the backfield for the past three years. They seem to be on the same page along with senior running back Tony Giovannelli. Schurr looks fluid running Monken’s triple-option offense, which operates out of the shotgun at times.

Schurr is the stronger passer. Santiago doesn’t make many mistakes when he throws the ball. Schurr has thrown for three touchdown passes in his 43 career attempts. Santiago has two touchdown passes in 117 attempts.

Every practice is a competition on Monken’s team. My feeling is once the coaches feel that Schurr is game-ready he’ll be given an opportunity to play.

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

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Updated freshmen weights

The Army Athletics website updated weights for freshmen football players.

Here’s a breakdown of the players’ weights and what they were originally listed as.

One note: Freshman tackle Patrick Joseph is no longer listed on the team’s roster.

Offensive linemen: G Joe Tustin 302 (285); G Jaryn Villegas 294 (275); C Bryce Holland 265  (260); T Trey Ratliff 263 (275); C Tim Shover 261 (275);
T Mike Houghton 257 (218); G Mark Nordenhausen 255 (245); G Josh Boylan 253 (244); T Grant Kramer 246 (252); C Sage Baltrusaitis 242 (260); T Brett Toth 242 (265).
Defensive linemen: NG Andrew McLean 269 (240); DE Brennan Richmond 258 (230); DE Dan Carlone 244 (230); DE Jake Vaughn 244 (230); DE Jason Nix 237 (225).
Linebackers: John Voit 237 (215); Scott Washle 229 (215); Myles Brown 213 (223); Alex Aukerman 210 (205); Dan Davis 208 (234); Matt Sannella 208 (215); Garrett Sweetser 205 (215); Dennis Washington 205 (205); Bayle Wolf 205 (200); LB Tyler L’Hommedieu 198 (185); Justin Byers 195 (205); Dionte Reed 194 (200); Aaron Thompson 191 (205); Jordan Elliott 190 (215)
Tight end: Nick Schebler 235 (205)
Fullbacks: Corey Wilkinson 233 (220); Morgan Willcox 219 (227); Nick Shiver 204 (200)
Running backs: Egbezien Obiomon 202 (195); Marcelino Christie 188 (180); Rhyan England 186 (180); Jake Taylor 179 (170); Nehemiah Brown 170 (180); Alex Turner 155 (170); Christian Reed 146 (160).
Quarterbacks: Seth Gonzalez 204 (190); QB Ahmad Bradshaw 196 (190); kado Brown 191 (180)
Wide receivers: Jermaine Adams 199 (195); Jeff Ejekam 190 (200); Dylan Eddy 190 (180); John Trainor 179 (175)
Defensive backs: S Blake Goddard 193 (206); S Zach Trainor 187 (180); S Chris Zook 182 (180); S Brandon Barnes 172 (185)
Specialists: P Tim Garner 212 (220); K Jonathan Kim 188 (170); LS Clay Barton 176 (190); K Blake Wilson 137 (140)

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August 25 practice blog

Army didn’t start its offensive or defensive portions of practice until every player did 90 up-downs for the team’s graded effort in Saturday’s scrimmage.

The offense completed its punishment on Howze Field and were given a short break midway through. While, the defense finished its up-downs at Michie Stadium. Punters, kickers and long snappers also were required to complete the up-downs.

Good news on the injury front: First-team tackles Drew Hennessy and Todd McDonald were back practicing after missing Saturday’s scrimmage and practice time last week. Hennessy and McDonald both wore “limited” blue jersey but participate in their share of snaps during the practice. Players wore just helmets and shoulder pads at practice, which gave the tackles more opportunities to return to the first team…Senior fullback Larry Dixon practiced fully after not participating in the scrimmage.

Among the group of players, who didn’t practice, were: G Steve Shumaker; G Stefan Moreau; RB Tony Giovannelli; FB Matt Giachinta; FB Aaron Kemper; LB James Kelly; LB Julian Holloway.

First-team offense: QB Angel Santiago; FB Larry Dixon; RB Terry Baggett; RBs Joe Walker/Raymond Maples; WR Xavier Moss; WR DeAndre Bell; LT Drew Hennessy/Corey Hobbs; LG Jaryn Villegas; C Matt Hugenberg; RG Colby Enegren; RT Todd McDonald.

Second-team backfield and offensive line: QB A.J. Schurr; FB PaulAndrew Rhoden; RB Trenton Turrentine; RBs Elijah St. Hilaire; LT Mike Houghton; LG O.J. Hall; C Bryce Holland; RG Josh Boylan; RT Wyatt Wilkerson.

Senior DE Mike Ugenyi on Saturday’s scrimmage: “It was definitely an eye opener. With all of the injuries, it’s easy to make excuses and say, ‘that guy is not here, this guy isn’t playing. That’s why we are playing like this.’ But even if  a guy goes down, the second or third string guy should be ready. We should never skip a beat because one, two, three, four, five or how many men (are injured). The ship keeps going. We have to pick it up. Today (Monday) was better on defense getting to ball, making noise, playing through being tired and being hurt. Everybody did good today and we have to keep that going.”

Sights and sounds: Quarterback Angel Santiago, tight end Kelvin White and safety Hayden Pierce were sent for lap around the practice field for their role in a fight that broke out during scrimmage-like conditions late in practice. Santiago completed a short pass to White and immediately rushed toward his tight end. Pushing and shoving ensued after the whistle…First-team nose guard Richard Glover was wearing a blue limited jersey and was able to participate in some snaps during scrimmage-like conditions… Offensive coordinator Brent Davis, who is also the team’s offensive line coach, spent time after practice working with freshman guard Jaryn Villegas…LB Andrew King had a sack of freshman quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw during an offense vs. defense period…True freshmen Alex Aukerman is moving up the depth chart. Aukerman received second-team snaps at linebacker. When first-string linebacker Stephen Ricciardi was banged during the offense vs. defense period late in practice, Aukerman jumped in…Quarterback Angel Santiago connected with tight end Addison Holstein on a long pass over the middle. Holstein was wide open due to a missed coverage by the second-team defense…Running back Joe Walker tipped a pass to himself for a completion near the sideline…First time I’ve seen freshman CB Khalil Harper at practice.

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

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August 23 scrimmage blog

Coach Jeff Monken was very unhappy with his top teams’ play in a two-hour situational scrimmage Saturday morning.

Monken said, “there’s a lot of concern” on offense, defense and special teams.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Monken said. “We didn’t play with passion. We had busted assignments, missed tackles and missed blocks, ran the wrong routes and didn’t line up where we were supposed to.”

Monken took the blame for all of the above. He said he has to do a better job of getting his team ready to practice.

For most of the scrimmage, the first and second-team Army offense went up against the scout-team defense and the first and second-team defense tried to stop the scout-team offense.

Senior quarterback Angel Santiago led the first-team offense on its opening drive inside the scout-team 5-yard line. Senior running back Terry Baggett was stopped for no gain on 3rd-and-goal from the 1.  Army sent on the kicking team and junior Dan Grochowski made a 19-yard field goal.

The scout-team offense started inside Army’s 20-yard line during the scrimmage. Sophomore quarterback Matt Kaufmann hit freshman running back Rhyan England with a short pass. England picked up 10 yards after the catch for a 16-yard play. Freshman running back Nehemiah Brown scored from 1-yard out.

Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr took snaps with the second team. Schurr didn’t get much blocking up front on his first series. Sophomore defensive end Robert Jenkins tackled Schurr for a one-yard loss on his first play. Schurr was sacked by freshmen Justin Byers and Jake Vaughn on third down.

The scrimmage was a good test for Schurr, who started taking live reps near the end of the week.  Schurr, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, looked good rolling out and throwing as the scrimmage went on. He completed two passes to sophomore wide receiver Edgar Poe. When the defense had the pass covered, Schurr picked up and ran for a 7-yard touchdown.

“It felt good,” Schurr said. “We can grow didn’t come out with the fire that we needed. We realize that as a team and it’s just got to get better. We can’t come out like we did today next week or the week after otherwise we are going to have a tough time in two Saturdays (Army’s opening against Buffalo on Sept. 6).”

On the injury front: Several starters and potential starters did not participate in the scrimmage. Army was down to its fourth fullback, sophomore PaulAndrew Rhoden. Fullbacks Larry Dixon, Matt Giachinta and Aaron Kemper all sat out…Junior center Matt Hugenberg was the only first-team offensive linemen, who played. Left tackle Drew Hennessy, left guard Steve Shumaker, right guard Stefan Moreau and right tackle Todd McDonald watched from the sideline along with sophomore guard Lofi Tamasese. Senior running back Tony Giovannelli, senior nose guard Richard Glover and senior linebacker James Kelly also were out.

First-team offense: QB Angel Santiago; FB PaulAndrew Rhoden; RB Terry Baggett; RB Joe Walker; WR Xavier Moss; WR Edgar Poe; LT Brett Toth (freshman); LG Jaryn Villegas (freshman); C Matt Hugenberg; RG Colby Enegren; RT Corey Hobbs.

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond; NG T.J. Atimalala; DE Mike Ugenyi; LB Steve Ricciardi; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB John Voit (freshman); CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; SS Hayden Pierce; FS Geoff Bacon.

Special teams: Jeremy Timpf blocked scout-team punter Tim Garner’s punt in the end zone and freshman Alex Aukerman recovered the block. Junior kicker Dan Grochowski also made a 20-yard field goal. Junior Cale Brewer missed a 20-yard field goal. Brewer’s line drive hit the cross bar. One of Brewer’s kickoffs went two yards deep in the end zone. Sophomore Mitchell Howard missed a 26-yard field goal wide left. Sophomore cornerback Josh Jenkins had a few long returns (35-50 yards) on kickoffs. Twice, freshman kicker Blake Wilson made the tackle on scout-team kickoff.  Senior Addison Holstein made a tackle on a punt.

Two-minute drill: The two offensive teams finished with two-minute drills against the top defenses. Angel Santiago  drove the offense inside the defense’s 35 on a run with less than 10 seconds left. Santiago was late in trying to spike the ball to set up a field-goal attempt and the snap was fumbled…Schurr had a 33-yard pass to freshman running back Egbezien Obiomon called back due to a formation penalty.

Sights and sounds: Col. Greg Gadson, a former Army linebacker, attended the scrimmage and spoke to the team after action was completed…Senior running back Raymond Maples, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, played with the second-team offense. Maples caught a 13-yard pass from Angel Santiago. He was held to 2 yards on two carries…Senior defensive end Mike Ugenyi sacked Matt Kaufmann… Kaufmann threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Jake Owens…Sophomore cornerback Tevin Long continued his hard hitting. A big thud was heard when Long dropped quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw for a 5-yard loss…Freshman defensive lineman Jason Nix recorded a tackle for a loss on Bradshaw…Sophomore cornerback John Barnett broke up a deep pass intended for DeAndre Bell…After the punt block in the end zone, Monken stopped practice and showed each player on the scout team their blocking responsibilities…Monken sent one scout-team defensive player to the locker room after he committed his second 15-yard penalty about midway through the scrimmage. He had talked to the player about giving up important field position following his first penalty.

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

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Andrew King on defense

One of Army’s team goals for 2014 is to lead the nation in turnover margin.

The defense has done its part in the preseason, working toward the goal.

Sophomore middle linebacker Andrew King and company have forced an abundance of turnovers during preseason camp.

Whether it’s against the top offenses or the scout team, the Black Knights’ defense is ripping the ball loose or reading passes and picking off throws.

“We want to force more turnovers,” King said. “That’s what we are out here practicing. We are trying to get the ball out as many times as we can and get the ball back to our offense.”

Army finished even in turnover margin last season and was minus 8 in 2012. New coordinator Jay Bateman’s Ball State defense ranked ninth in the nation, forcing 31 turnovers in 2013.

King said Bateman’s scheme doesn’t play into one particular defender.

“I like how it gets everyone involved,” KIng said. “It assures that everyone does their job. If one person messes up, then the whole defense messes up. If we are do 1/11th of the job, we’ll be successful.”

Army’s defense forced five turnovers in a team scrimmage last Saturday. It will try to equal or surpass that number in a scrimmage Saturday morning.

“We’re all mixing in well together,” King said. “We are getting better each day and that’s what the coaches want. They want us to get better and progress as a whole unit collectively. The first team, second team and third team are all building each other up to get better.”

King built a chemistry will linebacker Jeremy Timpf during spring practice. The sophomores have picked up right where they left off in the spring making plays at the line of scrimmage and in the pass coverage.

“We work well together,” King said. “We constantly push each other on who is going to make the tackle. We study film together.”

Army held an evening practice Friday so its seniors could participate in a Ring weekend ceremony in the afternoon. The team will scrimmage at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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

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August 21 practice blog

Army ended its practice with 30-yard conditioning sprints.

Coach Jeff Monken was starting each sprint group with “Ready, Set, Hike.” The conditioning lasted a good 10 minutes.

Junior tight end Kelvin White, sophomore defensive end Malcolm Hudson, freshman wide receiver John Trainor and freshman tackle Brett Toth were among the players to win their sprint group.

“I want everybody to empty the tank right there,” Monken said. “I want them to run as hard as they can run and be completely exhausted by the time that is done. That’s how you get in shape. You push yourself. You physically push your body to the limit. That’s something that coach (Paul) Johnson always did and I did the last four years at (Georgia) Southern. I believe it’s important to try to be the team that is in the best condition.”

Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr took live reps with the second team. A good sign. A hamstring injury has limited Schurr in the preseason.

“He is pretty much doing everything,” Monken said. “I wouldn’t say he’s at full speed. He’s not 100 percent. But, we are not keeping him out of anything & asking him, ‘Don’t do this.’ He’s healthy enough to handle it.

“To have another guy with game experience and to get him back in the mix to where he can take live reps in practice (is a good thing). He certainly wouldn’t have been ready if he had gone all the way up to the first game and we tried to get him greased up and ready to go. He needs to practice. Everybody needs to practice.

Both Schurr and senior quarterback Angel Santiago, who is working with the first team, continue to wear red (no contact) jerseys. Monken explains.

“You only have so many quarterbacks,” Monken said. “When a guy get hurt at offensive guard, you move another offensive guard or you move a guy that plays tackle to guard or a center to guard. A guy gets hurt at quarterback, there’s no place else to go. The quarterbacks you got, that’s it. We are always on these guys about trying to protect them. We want to play physical and fast and they get hit and they get tackled. But when they get a red jersey on, we want to lay off. Like I tell those guys, we’ll have a guy that will hit the quarterback in red and tackle him and I’ll go over and say, ‘Can you play quarterback?” (The defensive player answers), ‘No” and I say, ‘Well, don’t hit the quarterback because he’s the only one we got.’”

Senior running back Raymond Maples practiced without a red jersey. Monken said Maples’ situation is similar to Schurr. He’s back practicing, “but not going completely at full speed.”

Maples hopes to see some snaps in the team’s scrimmage Saturday morning.

“I went out with a minor tweak in my hamstring,” Maples said. “I’m good to go right now. I’m still a little sore but I’m getting through it. It’s pretty good right now. I had to be smart with it. It’s one of those things that can kind of linger on throughout the season if you don’t take care of it properly. I probably could have went last week but that was a good decision for me to sit out. Right now, I’m feeling pretty good heading into the season.”

Monken said both Schurr and Maples will be participating in the scrimmage, “as long as the trainers feel like they can handle that, we will.”

Injuries continue to mount on the offensive line. Army only had 13 healthy linemen to practice with. First-team offensive linemen Drew Hennessy (left tackle), Steve Shumaker (left guard) and Stefan Moreau (right guard) did not practice. Freshman left tackle Brett Toth and freshman left guard Jaryn Villegas saw reps with the first team. Junior center Matt Hugenburg, sophomore guard Colby Enegren and junior right tackle Corey Hobbs rounding out the first-team line. Freshman guard Joe Tustin saw snaps on the first and second offensive lines before getting hurt.

“We are really banged up on the offensive line right now and it’s a struggle,” Monken said. “We don’t have a lot of guys that have played as is. Shumaker is the only guy that we have on the football team that started a game as an offensive linemen. It’s not like we have this veteran experience right now as it is. We are really banged up and hurt.”

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond, NG Richard Glover; DE Mike Ugenyi; LB Stephen Ricciardi, LB Andrew King, LB Jeremy Timpf; LB James Kelly, CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; SS Hayden Pierce, FS Geoff Bacon.

Second-team defense: DE Bobby Kough; NG T.J. Atimalala; DE Ryan Alexander; LB Dalton Mendenhall; LB Scott Washle (freshman); LB Justin Fahn; LB John Voit (freshman); CB Tevin Long; CB Jared Rogers; FS Steven Johnson; SS Michael McFadden.

Sights and sounds: Sophomore safety Steven Johnson and junior safety Joey Giovannelli each picked off passes against the scout team…Junior tight end Kelvin White snapped on a 30-yard field goal by Dan Grochowski. Coach Monken said White is one of his long snappers. “We probably have about 10 guys that either are snappers or we are teaching them to snap right now,” Monken said. “Anybody that did it in high school, we let them practice it. You just never know who is going to be really good at it and you say, ‘That guy is pretty good. He’s long or he runs good.’ There’s certainly different job descriptions for the long snapper on punts and the short snapper on field goals and PATs (extra points). Kelvin is a guy who is athletic and can do it. Whether he’ll be our guy or not, right now he’s not the guy. (Connor) Farley is our starting snapper. He does both. We have (safety Hayden) Pierce doing it too and a couple other offensive linemen doing it.”

VIDEO: Junior fullback Matt Giachinta talks about the offense’s progression, cutting down on turnovers and the return of quarterback A.J. Schurr to live reps.

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

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2015 recruiting update: Wright commits

Army picked up its third commit from Charlotte, N.C. in the Class of 2015 when Ardrey Kell (N.C.) defensive tackle Raymond Wright gave West Point his verbal Wednesday.

Wright, who is 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, joins Independence quarterback Kelvin Hopkins and Charlotte Christian cornerback Jaylon McClinton. He also had offers from Navy, Charlotte, Georgia State, James Madison, The Citadel, Lehigh, Mercer, Campbell, Elon and North Carolina Central.

The 2015 Army recruiting class is back up to 15.

Highland (Ill.) defensive end Nick Czar, a former Army committ, decided to play for Navy last week.

Army 2015 verbal commitments
OL Jake Baumert, 6-3, 300, Lovejoy HS, Lucas, Texas
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.

RB Jordan Asberry, 5-9, 165, Colerain HS, Cincinnati, Ohio: Navy and Air Force have also offered Asberry.
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
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)
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)
S Rashaad Bolton, 5-11, 205, Veterans HS, Kathleen, Ga.
OL-DL Grant Branch, 6-3, 272, Montini HS, Lombard, Ill.
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.
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).
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).
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
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 Ellison top four schools are Boston College, Penn State, Rutgers and 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 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.
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.
TE Jeff Gemmell, 6-3, 215, Heritage HS, Wake Forest, N.C.: (COMMITTED to UNC Charlotte)
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 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
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.
C Andrew Jones, 6-foot, 280 Unionville HS, Kennett Square, Pa.
LB Cole Jones, 6-foot, 210, St Xavier HS, Cincinnati
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.
T Griffin Landrum, 6-3, 285, South Forsyth HS, Cumming, Ga.
DL Simeon Lane, 6-1, 300, St. Xavier’s HS, Cincinnati
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, Bethlehem Catholic (Pa.) HS: (COMMITTED to Lafayette)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WR Brad Stewart, 6-1, 190, Benedictine Military School, Savannah, Ga.
DL Roderick Stoddard, 6-foot, 250, Hillcrest HS, Simpsonville, S.C.
OL Nathan Thacker, 6-2, 250, Lord Botetourt HS, Daleville, Va.
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.
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.

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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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