March 1 practice blog

Hayden Tippett was back practicing what he does best Friday morning practice.

Smashing through the offensive line and picking up some hard, tough yards.

The tryout of Tippett, a junior who rushed for 100 yards against Kent State last season, at middle linebacker is over.

Coach Rich Ellerson said Tippett is more valuable on the offensive side where he will continue to be Army’s second-string fullback behind Larry Dixon.

“We’ve seen enough of him at mike linebacker to know he would be a contender there,” Ellerson said. “He’d still be on the bus. He’d still be on the depth chart. He’d still be playing in the kicking game. But, he’s got a chance to make a difference in the outcome of a game as a fullback. I don’t see that looming as a mike linebacker. He’s certainly not a wash out there. I was not an easy call but we just felt like we couldn’t get out of spring without getting him back into (fullback).”

Tippett spent Army’s first eight spring practices at middle linebacker. He made two starts at fullback  in 2012 and rushed for 234 yards and a touchdown.

Tippett’s move comes just in time for Army’s second scrimmage Saturday morning. Ellerson said the scrimmage may have about half of the plays as its first. Army ran 120 scrimmage snaps last Saturday, Ellerson said.

Linebackers Justin Trimble and Steve Riccardi, safety Lyle Beloney, running back Stephen Fraser and defensive end Colin Linkul were in red jerseys and didn’t participate in practice. Junior tackle Dan Whitaker was back practicing and playing right tackle on the second team.

Injuries given Ellerson a chance to move freshman Shaquille Tolbert to strong safety. Tolbert has worked with the first team. Sophomore Addison Holstein is getting second-team reps at rover/strong safety spots. Holstein hasn’t played in a game or participated in many full practices in his first two seasons due to injury.

The first-team offensive line change up:  Junior Zach Reichert (tackle) and freshman Matt Hugenberg (guards) formed the left side. Sophomore Todd McDonald (center), sophomore Steve Shumaker (guard) and freshman Justin Gilbert (tackle) remained in their first-team positions.  Starting center Ryan Powis is still out with a knee injury. The second-team offensive line was sophomore Nick Bennett (left tackle); junior Andrew Szott (left guard), freshman Corey Hobbs (center); junior Richard Rainey (right guard) and juniors Whitaker and Ryan Kalnins rotated at right tackle.

Quote on the day: That’s pretty much in coach (Tom) Simi and I’s DNA. Kind of the way we roll is full speed. We are trying to get those guys to play fast and bust concrete,” Army offensive line coach Todd Spencer on  his and coach Tom Simi’s passion and fire.

A special visit: Jets special teams coach Ben Kotwica, captain of the 1996 Army football team which played in the Independence Bowl, attended practice. Kotwica was visiting and also shooting feature footage for an Army video.

More than 20 high school coaches ranging from Louisiana to Maryland watched practice and were taking notes. Members of Army Prep’s football team also looked on.  Army fans want the Black Knights to add size and there were a few prep players, who stood out on the sidelines.

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