Notebook: Spring practice opens March 21, staff update

Army will kick off spring practice on March 21, about 10 days earlier than last year.

Why is coach Jeff Monken moving up the start of the spring sessions?

“Last year, we pushed it back and we wanted to get a really nice day for a spring game and we did,” Monken said. “It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. That just got us a late start in recruiting. We are allowed to go out that third week in April. Our coaches really expressed a desire to get out there first thing.”

Army’s spring game will be April 15. The game was held on April 30 last year.

Monken said he doesn’t anticipate any major position changes heading into spring practice. He and his staff will get together after the final recruiting visits are finished this weekend to discuss possible moves, which he said will be, “minor and subtle.”

Depth in the secondary is still an issue.

“We are probably going to move some guys from offense,” Monken said. “There will be a slot (back) or a receiver likely that we will move over there, maybe two.”

Sophomore James Gibson, a linebacker and nickelback for most of 2016, played safety late in the season and may stay there, Monken said.

Freshman Jaylon McClinton and Elijah Riley will remain at cornerback. McClinton and Riley were recruited as safeties but we pressed into starting roles as cornerbacks in 2016.

“We don’t have much choice because of the depth,” Monken said. “Eventually, those guys would be better at a nickel or a safety. But, they competed (last year) and as a freshman that’s not easy to do. We’ll see how they do.”

Riley made 47 tackles (sixth on the team) and picked off a team-high three passes in 10 starts. McClinton had 30 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble and started the last five games in 2016.

Sophomore cornerback Marcus Hyatt, a starter until a season-ending knee injury at Wake Forest in October last year, will miss spring practice but Monken said, “he’ll be ready for the fall.”

On the topic of cornerbacks, Josh Christian-Young has been elevated from defensive quality control coach to position coach, replacing ShaDon Brown, who left for Colorado after a year at West Point. Christian-Young, who enters his third season at Army, coached cornerbacks at Georgia Southern in 2013 and 2014.

“He (Brown) did a good job,” Monken said. I think CY will do a good job.”

Monken said he has hired an offensive line coach to replace Bob Bodine, who left for Georgia Southern but did not reveal the name of the coach. Army will hire a new wide receivers coach shortly to replace Keith Gaither, now at Temple, Monken said.

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

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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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