Roster updates: Campbell departs, McGue to slotback

Tyler Campbell, a game-breaking sophomore slotback, has left Army’s football team, coach Jeff Monken.

Monken, who will open his fourth spring practice at West Point Tuesday, said he isn’t sure that Campbell, a starter in 11 games last season, is going to remain at the academy.

Campbell rushed for 326 yards and averaged 9.6 yards per carry in 2016. Campbell’s 70-yard touchdown run in the Heart of Dallas Bowl was a career best.

Army will miss Campbell’s big-play ability and speed. Campbell’s career numbers – 51 carries, 444 yards (8.7 yards per touch) and five catches, 128 yards (25.6 yards per reception). Campbell didn’t participate in offseason mat drills.

Army’s slotback depth took another hit when sophomore Christian Drake decided to run track this spring. Drake rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown in two seasons.

Monken said junior slotback John Trainor will miss the spring practice due to injury.

Freshman Malik McGue is moving from quarterback to slotback this spring. McGue was Army’s third-string quarterback last season and saw action in five games under center.

“We have the find a way to get him on the field so we are going to play him at slot and see how he does,” Monken said. “That doesn’t mean he won’t be a quarterback or can’t play quarterback.”

McGue took some practice snaps at slotback toward the end of the 2016 season. He rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown in limited action as a freshman.

Some other position moves: Sophomore James Nachtigal, an outside linebacker last season, is now one of the candidates to replace Jeremy Timpf, who will graduate in May, on the inside. Nachtigal had 16 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a situational pass rusher last season. Monken said freshmen Cole Christiansen and Ryan Parker are also among the players in mix at the “Will” linebacker position.

Sophomore Calen Holt is switching from linebacker to offense and will play fullback and perhaps some slotback this spring. Holt played in passing situations last season. He had 13 tackles and blocked a kick. “We are going to give him (Holt) a look at B-back (fullback) and slot as a kind of fresh start,” Monken said. “He wanted a fresh start.”

Freshman Ryan Velez, a reserve fullback last season, has moved to safety and will compete for a starting position as Army looks to fill the void left by senior Xavier Moss. “He’s (Velez) going to have to try and be that guy and compete for that spot as is Max Regan,” 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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