8/5/19: Army preseason camp news and notes

At Army football practice on Monday, following a Sunday session that was closed to the media, several offensive players went down on the sun-baked field with minor injuries that aren’t expected to hold them out of practice. It was the fifth consecutive day of camp. The team is off Tuesday.

Offensive injuries

Linemen Mike Johnson and Jaxson Deaton were briefly sidelined during practice, but with an offensive line that feels like it’s at full strength, the group didn’t experience much of a drop-off in their absence. Peyton Reeder, a right guard — who plans to switch positions with Jack Sides at center once the season gets underway — missed the spring with an injured right shoulder, the result of “wear and tear.” He said after his first day of preseason camp, he was fully recovered despite his extended inactivity. “Feels great,” Reeder said. “The best. Feels like a new shoulder.”

Said Sides of the veteran line’s ability to insert guys into different positions, “It’s invaluable. For example, two guys went down today and we were able to roll guys in.”

After making a catch, tight end Zach Saum landed awkwardly on his ankle and tumbled forward. It didn’t appear to be serious, as he had it taped up and shouldn’t miss action.

Slotback Kell Walker knelt on the field for a few minutes after one play. After sitting a couple plays out to rehydrate, he only seemed to get stronger, reaching high above his head to catch passes and blazing past the defense to the end zone unscathed. After one such touchdown, he stuck one finger in the air, joined by quarterback Jabari Laws. The two chest-bumped in celebration.

Defensive standouts

Though the offense had its moments Monday, the defense stepped up and made some big plays during the “CIC” drill (where contact is allowed). Malkelm Morrison intercepted another pass — he had a big one on Friday during one-on-ones — this time with textbook form. The rising sophomore turned his head at the perfect time and showed off his vertical to pilfer the pass.

“I’m really impressed with some of our younger secondary players,” Monken said Saturday. “Guys that were freshman last year.”

Linebacker Jon Rhattigan, who opened camp with two interceptions on the first day, continues to have a steady outing. He busted through the offensive line to force a loss of yardage on a run from quarterback Christian Anderson. Kemonte Yow, another (likely reserve) linebacker Monken has praised in the early going, timed the snap flawlessly on another play, causing the offense to backpedal again.

Freshmen join the group

Monday also marked the first time the freshmen were able to practice with the rest of the team. Monken didn’t single out any one rookie who stood out after practice, offering more a preview than a synopsis in saying, “By the time we get to Saturday and we scrimmage, there’s going to be a few more of those freshman involved and we’ll be able to find out about those guys that maybe are at the top of that group right now.”

One final thought

I asked highly touted freshman Anthony Adkins, a running back who by build alone already looks like he belongs in the backfield rotation, about his recruiting journey and some of the challenges that came along with that. The Kentucky product went to high school about an hour and a half from Louisville and had originally committed there before a coaching change re-opened his recruitment. Adkins deferred to dive back into his past, instead providing me with this: “It is what it is. I’m just happy to be where I’m at right now.”

In Adkins’ first day being able to speak to the media, I understand him wanting to keep focused on the present. It’s interactions like these that make me grateful that any player is willing to open up to me upon first greeting. I will always push to learn more about the whole person, not just the athlete, because that’s my job. But I can respect when the people I interview aren’t ready to let me into their personal lives right away. If I were on the other side, I’d imagine I would be the exact same.

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