Spring practice blog: April 19

Junior defensive end Shawn Lemoto earned the honor of breaking Army’s team huddle after practice.

Lemoto split a double team and tackled fullback Cole Macek in the end zone for a safety on final snap of practice.

“He did a great job,” Monken said. “It was nice to see him make a play.”

Army is looking to build depth on its defensive line this spring. Defensive ends John Voit and Jordan Smith took the bulk of the game snaps last season. The hope is to have Eddy Ruzga and Lemoto, both juniors, and possibly freshman Wunmi Oyetuga in a rotation for the fall.

“It’s just hard to play this game and play the entire season,” Monken said. “It just takes a toll on your body. It’s a rough sport.  So often, we are a lot smaller than the guys we are playing against. At the beginning of the game, it may not be such a big deal. But at the end of the game after you’ve been pounded for three quarters, that last 15 minutes is a lot tougher. If you are playing more guys and rotating people in, then you never quite get to that fourth-quarter fatigue.”

Among the players, who didn’t practice were: T Rick Kurz; NT Andrew McLean; TE Zach Saum. Didn’t see CB Brandon Jackson or NT Cordarrel Davis at practice. FB Darnell Woolfolk was upgraded to limited.

Depth chart: Sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw lined up with the first team but freshman Chris Carter also took snaps with the top unit… Sophomores Josh Boylan and Bryce Holland continue to rotate at center…Freshman fullback Andy Davidson is working with the first team and senior Aaron Kemper with the second…Sophomore Jermaine Adams saw some first-team work.

Top defensive plays: Junior cornerback Steven Johnson was in perfect position to pick off a deep pass to Edgar Poe in the end zone..Sophomore linebacker Alex Aukerman intercepted a pass near the sideline…Sophomore safety Rhyan England had an interception during 7-on-7s.

Other practice observations: Another impressive practice for Davidson. He busted out a 20-yard run against the first-team defense. Davidson collided with junior linebacker Jeremy Timpf near the line of scrimmage and bounced off the two-year starter for a 5-yard gain…Freshman fullback Cole Macek burst into the open field, making safety Casey Dionne miss and attempting to hurdle corneback Steven Johnson on a 20-yard run…Offensive coordinator Brent Davis said, “That’s a nice job there center,” after Bryce Holland’s blocking on an inside run by Macek…Freshman slotback Nick Black made a nice cut block on an outside run by Ray Hardaway…Chris Carter threaded a short pass to Black with three defenders in the area…Carter broke off a big run on right side…Freshman linebacker Kenneth Brinson blew up a screen pass…Junior Mitchell Howard made a 30-yard field goal.

VIDEO: Slotback Ray Hardaway and safety Casey Dionne, 1-on-1

VIDEO: Slotback Joe Walker and safety Xavier Moss cut-blocking

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Spring practice: Kicker breakdown

Saturday’s scrimmage was the first chance for Army’s kickers to perform in game-like conditions.

Junior Mitchell Howard, freshman Nick Schrage and sophomore Avery Walas attempted field goals during the scrimmage. Only Walas, a walk-on, was successful from 37 yards out. Walas’ kick had a good 10 yards to spare.

Howard and Schrage were both short on field goals from 50 and 49 yards respectively.


Army is looking for a new “starting” kicker for the first time in four seasons with the graduation of senior Dan Grochowski. Grochowski made 31 of 49 field goals (63.2 percent) in his career.

Walas and sophomore Blake Wilson tried out for the team after the first practice of the spring. Wilson, who had a kickoff reached the end zone Saturday, was recruited by Army coach Jeff Monken and his staff and was a member of the team as a freshman.

Here’s Monken’s assessment of the kickers:

“We have three rookie kickers (Schrage, Walas and Wilson) really. I think Mitch is striking the ball really well. He missed a field goal and that was disappointing to see that but he’s been kicking the ball really well. The other three guys are just slugging it out. I think Schrage is going to be  a kickoff guy. The other two (Walas and Wilson) probably have a chance to be a PAT-field goal guy for us. Schrage has the stronger leg. He’s just not consistent on field goals. Those other two guys are a little more consistent.”

Zach Potter, Army Prep’s kicker in 2015, and Caleb Watkins, a senior at Glendora (Calif.) High, are expected to join the competition in the preseason.

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Spring football scrimmage blog: April 16

The draw play was going nowhere.

Fullback Cole Macek ran into the back of an Army offensive lineman. Macek, who was converted from linebacker earlier this week, didn’t quit and turned nothing into a 3-yard gain.

“That’s a positive play for us,” Army coach Jeff Monken said after his team’s first scrimmage of the spring. “Cole is just a tough, hard-nosed kid. He was fighting for a bunch of extra yards.”

Macek powered through the middle on another carry for 10 yards. Yards after contact by an Army fullback? Something that was missing in Army’s triple-option offense last season.

Freshman fullback Andy Davidson, like Macek a linebacker last season, scored a touchdown and broke multiple tackles on a 23-yard run.

“I thought they (Davidson and Macek) both ran the ball hard,” Monken said. “They were both running backs in high school. They have some experience running it. I thought Andy had a really good scrimmage.”

Macek played in a one-back spread offense at Montour (Pa.) High.

“I was never a shake-and-bake guy,” said Macek, who gained four yards on a 4th-and-1 play during the scrimmage. “Don’t get ‘running back’ mixed up with shifty because I didn’t have much of that. I still like to run people over.”

How did Macek find out he was moving from linebacker to fullback this week?

“I walked into the locker room on Tuesday and there was a black jersey (Army’s offense wears black jerseys) in my locker,” Macek said. “I thought it was a mistake and I went to the equipment manager. I said, ‘Hey, you left this in my locker.’ He’s like, ‘No, you switched.’ It took me by surprise a little bit. We will see where this goes.”

“Everybody out here wants to win. The coaches want to win. The players want to win and I’m just doing everything I can to make sure we do that. I’ll play any position that they put me out on the field. I’m excited. The transition has worked out well so far. I’m really having a good time and I’m enjoying every bit of it.”

Here’s a quick summary of the scrimmage:
Fullback Andy Davidson touchdown run; quarterback Chris Carter 3-yard run. Sophomore walk-on kicker Avery Walas 37-yard field goal.

Top offensive plays: Freshman wide receiver Chrisitian Poe went up over a cornerback and brought down a 30-yard pass from Chris Carter…Carter 29-yard pass to Edgar Poe on the move…Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw 23-yard run.

Top defensive plays: Freshman cornerback Mike Reynolds picked off Ahmad Bradshaw in the end zone…Safety Casey Dionne recorded a tackle for a loss…Freshman linebacker Jarrod Jones tackled freshman slotback Ray Hardaway for a loss.

Kicking: Mitchell Howard was short on 50-yard field goal. Nick Schrage missed a 49-yard field goal short…Blake Wilson’s kickoff made the end zone.

Quarterbacks: Sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw and freshman Chris Carter shared most of the snaps. Junior Matt Kaufmann received some work with the third team.

Coach Monken’s assessment of the quarterback play: “I thought those guys (Bradshaw and Carter) made some good plays today and both of them made some pretty glaring mistakes and they have to improve those. They both have to play better. If they play better, I think everybody else around them will. The leadership has to come from there and both of those guys can do that. When they start to play up to their capabilities, that will help their confidence.”

Chris Carter on quarterback competition: “We try to critique each other as much as we can. We know we can tell each other anything. We are very supportive of each other. All the quarterbacks are. We are just trying to make each other better. If anyone needs anything, we are there for each other.”

Cornerback Michael Reynolds on his interception: “They isolated Christian Poe and you can hear the coaches saying, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming.’ I knew the fade was coming. After I picked it, I had to get excited with my coach (ShaDon Brown). I jumped up and we hit each other’s shoulders.”

Read more about Reynolds, who has had an impressive spring, and Brown here: http://bit.ly/267LQPs

First-team offense: QB Ahmad Bradshaw/Chris Carter; FB Andy Davidson; SB Elijah St. Hilaire; SB Jordan Asberry; WR Edgar Poe; WR Jeff Ejekam; LT Colby Enegren; LG Victor Nieves; C Josh Boylan/Bryce Holland;  RG Mike Houghton; RT Brett Toth
Second-team offense: QB Chris Carter/Ahmad Bradshaw; FB Cole Macek; SB Joe Walker; SB Nick Black; WR Christian Poe; WR Jermaine Adams; LT Tyler Young/Angelo Natter; LG Riko Tamasese; C Bryce Holland/Josh Boylan; RG Tim Gant; RT Austin Schuffert.
Third-team offense: QB Matt Kaufmann; FB PaulAndrew Rhoden/Malik Crossdale; SB Christian Reed; SB Ray Hardaway; SB Wilfred Ahoua; WR Luke Peterman; LT Juwan Griffin-James; LG Kaveinga Tuitahi; C Josh Rea; RG Riko Tamasese; RT Joe Hansbury
First-team defense: DE  John Voit; NT Raymond Wright; DE Eddy Ruzga; LB Alex Aukerman; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB Andrew King; LB Kenneth Brinson; CB Brandon Jackson; CB Steven Johnson; S Rhyan England; S Xavier Moss.
Second-team defense: DE Jeff Panara; NT Cordarrell Davis; DE Wunmi Oyetuga; LB James Nachtigal; LB Scott Washle; LB Tyler L’Hommedieu; LB Gibby Gibson; CB Marcus Hyatt; CB Michael Reynolds; S Max Regan; S Casey Dionne.

DE Jordan Smith and OL Lofi Tamasese were among the players who did not participate in the scrimmage. Didn’t see FB Aaron Kemper carry the ball but missed the first part of scrimmage because it was moved up an hour.

Other scrimmage observations: Monken stopped the scrimmage when a punt was muffed and a couple of  players on the coverage team failed to fall on the fumble. He explained the rule that the fumble cannot be advanced to his team and urged his players to recover the ball…Freshman Victor Nieves, a first-team guard, getting some snaps in at center…Edgar Poe catching consecutive passes of 5 and 7 yards from Chris Carter…Senior slotback Elijah St. Hilaire picking up nine yards off a pitch…Marcus Hyatt making an immediate tackle on punt return…Freshman defensive end Matt Allgor in the middle of a tackle for loss…Christian Reed returning a kick 26 yards…Matt Kaufmann completing a 8-yard pass to slotback Ray Hardaway.

VIDEO: Chris Carter on the move completing a short pass to Edgar Poe

VIDEO: Freshman fullback Andy Davidson breaks tackles on a 23-yard run

VIDEO: Freshman fullback Cole Macek with a physical 10-yard run

VIDEO: Junior linebacker Jeremy Timpf leads defensive charge on pitch play.

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

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Talking cornerbacks with ShaDon Brown

Mike Reynolds has a mild-mannered, quiet demeanor.

Maybe, too quiet for new cornerbacks coach ShaDon Brown.

Brown put a rule in place for Reynolds to be more animated during practice.

If Reynolds doesn’t show some form of excitement when he makes a play, all Army cornerbacks have up-downs after practice.

“I got to get him (Reynolds) with a little more juice and hopefully that rubs off on everybody,” Brown said after Thursday’s practice.

Brown’s first order of business this spring has been building depth among Army’s cornerbacks.

Army’s top two projected cornerbacks are solid. Freshman Brandon Jackson started nine games in 2015, making 62 tackles, intercepting a team-high three passes and adding two sacks. Junior Josh Jenkins is a two-year starter (2013-14) is being held out of contact drills after missing 2015 with a head injury.

“I want to improve the room where we have not just one or two corners but we have six corners that can go play because football is a game of chances and opportunities,” Brown said. “If somebody gets hurt, somebody else gets a chance and they have an opportunity to be successful and I’m trying to prepare every one of those guys for that.

“I don’t want us to say, ‘Well, we had this guy hurt so we didn’t make this play or that play.’ I want all of them to play at a high level. I’m coaching them hard. I don’t think they’ve been coached as hard as the way that I’m coaching them as a corners coach. But that’s the only way I know how. I’m getting after their tail and trying to get the best out of them.”

Brown said a point of emphasis for the cornerbacks has been improving playing the ball in air.

“I thought that was a weakness that we needed to get better at as a group,” Brown said.

“These guys have great effort. They’ve done a great job of working and have had a great attention to detail. We worked hard on details and playing all the way through the whistle.”

Brown’s toughest challenge in his first spring at West Point? Maybe, getting freshmen Zach Scott and Jalen Sharp up to speed on the position. Scott played sprint football in the fall and is a tryout player this spring. Sharp was moved from wide receiver to cornerback this week.

Brown said junior Steven Johnson, “has really improved his game.”

Reynolds may be the most improved player at any position this spring.

“Mike Reynolds has come along a lot more than what people probably expected of him,” Brown said. “He’s started to get some confidence.”

Brown said he teased Reynolds about, “being soft and not being physical,” early in the spring. Reynolds has responded to the challenge by playing tighter coverage. He might lead Army cornerbacks in pass breakups through the first seven practices.

“He’s done a great job this spring of playing the ball in the air,” Brown said. “Sometimes, he’ll have a mental lapse here or there but he’s a quick learner. Once he makes a mistake, the next time, he picks it up. He doesn’t need five reps to learn things.”

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

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Spring Practice Blog: April 14

Army’s offense lined up for a blocking drill. The repetition was blown dead when a player jumped offside. The guilty culprit – coach Jeff Monken.

Monken, who had filled in a spot for the drill, dropped for one up-down as his punishment and went back to complete the drill.

Later in practice, Monken wasn’t happy with the pace and sense of urgency from his top two offensive huddles and blew his whistle for up-downs.

The following players did not participate in practice: DE Jordan Smith; LB Scott Washle; T Rich Kurz; FB Darnell Woolfolk.

Depth chart (from my observations)
First-team offense: QB Ahmad Bradshaw; FB Andy Davidson; SB Elijah St. Hilaire; SB Joe Walker/Jordan Asberry; WR Edgar Poe; WR Jeff Ejekam; LT Colby Enegren; LG Victor Nieves; C Josh Boylan;  RG Mike Houghton; RT Brett Toth
Second-team offense: QB Chris Carter; FB Aaron Kemper; SB Ray Hardaway; SB Christian Reed; WR Christian Poe; WR Jermaine Adams/Luke Peterman; LT Angelo Natter; LG Kaveinga Tuitahi; C Bryce Holland; RG Tim Gant; RT Austin Schueffert.
First-team defense: DE  John Voit; NT Raymond Wright; DE Eddy Ruzga; LB Alex Aukerman; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB Andrew King; LB Kenneth Brinson; CB Brandon Jackson; CB Steven Johnson; S Rhyan England; S Xavier Moss.
Second-team defense: DE Jeff Panara; NT Toese Tia; DE Wunmi Oyetuga; LB James Nachtigal; LB Jarrod Jones; LB Tyler L’Hommedieu; LB Gibby Gibson; CB Marcus Hyatt; CB Michael Reynolds; S Max Regan; S Casey Dionne.

Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw evaluating his spring: “I’m managing the offense better than I’ve done before. I see a big improvement in my game from last year. I can recognize defenses faster. I can get us in the right play as an offense. I guess I’ve seen a lot of improvements on me playing quicker and faster.”

Bradshaw on the quarterback competition with Chris Carter: “Chris is my teammate. Whenever he is in or I’m in, whoever is doing the better job that’s who I want to be in. Whoever can get us the win. I got his back just like he has my back.”

Other practice observations: Monken was working on footwork with junior kicker Mitchell Howard for an extended period of time before practice started…Junior safety Xavier Moss continues to take some snaps at wide receiver, his old position…Sophomore wide receiver Jermaine Adams hauled in a nice sideline catch. Adams caught a pass from Chris Carter in traffic and made a nice adjustment on a deep ball for Carter…. Sophomore linebacker Tyler L’Hommedieu recovered a fumble by Carter…Freshman linebacker Kenneth Brinson chased Carter and batted down a pass…Cornerback Brandon Jackson “sacked” Ahmad Bradshaw…Jackson tipped a pass to himself for an interception…Sophomore kicker Avery Malas 25-yard goal cleared the uprights and landed in the street between Howze Field and the Holleder Center. Malas tried out for the team after the first spring practice.

VIDEO: Freshman guard Victor Nieves and sophomore center Bryce Holland working the blocking sled.

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

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Spring Practice Blog: April 12

Sixth spring practice, second in full pads.

Freshman Cole Macek switched positions and jersey numbers for Tuesday’s practice.

Macek, a linebacker and special teams player in 2015, is now playing fullback and wearing No. 45.

Army coach Jeff Monken and his staff continue to look for healthy players, who can compete at fullback.

Macek joined junior Aaron Kemper, freshman Andy Davidson, junior PaulAndrew Rhoden and freshman Malik Crossdale in the position group. Davidson and Crossdale were also moved to fullback this spring. Rhoden has missed 11 games in 2014 and all of the 2015 season with a knee injury.

Freshman Drue Harris, Army’s third-string fullback in 2015, remains sidelined with an injury. Freshman Darnell Woolfolk injured his ankle last week and is still out and freshman Spencer Sheff was lost an ACL injury last week.

“We have several guys hurt at that position,” Monken said. “(Darnell) Woolfolk is hurt. He’s out today. PA (PaulAndrew Rhoden) looks like he hasn’t played in a couple of years. (Malik) Crossdale played slotback all fall and was on the scout team. I’m not sure if he’s going to factor in. We need to find some guys that are going to factor in. We talked about him (Macek) before spring started. Where we were at, it was time (to move him).”

Position changes: Two other notables switches at Monday’s practice. Freshman Jalen Sharp has moved from wide receiver to cornerback. Freshman Juwan Griffith-James has moved from defensive end to tackle.

Interesting to see junior safety Xavier Moss line up at wide receiver for some 1-on-1 snaps. Moss, who played wide receiver his first two seasons at West Point, played some offense in two-minute passing situations in 2015.

Depth chart (from what I’ve observed late in practice)
First-team offense: QB Ahmad Bradshaw; FB Aaron Kemper; SB Jordan Asberry; SB Joe Walker/Elijah St. Hilaire; WR Edgar Poe; WR Jeff Ejekam; LT Colby Enegren; LG Victor Nieves; C Josh Boylan; RG Mike Houghton; RT Brett Toth. Note: Enegren also took snaps at left guard and right guard during practice.

Second-team offense: QB Chris Carter; FB Andy Davidson; SB Nick Black; SB Ray Hardaway; WR Jermaine Adams; WR Christian Poe; LT Angelo Natter; LG Riko Tamasese; C Bryce Holland; RG Tim Gant; RT Austin Schuffert.

First-team defense: DE John Voit; NT Raymond Wright; DE Eddy Ruzga; LB Alex Aukerman; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB Kenneth Brinson; CB Steven Johnson; CB Michael Reynolds; S Rhyan England; S Xavier Moss. Note: DE Jordan Smith did not practice.

Second-team defense: DE Jeff Panara; NT Cordarrell Davis; DE Wunmi Oyetuga; LB Gibby Gibson; LB Scott Washle; LB Tyler L’Hommedieu; LB James Nachtigal; CB Marcus Hyatt; CB Zach Scott; S Casey Dionne; S Max Regan.

Other roster notes: Freshman cornerback Brandon Jackson, a returning starter, was “limited” but participated in 1-on-1 drills. Freshman defensive end Emmanuel Aka returned to practicing without restriction. Freshman slotback Wilfred Ahoua was upgraded to limited. Tackle Rick Kurz, a returning starter, and guard Kaveinga Tuitahi did not practice.

Other practice observations: Freshman linebacker Calen Holt has moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker…Slotback Ray Hardaway picked up 15 yards on a pitch…Fullback Andy Davidson burst up the middle for 12 yards…Chris Carter connecting on a deep pass to Jermaine Adams…Linebacker Chandler Ramirez intercepted Chris Carter in the flat…Nose tackle Raymond Wright recording a “sack”…Linebacker Tyler L’Hommedieu stopping fullback Malik Crossdale for a short gain… Junior cornerback Steven Johnson going airborne to knock away sideline pass to Edgar Poe…Freshman cornerback Zach Scott, a tryout player, knocked the ball from Christian Poe at the last second on a deep route…Davidson busting another run up the middle…Junior kicker Mitchell Howard missed a 35-yard field goal wide left.

VIDEO: Junior slotback Elijah St. Hilaire catches pass in flat

VIDEO: Freshman cornerback Michael Reynolds continues his solid spring.

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

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Spring Practice Blog: April 9

Mike Houghton walked off the practice field with a Hershey bar in his hand.

Army coach Jeff Monken handed out candy to Houghton, a sophomore guard, and other offensive winners of the “Fourth Quarter” 1-on-1 drills to close practice. The offense edged the defense 6-5.

“Right now, we are just trying to get together and work together,” said Houghton of the offensive line. “This is the first time (sophomore center) Bryce Holland has been back in a year. I haven’t played with him since last spring. Brett Toth (sophomore tackle) was injured most of the year last year.

“We are just trying to mesh together right now. Day by day, I see us getting better, practice by practice.”

Freshman tackle Tyler Young won his 1-on-1 with linebacker Kenneth Brinson.  Tight ends coach Sean Saturnio congratulated Young after the offense won. Young has been elevated to the first team at left tackle. Freshman Rich Kurz, a starter last season, is injured and Justin Gilbert is recovering from injury and will return for a fifth year this fall.

“He’s (Young) got a lot of work to do like a lot of the freshmen,” Monken said. “He spent the whole year on the scout team. We have to have a scout team. Once they become the guys that have to play, they have a lot to learn and get back into the mindset of, ‘I have to go on a snap count and I have to remember my assignment. I don’t have a card that they just hold up in front of me and I follow the card.’ He’s got a ways to go but we have a lot of guys like him that have a ways to go.”

Army was pretty thin at cornerback with freshman Brandon Jackson sitting out of practice due to injury. Junior Steven Johnson and freshmen Marcus Hyatt, Michael Reynolds and Zach Scott were the only available cornerbacks. Scott, who played in seven games for Army’s sprint football team in 2015, played solid coverage downfield on incomplete pass to Edgar Poe downfield.

Scott is one of four players getting an “extended tryout,” this spring. Wide receiver Dan McFadden is the brother of Army senior cornerback Mike McFadden. Army has brought sophomore Blake Wilson back to compete at kicker along with sophomore Avery Walas, a sprinter of Army’s track team

Quarterback competition: Chris Carter and Ahmad Bradshaw are sharing the first-team practice snaps, Monken said. “When one is not in the first huddle, he’s in the second huddle,” Monken said

First-team offense: FB Aaron Kemper; RB Jordan Asberry; SB Elijah St. Hilaire; WR Edgar Poe; WR Jeff Ejekam; LT Tyler Young; LG Colby Enegren; C Bryce Holland; RG Mike Houghton; RT Brett Toth

Second-team offense: FB Andy Davidson; SB Joe Walker; SB Nick Black; WR Jermaine Adams; WR Christian Poe; LT Angelo Natter; LG Victor Nieves; C Josh Boylan; RG Riko Tamasese; RT Nick Miller/Austin Schuffert. Nieves received some first-team snaps.

First-team defense: DE John Voit; NT Raymond Wright; DE Eddy Rugza; LB Alex Aukerman; LB Kenneth Brinson; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; CB Steven Johnson; CB Marcus Hyatt; S Rhyan England; S Xavier Moss.

Second-team defense: DE Shawn Lemoto; NT Cordarrell Davis; DE Wunmi OyetugaLB Gibby Gibson; LB James Nachtigal; LB Tyler L’Hommedieu; LB Scott Washle; CB Michael Reynolds; CB Zach Scott; S Casey Dionne; S Max Regan.

Third-team defense: DE Nika Davis/Juwan-Griffith James; NG Toese Tia; DE Jeff Panara; LB Sam Johnson; LB Chandler Ramirez; LB Jarrod Jones; LB Cole Macek; S Boomer Bakich; S Gervon Simon

Among the players sitting out of practice were Jackson, junior defensive end Jordan Smith and freshman fullback Darnell Woolfork. Monken said Woolfork twisted an ankle in Friday’s practice and the injury isn’t expected to, “be long term.”

Sophomore Alex Aukerman on practice: “The intensity had definitely picked up from first few practices. We are playing faster every day and we are learning a lot.”

Other practice observations: Junior wide receiver Edgar Poe made two sweet one-handed catches. Cornerback Michael Reynolds couldn’t have played better coverage on the first catch. Poe fell to the ground on the end zone with the ball in his left hand….Both offensive coordinator Brent Davis and tight ends coach Sean Saturnio slapped hands with freshman tight end Quinten Parker for his block during a successful run….Sophomore defensive end John Voit blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt by freshman Nick Schrage…Junior slotback Joe Walker stiff-armed a few defenders away on a physical outside run…Sophomore linebacker Tyler L’Hommedieu batted away a pass from Matt Kaufmann…Freshman defensive end Wunmi Oyetuga “sacked” Bradshaw…Junior slotback Elijah St. Hilaire made nice diving catch near the sideline…A diving Luke Peterson hauled in a pass fro, Bradshaw during 7-on-7s…Chris Carter connected with Christian Poe on a deep pass.

VIDEO: Freshman cornerback Michael Reynolds knocks away pass during 1-on-1s.

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Fullback Sheff suffers ACL injury

Army sustained its first significant injury of spring football.

Freshman fullback Spencer Sheff tore his ACL during Wednesday’s practice.

Sheff was a key contributor on special teams in his first season. He recovered an onside kick at Rice and made two tackles in coverage. Sheff was often one of the first players downfield, slowing returners or altering their path. He received Ranger jerseys for extraordinary effort in consecutive weeks against Bucknell and Rice.

Army coach Jeff Monken said Sheff’s injury was non-contact.

Though undersized at 200 pounds for the position, Army coach Jeff Monken was intrigued by Sheff’s potential and future at fullback.  Sheff was one of six fullbacks, participating in spring football and received his share of snaps behind returning starter Aaron Kemper in Army’s  first three practices.

Sheff’s alma mater Elk Grove (Calif.)  tweeted from its football account Thursday night, “Alum (Spencer Sheff) tore his ACL yesterday. Thoughts from EG pouring out. He’ll be back – stronger than ever!”

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Spring Practice: Leadership

Army should still be a young football team in 2016.

The Black Knights could start three seniors on offense – offensive lineman Justin Gilbert, fullback Aaron Kemper and wide receiver Edgar Poe.

Army may start four seniors on defense – linebackers Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf, defensive end Jordan Smith and safety Xavier Moss. Cornerback Josh Jenkins may get an additional year of eligibility after missing last season.

Is Army coach Jeff Monken looking for players to emerge as leaders with a young team?

“I think we have some leaders on our team,” Monken said.

Monken highlighted Timpf, a captain as a junior last season, and King, who will enter his third year as a starter.

“I don’t know if we have a better leader on our team than Andrew King,” Monken said. “He does a great job. The guys that have been around that feel a sense of urgency to get it turned are going to step up. The competitiveness in them is going to bring that (leadership) out of them.”

Monken also mentioned Poe, Kemper, sophomore center Bryce Holland, sophomore safety Rhyan England and sophomore defensive end John Voit as leaders.

Timpf said, “I almost feel better now than I’ve ever felt at the academy with regards to leadership. People are just stepping up. It’s more natural. It’s not a forced leadership.”

Poe, who was voted the team’s most valuable player of the 2015 season, called himself, “a glue guy.”

“My role is keeping the guys assignment sound and keeping the team together,” Poe said…”I trust every single guy on the offense and every single guy on the defense.

“The team is really ready to prove something. The hunger is absolutely there. You can feel it.”

Army has yet to pick captains for the 2016 season. Timpf, King and Poe are favorites to be chosen by their teammates.

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Quick Spring Practice Blog: April 6

(Late-night edition)

Army practiced in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) in preparation for its first full pads session of the spring Friday.

Appeared there was some rotation with quarterbacks Chris Carter and Ahmad Bradshaw and the first team.

Ball security was a little bit of issue during practice. Quarterbacks fumbled the ball a few times.

Junior linebacker Andrew King had a tackle for a loss and freshman linebacker Gibby Gibson recorded a sack in an offense vs. defense period.

Sophomore linebacker Scott Washle picked off a pick and returned it for a touchdown.

Carter broke off a long run and connected on a long pass to Jermaine Adams.

Junior defensive end Jordan Smith was practicing without restriction after being limited in the first two spring practices.

Junior Mitchell Howard’s kickoffs were pretty deep considering the cold, windy conditions.

No sign of junior center Lofi Tamasese or sophomore guard Joe Tustin at practice.

Practice finished with more 1-on-1s between receivers and defensive backs and offensive linemen and defensive linemen going head-to-head.

VIDEO: Wide receiver Edgar Poe and freshman cornerback Brandon Jackson in 1-on-1 drills.

VIDEO: Freshmen offensive linemen Tim Gant and Nick Miller staying low on a drill.

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

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    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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