Fullback Drue Harris departs

Fullback Drue Harris has decided to leave Army after his freshman year at West Point, coach Jeff Monken said.

Harris was listed third on Army’s post-spring depth chart behind Andy Davidson and Cole Macek despite missing spring practice with an undisclosed injury, which occurred in January. He worked his way into the fullback rotation in his only season at West Point. He rushed for 179 yards on 43 carries. Harris gained a career-high 60 yards and scored his only two touchdowns of the season against Eastern Michigan last October.

“It’s (the academy) not for everybody and unfortunately he (Harris) felt like it just wasn’t (for him),” Monken said. “I think the injury contributed to it. It’s easy to get down in the dumps where you get hurt and lose sight of the big picture and the long-range opportunities. He’s a great kid and I’m disappointed that we are not going to have him in the program.”

Army developed some depth at fullback in spring practice, moving Davidson and Macek, both sophomores, from linebackers. Sophomore Darnell Woolfolk and senior PaulAndrew Rhoden finished the spring strong. Senior Aaron Kemper is Army’s top returning rusher (544 yards).

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

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Josh Jenkins transferring (Updated)

Cornerback Josh Jenkins will not return to the Army football team for the 2016 season.

Jenkins posted a highlight reel on his Twitter account. The YouTube video says, “looking to transfer from Army West Point” and states the cornerback will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Jenkins sat out the 2015 season after suffering a head injury during a fight with a teammate in July 2015. He attended spring practice in April but was not permitted to participate in contact drills.

Army coach Jeff Monken said Thursday that the reason for Jenkins’ departure is, “an academic situation.”

“Some of that may be related to the injury and to him not being completely healthy,” Monken said.

Jenkins may have needed an extra semester to graduate because of the recovery from his injury may have put him behind academically.

Coach Jeff Monken said near the end of spring practice that he was “hopeful” that Jenkins would be cleared to practice with full contact in the preseason. Jenkins looked ready to practice. He looked like he spent a lot of time in the weight room. The YouTube video lists Jenkins at 205 pounds. That’s 15 more pounds than Jenkins’ last listed weight on the Army athletics web site.

But as more time passed and the process dragged on, it seemed more likely that Jenkins, who led Army defensive backs with 63 tackles his sophomore year, may have played his last down for the Black Knights.

“I’m disappointed,” Monken said. “I’m disappointed for him and his family. I know that’s something his family and his folks took great pride in the fact that he was here. I’m sorry that we couldn’t help him more, that we couldn’t do more to help him succeed here. I wish him well and hope things work out for him as he continues his career.”

Jenkins was the best corneback and one of more talented and instinctive players I’ve seen pass through Army since I started covering the team in 2007. Some believe he was the best defensive talent that Army’s had since defensive end Josh McNary, a 2011 graduate.

It will be interesting to see where Jenkins continues his college career. If Jenkins can return to his 2014 form (four interceptions, two blocked kicks and 12 pass breakups), he has a shot at the next level.

Jenkins’ departure likely leaves senior Steven Johnson and sophomore Marcus Hyatt battling for the starting position opposite sophomore Brandon Jackson in the preseason.

Jenkins’ exit also leaves Army fans wondering what could have been after an impressive 2014 season.

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

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2016 freshmen class loses Scott, McAllister, Amos and three others

Cornerback Tank Scott is the latest 2015 Army Prep football player to reopen his recruiting and decide to not attend Army this fall.

Scott said there wasn’t any specific reason why he wasn’t continuing his football career at Army. He said he made 33 tackles, picked off two passes, blocked two kicks and returned one for a touchdown for Army Prep.

Army Prep center Eric McAllister tweeted Sunday that he wouldn’t be playing for Army this fall. Wide receiver Chris Shelling posted on Twitter that he wasn’t returning to West Point earlier this week. McAllister has tweeted offers from Division I-AA Albany, Citadel, Jacksonville University, Mercer and Robert Morris this week.

Safety D’Angelo Amos and receivers Michon Sobers and Vinny Labus have also elected to pursue their college football career elsewhere. Amos had four interceptions for Army Prep.

Scott, McAllister, Shelling and Sobers graduated from Army Prep last week.

The recent departures bring the total up to at least 19 Army Prep players, who will not be joining the Division I-A team for their freshmen seasons.

Linebacker Konnor Houston, linebacker Robert Heyward, quarterback Dario Highsmith, cornerback Lawrence Stevens, running back Calen Taylor, running back Josh Walker, running back B.J. Harris, defensive lineman Khalil Yelding, wide receiver R.J. Trimble-Edwards, cornerback A.J. Keene, defensive end Jalen Nash, wide receiver Bryce Sutherland and linebacker Kaelon Love left Army Prep during the school year.

Here’s a list of where members of 2015 Army Prep teams are playing in 2016:
S D’Angelo Amos, James Madison (walk on)
RB B.J. Harris, Southern University
LB Robert Heyward, Towson
QB Dario Highsmith, Weslayan (Conn.)
LB Konnor Houston, South Alabama
CB A.J. Keene, Gardner-Webb, enrolled in January
WR Vinny Labus, TBA
LB Kaelon Love, TBA
C Eric McAllister, offers from offers from Division I-AA Albany, Citadel, Jacksonville University, Mercer and Robert Morris.
DE Jalen Nash, Samford
CB Tank Scott, Hampton
WR Chris Shelling, TBA
WR Michon Sobers, TBA
CB Lawrence Stevens, Rutgers
WR Bryce Sutherland, TBA
RB Calen Taylor, Bowling Green
WR R.J. Trimble-Edwards, Sacred Heart
DL Khalil Yelding, TBA
RB Josh Walker, Ferris State

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Ken Johnson, Clarke, Bell receive Hall of Fame call

All-American linebackers Ken Johnson and Townsend Clarke and Tommy Bell, West Point’s first 1,000-yard rusher, highlight the 2016 Army Sports Hall of Fame class.

The nine-member class, which includes wrestling coach Leroy Alitz, will be inducted on Oct. 21 and honored at halftime of the North Texas game on Oct. 22.

Johnson, a Newburgh Free Academy graduate, earned first-team all-American honors in 1968 when he captained Army to a 7-3 record in his senior season. Army has had just two all-Americans since Johnson – guard Don Smith (1985) and running back Mike Mayweather (1990).

Clarke, an all-American linebacker as a senior in 1966, helped Army to an 8-2 record in his final season. He also played two seasons on the basketball team.

The wait for Bell is over. He rushed for 1,020 yards on just 96 carries in 1954. A 1954 first-team all-American, Bell scored 12 touchdowns. He currently ranks 16th in Army’s all-time rushing list with 1,754 yards and is third in yards per attempt (6.6).

Bell played in an era in between Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis, Felix “Doc” Blanchard and Pete Dawkins. Remember meeting Bell and his family five years when they visited West Point. Bob Bell created a Facebook page “Tommy Bell 1954 Army Halfback All America” for his father in 2011 hoping he would get the call for the Hall of Fame. This honor means a lot to the Bell family. Here’s my story: http://bit.ly/27E0ajh

Swimmers Anthony Clay and Colleen Criscillo, cross country and track athlete John Hammack, golfer Steve Penbrook and boxer Joe Remus round out the Hall of Fame class.

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

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2016 recruiting class: Direct or Army Prep update

A list of direct admits and players headed to Army Prep from the 2016 recruiting class:

Updates: Former commits Alpharetta (Ga.) wide receiver Nick Carlton and Butler (Ohio) linebacker Nic Martin are headed to James Madison and Dayton respectively.

Direct
S Anthony Battaglia, 6-1, 195, Pine-Richland HS, Gibsonia, Pa.
QB Joey Benden, 5-10, 180, Massaponax HS, Spotsylvania, Va.
WR Kjetil Cline, 6-foot, 185, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
OLB Jake Ellington, 6-3, 222, East Wake HS, Wendell, N.C.
QB Korie Frausto, 6-foot, 185, Maize South HS, Wichita, Kansas
LB Ryan Grady, 6-2, 201, Woodberry Forest (Va.) HS
C Alex Herndon, 6-3, 250, Calvary Day HS, Savannah, Ga.
TE Will Huff, 6-2, 234, Meade HS, Fort Meade, Md.
LB Jack King, 6-2, 205, Providence HS, Charlotte, N.C.
OL Liam McCarthy, 6-2, 275, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms
RB Nick Meunier, 5-9, 188, Gibson HS, Gibson City, Ill.
T Trey Neville, 6-4, 250, Lafayette HS, Williamsburg, Va.
LB Ryan Parker, 6-1, 205, Baylor HS, Chattanooga, Tenn.
CB-S Elijah Riley, 5-11, 190, Newfield HS, Selden, N.Y.
LB Joe Ryan, 6-1, 215, Plant HS, Tampa, Fla.
K-P Landon Salyers, 6-foot, 180, Dobyns-Bennett HS, Kingsport, Tenn.
OL Jack Sides, 6-2, 280, Highland Park HS, Dallas, Texas
OL Cooper Simpson, 6-1, 260, Buford (Ga.) HS
RB Ryan Velez, 6-1, 196, Brophy Prep, Phoenix, Ariz.
P-K Caleb Watkins, 5-10, 160, Glendora (Calif.) HS
Army Prep
OL Nate Archie, 6-1, 268, Murphy HS, Mobile, Ala.
LB Gavin Bassett, 6-1, 205, Farmington (Minn.) HS
QB Tony Brown, 5-11, 185, Jarrell (Texas) HS
WR Tre Bruce, 6-1, 195, Pulaski Academy, Little Rock, Ark.
OL-DL Grayson Chouffet, 6-3, 260, Prosper (Texas) HS
DL Tyler Fleagle, 6-2, 265, Linganore HS, Frederick, Md.
OL Michael Gerber, 6-4, 263, Stoughton (Wisc.) HS
LB Christian Gomez, 6-1, 215, Cypress Bay HS, Weston, Fla.
WR Cam Harrison, 6-3, 175, Allen (Texas) HS
RB Artice Hobbs, 5-10, 175, Newton HS, Covington, Ga.
CB Joseph King, 5-10, 160, Bolles School, Jacksonville, Fla.
TE Geoff Kirk, 6-4, 230, Avon (Conn.) HS
LB Jake Lauer, 6-3, 225, Franklin Regional HS, Murrysville, Pa.
QB-RB Bryson Perry, 5-9, 165, Cherokee HS, Canton, Ga.
OL Peyton Reeder, 6-5, 315, Coosa HS, Rome, Ga.
DB Alex Rowe, 6-foot, 182, Greater Atlanta Christian HS, Norcross, Ga.
S Chris Skyers, South Gwinnett HS, Snellville, Ga.
RB Bryson Stephens, 5-9, 176, Morristown-Hamblen HS, Morristown, Tenn.
RB R.J. Stevens, 5-10, 215, Baldwin County HS, Bay Minette, Ala.
T Nick Stokes, 6-5, 270, Kempsville HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
QB Cameron Thomas, 5-11, 172, Lee HS, Huntsville, Ala.
S Justin Thomas, 6-1, 176, Chaminade-Madonna HS, Hollywood, Fla.
DE Emmanuel Ukhueligbe, 6,2, 255, Seventy-First HS, Fayetteville, N.C.
LB Desmond Veals, 6-foot, 195, West Brook HS, Beaumont, Texas
QB Brett Virgil, 5-10, 166, Heritage HS, Brentwood, Calif.
WR Max Weisman, 6-1, 176, Burbank (Calif.) HS
LB Demann Wilson, 6-3, 215, Glenville HS, Cleveland, Ohio
RB T.J. Wisham, 5-11, 215, Episcopal HS, Baton Rogue, La.
LB Markus Wright, 6-3, 210, Jordan HS, Columbus, Ga.
Remaining 2016 commits
S-KR Wallace Barrett, 6-1, 185, Christ Presbyterian Academy, Nashville, Tenn.
CB John Baty, 6-foot, 165, Hilton Head (S.C.) HS
S Jahvari Boudreau, 5-10, 175, Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
WR Antoine Cannady, 6-3, 225, Dawson HS, Pearland, Texas
LB Cole Christiansen, 6-2, 215, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Suffolk, Va.
FB August Cook, 6-3, 220, Bedford (Pa.) HS
LB Rahmeel Cook, 6-2, 210, Demopolis (Ala.) HS
SB Fred Cooper, 6-foot, 205, Reagan HS, Houston, Texas
DE Marquez Daniel, 6-foot, 250, Mays HS, Atlanta, Ga
RB Dominic Distefano, 5-7, 160, Hendrickson (La.) HS
LB Robert Green, 6-1, 215, John Ehret HS, Marrero, La.
RB-S Kyle Harrell, 6-1, 205, Calera (Ala.) HS
RB Jacob Hendricks, 6-1, 195, Cabell Midland HS, Ona, W. Va.
LB Aaron Jones, 6-foot, 205, Pike HS, Indianapolis, Ind.
S Cameron Jones, 6-2, 180, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C.
LS Peyton Kemp, 6-2, 215, Christ Presbyterian HS, Nashville, Tenn.
G Grant Kerstens, 6-2, 285, Parkview Baptist HS, Baton Rogue, La.
DE/LB Rob Knox, 6-3, 230, Sinton (Texas) HS
WR Kevin Waites, 6-1. 175, Manor (Texas) HS
CB Keshaun Wells, 6-3, 190, Aldine Davis HS, Houston, Texas

2016 recruits, please DM me on Twitter (@salinterdonato) if you are heading directly to West Point or going to Army Prep.

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Scheduling: Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech not in Army’s future

Don’t expect Army to be adding regular-season games against Georgia Southern or Georgia Tech under Jeff Monken’s watch.

While the state of Georgia has become an important recruiting area over the past few years, Monken said he doesn’t want to play schools that he’s emotionally invested in.

Monken was the head coach at Georgia Southern for four seasons (2010-13) before taking the Army job. He was an assistant under Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson at Navy, Georgia Southern and the Atlantic Coast Conference school.

When his cousin, Todd, was Southern Mississippi’s head coach,  Monken had no desire to schedule the Golden Eagles.

“I want him to win the games he plays and frankly, I want Georgia Southern to win all the games that they play,” Monken said. “If we play them, then I want them to win. The same with playing coach Johnson at Georgia Tech, he’s a mentor of mine. I want him to win every game. I don’t want to be on the other side, wanting him to lose.”

Monken addressed the 2016 schedule, which has Army playing four of its first five games on the road, and more at his post-spring press conference Wednesday. Monken said he gives input on Army’s future schedule to director of athletics Boo Corrigan and executive athletic director Bob Beretta.

Army’s schedule is apparently set through the 2019 season.

“He (Beretta) asked, going forward what do you think in 2020, 2021, 2022,” Monken said. “Those are the ones we are talking about.”

Army is one of three “independent” teams (Brigham Young, Notre Dame) remaining at the Division I-A level. Notre Dame plays five games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams per year but is not a member of the league.

“It’s a task to get those schedules solidified and contracts made with other schools,” Monken said. “There’s a lot of verbal agreements that don’t end up becoming contracts…I like to be to think about who we have a chance to play and we we are going to get an opportunity to face off with in years to come. It has a lot to do with recruiting and how our program is perceived in the college football circles…A lot of thought goes into who we are going to play. Does it fit? Is it a good game for Army? How does it benefit our institution and our program?”

Monken said, “there’s 128 teams that play football at this level and there’s none where I say, ‘I just really want to play them.’ Everyone of them is a great opportunity for us and to be able to play a national schedule like we do is pretty neat and pretty special.”

The only scenario where Army would play Georgia Southern or Georgia Tech is in a bowl game, Monken said.

“To schedule a game with Georgia Southern, I don’t know what that adds for us more than anything else,” Monken said. “That’s a school that I love, that I’m emotionally invested in and I’m very proud of…I think the fields of friendly strife is nice when you talk about friendly strife. To me, competition isn’t friendly. We play somebody, I want to whip them. I want to line up and win. I want our team to play with a purpose to win.”

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

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Takeaways: Coach Monken post-spring presser

Army coach Jeff Monken didn’t name a starting quarterback during his post-spring press conference Wednesday.

There’s no rush with Army’s 2016 opener at Temple is four months away. But, Monken did take the high road when asked who his No. 1 quarterback is.

“We have two No. 1 quarterbacks,” Monken said.

Sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw and freshman Chris Carter are listed as co-starters on Army’s post-spring depth chart.

Bradshaw is the more explosive runner in between the tackles. Carter has shown to be more comfortable pitching the ball and throwing it.

Would Monken have liked to see one quarterback take a step past the other in the spring?

“Both of them improved,” Monken said. “Both of them got better as the spring went along. I thought the competition was healthy for that position…They both want to be the starting quarterback. They both have started in games here. They both have done things to show us that they are capable of running our offense…

“I think the best thing that we have going is the fact that there is some competition there and that there is no clear-cut starter yet. Yeah, you would like to see one so much better than the other. But, I like for both of them to be really, really good. That gives us an opportunity to breath and say, ‘Ok, we have two guys that we feel really good about playing that position. Perhaps, there will be a need or a reason for us to play both of them. I don’t know if we will do that. But, that may be the way it ends up.”

Bradshaw (seven starts in 2015) and Carter (two starts in 2015) still have plenty of room for improvement.

“I hope these guys continue to grow,” Monken said. “They both need to get better. As good as the competition was this spring, neither one of those guys is as good as we want them to be. We want them both to play a lot better,  make fewer mistakes and put us in better positions.”

Junior lineman Colby Enegren has worked his way back into the mix after playing sparingly toward the end of the 2015 season. Enegren played the first four games in a reserve role last season. He took 52 snaps against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 26 and didn’t play again. Enegren had started three games his sophomore year.

Monken said Enegren had an impressive spring before he was injured when, “teammates fell on his legs from the side as he was blocking someone.”

Enegren was moved from left guard to left tackle due to injuries during the spring. He’s listed as the starting left guard on the post-spring depth chart.

“He’s a talented kid,” Monken said. “He’s a very athletic kid, maybe, the strongest football player we have. If we just have a power-clean competition on our team, he’d probably win. He can move people at the line of scrimmage and he’s athletic enough to do all of the things that we need that position to do. He’s frankly struggled some times with the offense.”

Monken said he’s optimistic that Enegren will not need surgery and will be available for preseason practice in August.

“I would like to see him back in there and have a chance to compete,” Monken said.

Monken is concerned about the lack of experienced depth behind starting safeties Rhyan England and Xavier Moss. Casey Dionne and Max Regan, both freshman, are currently second on the depth chart. Regan played special teams last season. Army used freshman linebacker Gibby Gibson as the nickel back during the spring.

Monken mentioned the possibility of moving a player from another position to safety. That could be contingent on return of cornerback Josh Jenkins. Monken told me late in spring practice that he is hopeful Jenkins, a starter in 2013 and 2014, will receive medical clearance for preseason practice. Jenkins didn’t participate in contact drills this year after missing the 2015 season due to head injury suffered in July 2015. If or when Jenkins is cleared, Army could move a cornerback to safety, perhaps junior Steven Johnson. Johnson started at safety his sophomore season.

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

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VIDEO: Coach Monken post-spring presser

Army coach Jeff Monken talks about how new assistant coaches ShaDon Brown, Daryl Dixon, Mike Viti, Chad Wilt have worked with players, the team’s overall depth and the offensive line during his post-spring press conference.

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Post-spring depth chart

Quarterbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Carter are listed as co-starters on Army’s official post-spring depth chart, released Wednesday

Sophomore Andy Davidson is the top fullback heading out of spring after moving from linebacker.

Senior fullback Aaron Kemper, Army’s top returning rusher, is not on the three-deep.

Some players, who didn’t participate in spring practice and include fullback Drue Harris, slotback Tyler Campbell, tackles Justin Gilbert and Rick Kurz and linebacker Bayle Wolf, are listed on the depth chart.

While, cornerback Josh Jenkins, who didn’t participate in contact drills in the spring, is not listed.

Depth chart
Offense
QB: Ahmad Bradshaw, Jr. or Chris Carter, Soph.
FB: Andy Davidson, Soph.: Cole Macek, Soph. or Drue Harris, Soph.
RB: Jordan Asberry, Soph.; Joe Walker, Sr. or Christian Drake.
RB: Tyler Campbell, Soph.; Elijah St. Hilaire, Sr.or John Trainor, Jr.
WR: Edgar Poe, Sr.; Christian Poe, Soph.
WR: Jeff Ejekam, Jr.; Jermaine Adams, Jr.
TE: Quinten Parker, Soph.; Zach Saum, Soph.
LT: Rick Kurz, Soph.; Brett Toth, Jr.
LG: Colby Enegren, Sr.; Victor Nieves, Soph.
C: Josh Boylan, Jr.; Bryce Holland, Soph.
RG: Mike Houghton, Jr.: Tim Gant, Soph.
RT: Justin Gilbert, Sr.; Brett Toth, Jr.

Defense
DE: John Voit, Jr.; Chandler Ramirez, Soph.
NT: Cordarrell Davis, Soph.; Raymond Wright, Soph.
DE: Jordan Smith, Sr.; Eddy Ruzga, Sr.
OLB: Alex Aukerman, Jr.; Gibby Gibson, Soph.
OLB: Bayle Wolf, Jr. or Kenneth Brinson, Soph.
ILB: Andrew King, Sr.; Scott Washle, Jr.
ILB: Jeremy Timpf, Sr.; Calen Holt, Soph.
CB: Brandon Jackson, Soph.; Mike Reynolds, Soph.
CB: Steven Johnson, Sr.; Marcus Hyatt, Soph.
S: Rhyan England, Jr.; Casey Dionne, Soph.
S: Xavier Moss, Sr.; Max Regan, Soph.

Specialists
K: Mitchell Howard, Sr.; Blake Wilson, Jr.
P: J.D. Mote, Soph.; Tim Garner, Jr.
LS: Clay Barton, Jr.; Scott Flanick, Soph.
Holder: Ahmad Bradshaw, Jr; J.D. Mote, Soph.
KR: Marcus Hyatt, Soph.; Nick Black, Soph.
PR: Edgar Poe, Sr.; Nick Black; Soph.

 

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2016 captains: Jeremy Timpf, Andrew King

Junior linebackers Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King were voted as captains for the 2016 season by their teammates Saturday.

Timpf is the first Army player to be named captain in his junior and senior year since linebacker Steve Anderson in 2009-10. He led the team with 117 tackles in 2014 and tied King for the team lead with 92 tackles last year.

King, who enters his third season as a starter, made 92 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, and added 4.5 sacks as a junior.

The 2016 season will be the first time that Army hasn’t had an offensive captain since 1992 when defensive tackle Dan Davis and safety Mike McElrath were chosen.

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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