February 23, 2011

GBK's Inside the Huddle: Spring Practice Day 5

INSIDE THE HUDDLE:

With their 5th spring practice in the record books, the competition continues to mount as each rep bring a player one step closer to winning a starting position or moving up the depth charts.

In the case of quarterback Max Jenkins, who appears to be a lock for the number two spot once again behind Trent Steelman he knows that this spring represents an opportunity to fine-tune his craft. With Steelman out for the spring recovering from shoulder surgery, the Houston, Texas native is running the show with the first unit.

From his own experience, Jenkins surely knows how significant it is, to be ready because you never know when your number is going to be called.

GoBlackKnights.com caught up with the soon to be senior after today's practice to discuss how both he and the offense are progressing.

"Practice is going good," says Jenkins, "I think we are pretty far along and more impressive than had been in past springs and first few practices."

The Offense

"We got a lot of linemen that have been stepping up … they are firing off the ball and they have been looking very explosive. Of course we have all our skill players back. Things have been working well; just working some kinks out … I'm pretty excited."

"Our skilled players are looking amazing," he continues. "Everyone is comfortable with the offense and knows what they are doing. Guys have gotten bigger, faster and stronger. It's really exciting to see. It going to bring out the big play ability next fall and we are making tremendous strides."

"The offensive line - Four out of our five linemen have game experience before and that's showing right now … they look like old veterans. We haven't missed a beat at all … everybody has been stepping up doing their job and it's been great."

Running the Offense

With Steelman out, Jenkins has the reins over the first unit. "I'm taking all the reps with the ones and then Cody Jackson and Jimmy Ritter are taking the reps with the two's and three's," he shares.

I can't complain because of the work I'm getting … it can only make me better. Being able to get those reps with the guys who will be on the field in the fall is a tremendous opportunity, so I'm trying to take advantage of the opportunity."

When asked which player this spring has caught his attention, Jenkins pointed to two ball players.

"It has to be either Raymond Maples or Steve Erzinger ," he shared.

"Steve stepped up in a leadership position … it's amazing to see him step into that role and see him take this team to the next level and find this team's identity."

"Raymond is just a pure athlete and to see him out there with the ball in his hands … it's great to how he's progressed and what is capable of doing this fall."

Also on hand after practice was newly appointed captain Steve Erzinger, who took a few moments to talk about what it meant to be named to the for the 2011 Army Black Knights.

"Obviously it was something that I have always dreamed about to be able to step into that role. It was an honor to have the senior select me and put in the position like that," he proclaims, as he elaborates on his style versus that of his predecessor, Stephen Anderson.

Steve and I different personalities," chuckles Erzinger.

"Steve's a more wild kind of guy and I'm sort of a softer lead by example guy. But I've had to step up a little bit … in the vocal area I've learned from Steve and other captains who had their turn. It's one of those things that I think you need to do both well and last year the captains did a great job at that and I'm just trying to keep the needle flowing here."

Transitioning with the New Faces

"We have a lot of guys competing for position," says the captain. "We have a lot of young athletic guys and you're excited to see where they end up and that's why we play spring ball."

"We'll start establishing depth in that several days or so and get a better feel of how the defense as a whole will look."

"We need to see how the line turns out and a lot of how we cover depends on how they perform and we have some good guys up front."

Erzinger was also asked which player(s) has impressed him this spring and between the two veteran players, it was unanimous.

"Raymond Maples has definitely caught my eye," shares Erzinger. "He's a great guy and he's been working extremely had in the off season. All the accolades are deserved. He does a great job in the open field and he's always competing."

But the Texas native didn't stop there … he also paid homage to the guys up front.

"I don't want to single out anyone out on the o-line, but as a unit they have been looking really good, especially losing some of the guys from last year. The come out looking strong, they're all athletic … firing off the ball."

But as the 6-foot-2, 221 pound linebacker turned his attention to today's practice, Erzinger joked about some of the combative drills, as he reflected on today's open field tackling drills. "Obviously we are looking to see who's is going to make the play because you can't be on the field if you aren't going to make the tackle," laughing in midst of his very valid statement that concludes with seriousness of making spring practice count.

"We need to see who's going to get to the ball and make the plays."


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