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October 17, 2011

GBK: Inside look at the youth movement

In our October 11th commentary, "The Growing Pains", it was pointed out that "Just through the first two games alone, the Black Knights had 26 players make their college football debut, including 11 "freshmen". Twenty-three (23) of those stepped on the field for the very first time in the season opener on the road against Northern Illinois."

"Add to that, fifteen (15) players have made their first career starts this season, including three freshmen. There were 11 first time starters on the field at NIU, five on offense and six on defense."

Well, that is not where the youth movement begins and ends. There are several other up and coming players within the Army pipeline who's talent is being developed on the "B" squad.

Some of those players have already ascended to the varsity team, where they have have actually contributed and have a bright future for the Black Knights. Others may be a spring practice season away, but their future is equally as bright.

GoBlackKnights.com takes a look at some of those young movers and shakers.

Early Call To Duty

Then you had the following players who started out and played significant time, along with playing really well for the "B" squad.

And the reward their hard work and continuous development? Each of the following players have recently moved up with the A Squad.

Speedy sophomore slotback Scott Williams started the season "B" squad but has been full time on the varsity team very early in the season.

Like Williams, sophomore fullback Hayden Tippett, was moved up earlier during the season. The 5-foot-11, 234 pound Tippett finds himself behind Jared Hassin and Larry Dixon, is a quality 3rd team fullback, which can't be overlooked and that back-up fullback that you must have in the triple option style offense.

Then you had the following players who started out and played significant time, along with playing really well for the "B" squad.

And the reward their hard work and continuous development? Each of the following players have recently moved up with the A Squad.

Moving On Up

Stephen Fraser is a fantastic prospect who was full-time B and had a great game against Yale, where he broke off a 95 yard touchdown run. He has moved up, even with the depth at slotback and has "not" return to the "B" squad since his promotion. The freshman Frazier has been receiving quality reps in practice, especially with the bye week, so things are looking up for the USMAPS product. Although not very big, he adds speed and elusiveness to the running back corp.

Freshman defensive end Derek Sanchez is another direct admit who is tracking well relative to his development and has demonstrated that he has all the tools to become an outstanding pass rusher for the Black Knights. Although Sanchez played some "B" squad yesterday, he has already started to travel with the varsity and received reps in a couple of games and for the most part, his "B" squad days are probably a thing of the past.

The good news regarding plebe linebacker Michael Cermak is that he is a Steve Anderson type player. Maybe doesn't have the measurables if you stood next to him and you probably wouldn't recruit him, but you turn on his tape and you go wow!

He played one quarter against Princeton on Sunday and like Sanchez, he's done playing on the "B" squad.

Freshman defensive lineman Joe Drummond, who is playing one of the interior line positions has solid upside and is going to be a quality player for Army for years to come.

Defensive tackle Richard Glover is one player that Army fans are anxious to see play or perhaps even more so, hoping will evolve into a quality defensive tackle/nose guard. The 6-foot-0, 270 pound freshman played well on Sunday for the "B" squad.

There is still some developing that must take place with Glover's game as is the case with many of these players. The plus side for product of Katy (TX) is that he will get off the ball and he has a solid motor. Ask around the program and the coaches will tell you that he has some of those intangibles that you can't really coach, which are kind inherit in good players.

Then there are others, who for the most part are players who are full time "B" squad players, at least as of now.

Freshman wide receiver Michael Hudson, who came into the program as a quarterback is one of several young receivers in the program, like Jared McFarlin, Chevaughn Lawrence, Anthony Stephens and several others. Hudson, who like fellow freshman, Lawrence has both size and athletic ability. The USMAPS product is now just recovering from a slight ankle sprain and yesterday's contest was his first "B" squad game back. Hudson, who is a headed and smart ball player, can often be seen coaching his teammates on the sidelines when he's not in the game. If by chance Hudson doesn't end up playing wide receiver, he is too good of an athlete not to be seeing playing reps in 2012, somewhere on the field.

Freshman quarterback Gino Debartalo is playing well. From the day he showed into camp to where he is now, you can see the transformation. Debartalo is smart player, who understands concepts and what the staff is trying to accomplish. He is a solid athlete and played well in the B squad's 27-14 win over Princeton. He was the leading rusher on the day and threw two beautiful passes, one of which found Hudson for six points.

Sophomore linebacker Zach Williams is coming along as well. Unlike most of the players we have noted, Williams' "B" squad reps are more in line with a major leaguer going down to the minors for a tune up. In 2010, Williams saw some varsity reps, but unfortunately for Williams, he got hurt during camp where he missed that very crucial time and he is still working his way back. He back full speed now, but he's a player that the staff can't take off the field, because of his intensity and understanding of the defense. The bottom-line with Williams is that he runs fast and tackles.

Freshman linebacker Akintunde Akinniyi is another prep product, who rotates between Rover and the Sam spot. Akinniyi is actually one of the better tacklers coming up through the system. However, he still needs to develop relative to body type and get a little faster.

Freshman Safety/LB Addison Holstein came into the program holding an offer from Stanford as well, but opted to play for Army. His progress, like most direct freshmen coming into West Point has been gradual. Add to the transition is playing in the Black Knights' secondary that has multiple concepts.

Holstein is clearly a fly around and take your head off type of defensive player - an assassin in that defensive backfield. That works well, but that style of play has to done within the framework of the defense and that is what he is beginning to figure out. When Holstein has been right, he has shown flashes of being a really good football player. Holstein is one of those players who would have benefitted from a year at the USMAPS.

Others

Freshman defensive James Kelly and sophomore defensive lineman Shane Finnane are two others to keep an eye on.



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