Feb. 10, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Less than 10 weeks since the end of the 2012 season, the Army football team will begin their on-field preparations for 2013 with its first spring workout on Tuesday, Feb. 12. With new faces in key positions, both in the huddle and on the sideline, this spring season will be crucial in identifying the strengths for the upcoming campaign.
Head coach Rich Ellerson and the staff have gone to work evaluating and re-tooling the practice environment. This year’s spring drills will serve as both the first test of the new ideas and a source of excitement for the players and staff.
“It’s a time to pour gasoline on the fire of enthusiasm,” Ellerson said. “The guys have done a wonderful job with that in the offseason. We’re off to a great start in terms of their training. We need to double-down on that as we go into practice. There is going to be a lot of new stuff out there. We have some new staff, and we’ve tried to repackage and reshape some of the things that we’ve traditionally done in practice in order to help feed that enthusiasm.”
While the practice sessions will be full of new sights and sounds, the basics of the spring season will still be in place. The staff will use the time to constantly evaluate personnel as well as drill the fundamental aspects of the game.
“The first thing, of course, is personnel,” Ellerson explained. “We need to re-discover our football team and look at these guys again for the first time. We want to give guys who have developed and grown a chance to compete.”
Perhaps the most closely watched part of this year’s spring season will be the competition for the starting quarterback job. Four-year starter Trent Steelman completed his career in 2012, and the Black Knights will use this year’s spring drills to help identify a successor. Entering Tuesday’s first workout, Ellerson has penciled in four returning players who have a chance to try and fill the shoes of one of the most productive players in Army history.
“We’re going to start off with four guys in that mix,” he said of the quarterback evaluation. “A.J. (Schurr) was the guy that was in that No. 2 spot most of last year. Angel (Santiago) has been in that No. 2 spot at different times, and he’s made some great progress. Kelvin White has been growing up with this offense that was relatively new to him, and he’s absolutely in the picture. Cody Jackson is also in there. He has paid his dues to get himself into a position where he can compete for playing time. We’ve got four guys that all have some genuine abilities and credentials to compete. That’s a lot of guys to work through. Nothing is pre-ordained. We’re going to believe what we see when we get going.
“We’re going to believe what we see,” Ellerson continued. “One of our goals is to make this spring ball as competitive as we can in a team setting. We’re going to stretch ourselves a little bit offensively and defensively so we can share the practice environment as units more competitively in a team setting, which is what quarterbacks need. Quarterbacks need the opportunity to move the team and try to get the team up and down the field, and they need to be able to do it with 22 guys out there. That guy may emerge this spring, but that competition may carry over into fall camp.”
Army returns 27 players who appeared in the starting lineup at least once last season. Fifteen of the 22 players that started the 2012 finale against Navy are back for the 2013 season. However, prior experience does not necessarily guarantee a spot with the first unit moving forward.
“The quarterback position is an easy one to talk about, but there are competitions like that all over the field,” Ellerson said. “We came off a hard year. Nobody is secure in their job, and nobody is going to inherit a job. Every position is competitive.”
Army is scheduled to hold 14 spring workouts, including the final scrimmage session. Each of the first 13 workouts are slated to start at approximately 7 a.m. Written reports and video coverage will be available on www.goARMYsports.com throughout the spring season.
2013 Spring Football Practice Schedule (Dates & times subject to change)
Tuesday, Feb. 12 - 7 a.m.
Thursday, Feb. 14 - 7 a.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 19 - 7 a.m.
Thursday, Feb. 21 - 7 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 23 - 7 a.m.
Sunday, Feb. 24 - 7 a.m.
Monday, Feb. 25 - 7 a.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 27 - 7 a.m.
Friday, March 1 - 7 a.m.
Saturday, March 2 - 7 a.m.
Sunday, March 3 - 7 a.m.
Tuesday, March 5 - 7 a.m.
Thursday, March 7 - 7 a.m.
Black & Gold Game