From an original schedule dismantled during a coronavirus pandemic to a 9-win season , the 2020 Army football team will be recalled as a memorable season.
Back-to-back wins over Navy and Air Force gave Army the Commander in Chief’s trophy for the third time in four seasons.
Army’s defense is about to finish No. 1 in yards allowed. The offense started four different quarterbacks that won games.
Who were the best individual players of this season?
Here are my Top 10 players this season:
- Jon Rhattigan, senior linebacker: Rhattigan continued the tradition of strong inside linebacker play during the Jeff Monken era. Can’t remember an Army senior who made the impact that Rhattigan did in their first year starting. Rhattigan tied for team lead with 78 tackles, added nine tackles for loss and two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, in 11 games.
- Arik Smith, junior linebacker: Smith was a consistent presence for the second straight season. Smith’s versatility allowed first-year coordinator Nate Woody to move him around on defense. Smith was an effective blitzer and he improved his coverage ability. He tied Rhattigan for the team lead with 78 tackles and nine tackles for a loss and had the game-sealing interception in win over Air Force.
- Cedrick Cunningham, junior safety: Cunningham’s hustle and tracking down Navy quarterback Xavier Arline preventing a touchdown reminded many of John Voit’s game-changing play in the 2017 Army-Navy game. Cunningham showed up in stopping the run and defending the pass. He led Army’s secondary with 70 tackles, had eight tackles for a loss and two sacks.
- Nolan Cockrill, junior nose tackle: Cockrill’s value doesn’t show in his statistics. The first-year starter’s ability to take on blockers or multiple blockers freed up Rhattigan and Smith to make plays. Cockrill’s best game may have come against Air Force where he created havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Seven of Cockrill’s 28 tackles were for a loss.
- Jabari Moore, sophomore cornerback: Army’s defensive game changer . Moore led the team with three interceptions and scored two defensive touchdowns. Moore’s knockdown and scoring return against highly-ranked Cincinnati was one of team’s plays of the year.
- Mike Johnson, senior guard: Johnson’s leadership on and off the field was immeasurable. Johnson was the only offensive linemen to start all 12 games and was consistently near the top of knockdown blocks every game. Pro Football Focus College recognized Johnson as an honorable mention all-American, putting the senior as the nation’s fourth-best left guard, according to the service.
- Marquel Broughton, sophomore safety: A vocal leader in his first season as a starter, Broughton made 67 tackles, added two interceptions, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
- Zach Harding, junior punter: Harding was in the running for game MVP on several occasions this season. Seventeen of Harding’s 41 punts were inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and 12 were 50 yards or more. Harding averaged 43.3 yards per boot.
- Jakobi Buchanan, sophomore fullback: Buchanan established himself as An effective runner this season. Buchanan wore down defenses, pounding the football inside, and also had two of his six touchdown runs from 25 yards or more. He led Army in rushing in victories over Air Force and Louisiana-Monroe.
- Tyrell Robinson, freshman running back: Robinson’s speed was game changing. The plebe was Army’s third-leading rusher (424 yards), averaging 7.1 yards per carry and led the team with 119 receiving yards, averaging 19.5 yards per catch. He caught half of Army’s four touchdown passes.
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