Casey Larkin read pass and drifted to the back of the end zone.
Larkin caught the throw and attempted to keep his feet inbounds during the early moments of Saturday’s scrimmage.
The referee ruled Larkin out of the end zone on a play that probably would have been reviewed if the game counted.
Army’s sophomore safety may not have officially intercepted the pass but it was a sign of Larkin’s continued push towards playing time this season.
“We’ve been working on red-zone defense the whole week,” Larkin said. “We just went through a walkthrough, getting on the same page with everybody. It’s team effort and all I had to do was my job and everything followed suit.
Larkin took a deep dive into Army’s defensive playbook this spring and summer. It showed later in the scrimmage when Larkin beat a block and recorded a tackle for a loss.
“I was on the field with Q (Quindrelin) Hammonds and he’s a leader on this team,” said Larkin, who is from Brielle, N.J. “He leads me every day in the safety room and he’s a great communicator. We got on the same page and I was able to make the play.
“I took it real seriously this year getting in the playbook and learning everything. I just stuck to that and talked to Q and Max, guys with experience. They really helped me out a lot.”
Army coach Jeff Monken called Larkin, “one of the most improved guys that’s in that sophomore class,” from the start of spring to now.
“He’s got himself in the mix,” Monken said. “He’s certainly going to be a big piece of special teams and I think he’s battling the guys that are at the top of the depth chart now, which is encouraging. It’s good for our team. It’s good healthy competition. That’s another guy that I think is a good football player.”
Safeties coach Danny Verpaele senses “a little edge” to Larkin. A little nastiness, Verpaele said.
“He’s shown that he’s pretty athletic and he can run,” Verpaele said. “You see him get physical and he can run and cover. He’s been showing up on film. He’s twitchy fast and he’s 200 (pound), he’s got good size. He’s just been continuing to get better. It’s complicated with the checks but when he goes, he plays fast. He’s growing he’s getting better. He’s got a lot of room to grow.”
Larkin says he’s trying to emulate former Army two-year captain and 2023 West Point graduate Marquel Broughton in terms of how fast he plays.
“I looked at Marquel Broughton as a great mentor,” Larkin said. “He made tremendous plays for the four years that he played here. He played all four years and it was for a reason. He really showed me how to do it. He held me accountable. He was mentor. I just listened to him and took it all to heart.”
Whether it’s on defense or special teams this season, Larkin will bring that passion to field for the Black Knights.