The wait is over. Army football is back.
The Black Knights take the field for their first spring practice this afternoon.
Each spring brings changes in the roster via graduation, coaching staff (Army has four new assistant coaches) and leadership, which can be as important as new shotgun offense that Black Knights will roll out.
Army’s 2022 captains Connor Bishop and Marquel Broughton are not easy to replace. Bishop and Broughton weren’t only three-year starters and the team’s leaders. They both held high position among West Point’s Corps of Cadets
There’s never any shortage of leaders on Army’s roster. It’s just a matter of who will step up from outside or inside the team’s leadership council, which represents seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
Linebacker Jimmy Ciarlo, defensive end Austin Hill, offensive lineman Connor Finucane, safety Quindrelin Hammonds and linebacker Adam Cash were among the players mentioned as emerging team leaders by Jeff Monken on the Black Knight Nation podcast.
“There are some guys that have been around the program that our guys really respect and step up and lead,” Monken said. “Every team has its leaders that kind of separate themselves for everybody else and it happens naturally most of the time. It’s kind of happening for us too.”
Ciarlo was the only defensive player to start all 12 games for Army in 2022. He was also among the team’s leaders in snaps played defensively. Ciarlo finished third on the team with 55 tackles.
Hill was one of Army’s most active defensive linemen last season. Hill’s 41 tackles were tied for sixth on the team. He also forced two fumbles including one on the goal line in double overtime of the Black Knights’ win over Navy. Hill started the last four games of 2022.
Finucane, who has started 25 straight games at guard or tackle, could get a look at center in the spring, Monken said. Hammonds made 11 starts last season and had six tackles in Navy victory while playing with his hand in a cast. Cash, the only sophomore among the players mentioned, moved from safety to inside linebacker last season.
One of the major spring storylines is Army’s transitioning from an under-center option offense to a new shotgun scheme under first-year coordinator Drew Thatcher.
As far as who will get first crack at quarterback, Monken mentioned sophomore Bryson Daily, who had some shining moments including two long touchdown runs playing behind the senior trio of Tyhier Tyler, Cade Ballard and Jemel Jones last season, and freshman Zach Mundell.
Mundell, who played some snaps at slotback in Game 11 against UMass last season, was going to have a more significant role in the Navy game but was injured practice leading up to the service academy rivalry.