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Five Black Knights named to Phil Steele preseason Independent first team

Army’s defense is well-represented on Phil Steele’s preseason all-Independent team.

The college football publication selected senior captains Cedrick Cunningham (safety), Nolan Cockrill (nose tackle) and Arik Smith (linebacker) along with junior cornerback Jabari Moore to the first team. All four were impact players on the Black Knights’ 2020 No. 1-ranked defense in yards allowed per game.

Senior punter Zach Harding, who booted 17 of his 41 kicks inside the opponents 20-yard line in 2020, also made the first team.

The Black Knights didn’t have a first-team pick on offense. Junior fullback Jakobi Buchanan and sophomore tackle Connor Finucane were second-team selections. Junior linebacker Andre Carter and sophomore running back/punt returner Tyrell Robinson also made the second team.

Steele’s list included players from Notre Dame, BYU, Liberty, New Mexico State, UConn and UMass. Notre Dame also received four first-team defensive picks in defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, linebacker Drew White and safety Kyle Hamilton. Liberty defensive end Durrell Johnson, BYU linebacker Keenan Pili and Payton Wilgar and Liberty cornerback Marcus Haskins rounded out the first-team defense.

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