Looking at Army’s defensive depth chart for its season opener at Louisiana-Monroe, you’ll see the city of Austin, Texas represented big time.
Three of the Black Knights’ 11 starters are from the Texas state capital – senior inside linebackers Leo Lowin and Spencer Jones and junior edge Trey Sofia.
All three played at separate high schools but Lowin remembers the first time meeting Jones. They were at a media session for the Austin school district. Jones was one year ahead of Lowin. But when Lowin, who played at Westlake High, took his recruiting visit to Army, he reconnected with Jones, who was attending Army Prep.
“We both cared about football a lot,” Lowin said. “We both had a similar background playing 6A Texas high school football. We had a good feel for the game. We were good with the playbook and we knew how to work hard in the weight room.”
Lowin is coming off a 100-tackle season and is a candidate for the Bednarik award (nation’s best defensive player) and Campbell Trophy (academic Heisman). Jones, a starter in the Liberty Bowl his freshman year, has battled injuries to claim the first-team role.
“It’s been an uphill battle since my freshman year,” Jones said after the first preseason practice. “It’s been injury after injury. I’m looking forward to a good senior year to go out with football.”
Sofia will be making his first career start in the ‘dog’ position manned by now Vikings linebacker Andre Carter.
Tonight is the highly-anticipated debut of Army’s new shotgun offense and offensive coordinator Drew Thatcher.
“It’s exciting,” Thatcher said. “It’s football. You love to compete. It’s not like this is the first place that I’ve ever been around that you have a first game. It’s football. You just want to go out and compete and be the absolute best you can be. I know our guys are going to leave it all out there.”
Brady Small will be the first Army freshman to start at center since Ryan Powis in the fifth game of the 2011 season. Can’t remember the last time an Army freshman center opened up the season as the starter.
Quarterbacks Larry Robinson and Champ Harris, linebackers Tano Letulo and Elo Modozie and running back Kanye Udoh joined Small as freshmen making the trip.
Army offensive lineman Bill Katsigiannis and Simon Dellinger will not play due to injury.