After a rather disappointing season in 2014, Head Coach Jeff Monken wasted no time in hitting the recruiting trail. Regardless of what recruiting site you look at, this looks to be one of the more talented classes Army has had in quite a long time. ESPN has Army with five 3 Star players and two 2 Star players, with 41 commitments. Scout has Army with two 3 Stars and 61 2 Stars for a grand total of 63 commitments. Rivals lists Army with two 3 Stars and 38 2 Stars and a total of 59 commitments.
While the NCAA allows for teams to issue 25 actual scholarships and over-sign by two (in case a player is not eligible for academic or other reasons), Army, Navy, and Air Force are not like other schools. The Military Academies do not charge their students tuition; as the U.S. Government pays for room, board, insurance, and a stipend to each cadet. What this means is that each athlete on that list has committed to play football at Army and is technically a walk-on, therefore not violating any NCAA rules.
The Black Knights lost a lot of offensive fire power with the graduation of QB Angel Santiago, RBs Larry Dixon, Terry Baggett and Tony Giovannelli, as well as WR Raymond Maples. Combined, these players accounted for over 3200 of Army's 4300 yards of offense. The entire starting defense is gone, as well as some key components in the secondary. Altogether, Army is only returning 9 of their 22 starters on both sides of the ball, which is tied for the 5th fewest in the country.
Now to examine two players in the 2015 class that could make an immediate impact on the field.
The 2015 class has three QBs, and one that could possibly challenge the relief QB in A.J. Schurr who played sparingly throughout the season. Troy Smith out of Harker Heights, Texas, is an ESPN 3 Star QB who seems to fir perfectly into the triple option system. While he is only listed at 5'10" and 175lbs, neither Santiago (5'11" 201lbs) or Schurr (6'1" 209lbs) are what you would consider prototypical size, nor does Army have use for a prototypical QB. What Smith brings to the table is speed and the ability to throw on the run. His recruiting profile has him clocked in at a 4.64 second 40 yard dash, much faster than the other two QBs in the class and Schurr. This escape speed will be a great addition to a backfield that is looking to rebuild.
Another one of 3 Star recruits that could make an immediate imact is 6'2" 220lb defensive end Kenneth Brinson. To say that Army struggled rushing the passer last season is an understatement. The addition of Brinson brings a talented and solid tackler that can play end or outside linebacker. This versatility is a great bonus for Defensive Coordinator Jay Bateman as he can leave Brinson in the game, regardless of the down or distance.
The Black Knights return some great young talent on the offensive line, secondary, and seldom-used receiving core. As Coach Monken heads into his second season, there should be higher expectations for this team, despite all the talent lost. The 2015 schedule consists of Penn State, Duke, and Rutgers as the heavy Power 5 teams, but none of those teams stack up to the Stanford team Army faced and was competitive with (despite the final score). If the 4th quarter collapses can be addressed this off-season and Monken can get consistent play out of his QB, look for Army to make a push for the Commander-in-Chief trophy and hopefully end the drought to Navy.