Army offensive coordinator Ian Shields has been hard at work during spring drills trying to improve…
Army Spring Depth Chart Review: A-Backs
Starter: Raymond Maples #1 Jr.
Back up: Jared Hassin #7 Sr.
Player to Watch: Stephen Fraser #27 So.
When junior Raymond Maples joined the program in 2010 we mentioned in the incoming plebe article that Maples has the chance to be the best Army back in a long time. Last fall he played like the dominate player I saw at USMAPS in 2009. Maples started to roll in the upset win over Northwestern when he rushed for 95 yards. Maples then ran for over 100 yards in five of the next six games before missing the Rutgers game with a concussion. He was the Black Knights best offensive threat last fall running for 1,066 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns. Maples became only the third sophomore and just the 12th player in Army's history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.
Maples continues to be a workout warrior in the off season and is getting stronger and faster each year. He did miss a very limited amount of time with a sore thigh during spring practice. He looked to be in top form during the Infantry/Armor game when he led the Infantry team with 48 yards on seven carries. As a runner Maples has excellent feet, reads blocking well and runs to daylight. He is not a true burner but is able to burst into the open field. He can break tackles and has a good forward body lean to pick up extra yards. Raymond usually has reliable hands, can catch the ball and is a terrific blocker. Maples was Army's top offensive player last season and is poised for another outstanding campaign this fall.
Senior Jared Hassin has fallen out of favor and was moved this spring to A-back from fullback in part due to his penchant for fumbling at the worst times. Hassin was the poster boy for the fumbling problems that infected the offense last year. His tendency to carry the ball near his hip is problematic. Hassin lost his starting fullback job after fumbling five times and losing four at keys times. Despite the fumbling issue, don't dismiss Hassin's talent. In 2010 Jared ran for 1,013 yards, averaged 5.3 yards a carry, and scored nine touchdowns. He's taken a beating at fullback and was plagued with back issues. The move to A-back may be beneficial. The 6-3, 235 pound Hassin is faster than many realize. Last year he ran 98 times for 450 yards (4.6 average) with one touchdown. In 2010 he was effective in the passing game showing good hands as a receiver with 12 receptions for 154 yards. Hassin missed the spring game and much of practice with a quadriceps issue this spring. With his experience at B-back he offers depth at both positions.
The player to watch is sophomore Stephen Fraser. He was rewarded with a promotion to the varsity around midseason for his outstanding play on the JV team. Fraser ran 14 times for 55 yards (5.5 avg.) last season. His best play was against Rutgers where he had a 51-yard run called back by a penalty. Fraser is a quick north-south runner who always looks to turn the ball up the field. He catches the ball well and doesn't make many mistakes but needs to be more physical both running and blocking. The incoming prep class has a few players, including the fullback who is fast enough to play any running back position, who could push Fraser for his spot on depth chart.
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