Army Spring Depth Chart Review: Wide Receiver

Anthony Stephens (Danny Wild-US PRESSWIRE)

Army was the top rushing team in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2011. An important part of that rushing success was the play of Army's wide receiver corps. The Black Knights depended on these players to keep defenses honest and provide solid blocking for Army rushers. Look inside to learn more about the top Army wide receivers coming out of spring drills.

Wide receivers
Starters:
Patrick Laird #81 Jr.
Chevaughn Lawrence #21 So.
Back ups: E.J. Tucker #33 Jr.
Anthony Stephens #2 Jr.
Players to Watch:
Jonathan Crucitti #36 Jr.
Michael Hudson #82 So.

For Army wide receivers playing in a triple option offense, the key skill is the ability to block on the perimeter. It's a reason why Patrick Laird is a now a starter. The 6-3, 222 pound junior is a local product who saw spot duty last year as a tight end in an unbalanced look. Laird has added almost thirty pounds since graduating from high school. He made a tough catch late in the game against Miami of Ohio near the sidelines for a first down. It was his only reception last season. Laird is physically the strongest wide receiver on the club and the best blocker. Patrick uses his size well, will catch the ball in traffic and has excellent hands. Laird won't win any foot races but he is tough, competitive. He appropriately answers to the nickname "Packy" which makes him sound like the fighter he is on the field.

Sophomore Chevaughn Lawrence had a very impressive spring. Lawrence was the best receiver on the field during the Armor-Infantry game making two receptions for 53 yards. Chevaughn (1 reception, 9 yards) played in eight games as a plebe. Lawrence is a tall receiver who will go over the middle and catch the ball in traffic. Lawrence uses his size and leaping ability well and was Angel Santiago's go to receiver at USMAPS in 2010. At 6-4, 190 pounds Lawrence is built like a Division I receiver. He has excellent body control and has the ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He has very strong hands and catches the ball cleanly. He is a very good athlete with a personal best 4.49 time in the forty yard dash and a 36 inch vertical leap. His blocking improved this spring to help him earn the starting job.

While Lawrence had a great spring, junior wide receiver Anthony Stephens had a difficult one. Anthony missed most of the last few weeks of spring practice with sore muscles. The staff was expecting more out of Stephens this spring. He was the starter the first four games last season before he lost his starting job. Last season he played in every game but caught just two passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Stephens was open deep a number of times in 2011 but quarterback Trent Steelman failed to connected with him. In the Temple game he dropped a sure touchdown pass from Max Jenkins. Stephens needs to get healthy and play more consistently. He is 6-2, weighs 190 pounds and is probably the best route runner on the team. Anthony needs to continue to work on his blocking which is inconsistent.

E.J. Tucker, a junior, has found a home at wide receiver after being tried at a number of different positions. E.J. made a number of nice catches last spring but was buried on the depth chart. As a blocker Tucker is very aggressive and physical. E.J. has above average speed but is not blazing fast, however, he once ran a personal best 10.95 in the 100 meters in high school. Tucker has good hands and will battle for the ball.

The player to watch is not a new name but just a familiar one at a different position. The staff plans to move Jonathan Crucitti (123 rushing yards, 4.7 avg., 1 TD) from running back to wide receiver. The versatile Crucitti is viewed as a jack-of-all trades by the staff. He understands his assignments and almost always executes them well. I believe the move makes sense and Crucitti did spend some time at receiver last spring. With the depth at running back Crucitti's all-round skills aren't used enough. Jon's excellent hands and outstanding blocking ability would be a plus on the perimeter at wide receiver. Crucitti , who was recruited as a dual sport athlete, didn't play baseball or football this spring as he was recovering from off season shoulder surgery. He injured his shoulder against Tulane but never missed a game.

Another receiver with the ability to eventually emerge, if not this fall, is sophomore Michael Hudson. He made one of the best catches in practice this spring. It was a pretty over the shoulder catch on a fade route where he did a great job of keeping his feet in bounds. Hudson is the son of former Iowa State assistant coach Clarence Hudson. Michael stands 6-3 and weighs 208 pounds. Hudson is a good athlete with above average speed who has run a personal best of 11.07 in the 100 meters. He's demonstrated some run after the catch ability at USMAPS and on the JV team last year. If Hudson wants to increase his playing time he needs to become more consistent catching the ball and keep improving as a blocker.

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