Meet the new Black Knights: DB

Alex Meier

ArmySports.com continues to review this year's incoming freshman class by position. Army's prep school produced three defensive back starters for Army in 2011. This year's incoming defensive backs look to be even more talented even with the loss of Cortland Fort, a cornerback with 4.49 speed, who left the prep school and signed with Wyoming.

The good news is that the most talented USMAPS cornerback and the safety who was the team's defensive MVP are joining the program this fall.

United States Military Academy Prep School head coach Tom Simi smartly rotated his defensive back to corner positions, safety and rover. This allowed the incoming USMAPS defensive backs the ability to show the Army staff what they can do at multiple positions.

Alex Meier was the defensive MVP last year at the United States Military Academy Prep School. Meier is a very physical, hard hitting safety from Anoka, Minnesota. Meier played only two games his senior year before he was kicked off the team following a dispute with his high school coaching staff. Meier had his scholarship offer from North Dakota State pulled after he was dismissed from the team. With his football future in doubt the Anoka coaching staff gave Army a positive recommendation about Meier's character. Army was Meier's only offer and he attended USMAPS last year.

In the USMAPS opener against Army JV he demonstrated right away his closing speed and hitting ability against the run. In the next game against RPI JV Meier had a huge hit for a loss. In the game against Globe he knocked away a sure touchdown pass in the end zone. He also made a tremendous open field tackle when he fought off a player holding him to make a tackle. Against FDU JV he intercepted two passes and returned both for touchdowns. In the road game against Columbia JV Alex posted seven tackles and forced a fumble.

Meier is a fiery, intense, very aggressive safety with great instincts. Alex (6-2, 200) is a big hitter who has excellent range, flies to the ball and is a sure tackler in the open field. He is a very smart player with excellent anticipation. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time and simply makes a lot of plays. He led the USMAPS team in tackles. He can play either safety spot or rover.

Army's cornerback position needs an influx of talent. This is senior Josh Jackson final season and the boundary cornerback position is still up for grabs entering this summer. Chris Carnegie was the best cornerback last season at the United State Military Academy Prep School. Chris, who is 6-0, 180 pounds, played defensive back and wide receiver at St. Mary's High School in California. As a senior he was named first team All-Bay Shore Athletic League as a wide receiver and second team defensive back by the coaches. He was a member of the track team. Carnegie ran a personal best 10.86 in the 100 meters, 22.37 in the 200 meters and 49.6 in the 400 meters.

Last year at USMAPS Carnegie played both cornerback positions and free safety. Against Army JV he showed his speed breaking up a long pass attempt. In the Kings College JV game he helped shutdown their passing game. Carnegie played lock down coverage against Valley Forge not allowing a pass to be completed against him. He showed his burst and made a terrific diving deflection at the goal line to break up a sure touchdown pass against Valley Forge. The following week Chris had another great game with five tackles including one for a loss versus FDU JV. In the Columbia JV road game he played safety and recorded three tackles while demonstrating his excellent hands with an interception near the goal line which he returned 40 yards. Chris also made a huge hit on a special team tackle on a kickoff return against Columbia JV.

Carnegie is an excellent athlete who is quick, agile and has good speed (4.48 in the forty yard dash). Carnegie can accelerate and change direction quickly. Chris was a good wide receiver in high school and has excellent hands. He possesses the man-on-man cover skills to play field cornerback in the flex defense. He can mirror receivers while still reading the quarterback and tracking the ball in the air. He has very quick feet and a nice burst out of his backpedal. A number of times I saw receivers try double moves on Chris and he had the recovery speed to lock on them. Carnegie often played safety but he has a cornerback skill set. He is a willing hitter but is more of a wrap-up type of tackler. He does play with the type of confidence you want in a FBS cornerback. Give credit to offensive coordinator Ian Shields for his eye for talent. He was the only FBS coach to recruit Carnegie. I'm surprised no one else offered him. Carnegie can play.

Shaquille Tolbert (5-9, 180) played SAM safety, Rover and some boundary cornerback last season at the United States Military Academy Prep School. Tolbert was a cornerback at Russell County High school in Alabama. He was rated a two star prospect out of high school. His best season was his junior year in 2009 when he posted 50 tackles, made eight interceptions and recorded four sacks. As a senior in 2010 Tolbert, the team captain, recorded 42 tackles and picked off seven passes. He was named to the All-league teams both years. With the given name of Shaquille it's probably not a surprise he was an excellent swing man on the basketball team.

Last season at USMAPS Tolbert had a big hit in the opener against Army JV. He had a great game in the shutout against Kings College JV flying to the ball in supporting the run. Against Valley Forge he recorded six tackles and broke up a pass attempt. Tolbert and the secondary held FDU JV to just two first downs the entire game in posting their third shutout of the season. In the road game against Columbia he made three tackles including nailing a Lions running back on a sweep.

Shaquille Tolbert is a versatile defensive back. He was extremely productive last season at USMAPS. He is a good athlete with above average speed. He's been timed at 4.68 in the forty yard dash. Tolbert is a very solid football player. He doesn't scare you physically walking off the bus but once the whistle blows he stands out. Tolbert is a student of the game and reviews a lot of film. It helps him get a quick read on the play. He fills against the run and is a strong aggressive hitter. Tolbert played cornerback in high school and played there in some games for USMAPS but I believe he would be a better safety or rover at the FBS level. He can play boundary corner but he doesn't get out of his backpedal very smoothly in man coverage. Tolbert's hitting ability and instincts would be better served in my opinion closer to the line of scrimmage at SAM safety or Rover. Shaquille chose Army over offers from Air Force, Middle Tennessee State and Tulane.

Brent Hill also saw plenty of playing time at cornerback last season at USMAPS. Hill is a 6-2, 185 pound player from Camas high school in Washington where he played both cornerback and wide receiver. As a senior in 2010 Hill made 56 tackles, picked off three passes, defended nine throws and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Hill was named a 2010 First Team All-Star at defensive back. He was a major part of Camas setting the school single season record for fewest points allowed per game at 11.3. On offense Hill made 12 catches for 250 yards, averaged 20.8 yards per catch, and scored five touchdowns.

Hill played well at cornerback for USMAPS against Army JV in the opener. Against RPI and Kings College JV he helped the secondary keep both opponents off the score board. Hill intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown in the win over Globe Institute. In the shutout win against FDU JV he made two tackles, defensed a pass and allowed no completions. In the road win over Columbia JV he made three tackles but was beat deep for a long catch.

Brent Hill is a talented versatile athlete. He is tall cornerback with good speed. Hill offers excellent size, hands and has very good body control for a cornerback. He is a smooth, fluid runner. Brent has excellent straight line speed but because he has a long stride opposing wide receivers can get separation at times crossing in front of him when he backpedals. I saw Hill beat on a few long throws last season but he tackled the receivers immediately as no one ran away from him. Hill has a thin lean frame but is a surprisingly explosive hitter. He did a nice job forcing against the run. Brent has a nice upside to his game and can play either cornerback spot, free safety, rover or possibly wide receiver.

Cedrik Bell was one of the early commitments for Army during last year's recruiting season. Bell played both safety spots and outside linebacker at Marion High School in Indiana. He was a three-year varsity player. Bell, a direct admit, excels at run support. Bell is 5-11" and weighs 185 pounds. Cedrik comes from a military family with an Army background and his goal was to attend West Point. Cedrick ran the 400 meters for the track team. Bell is a physical and aggressive safety but has enough speed to possibly play boundary cornerback. The staff plans to look at him at cornerback after Beast Barracks.

Joey Giovannelli (6-0, 180) is a direct admit and the brother of Army plebe running back Tony. Tony played well on the JV team this year and scored a touchdown in the spring game. Giovannelli was a safety and a running back at Glenwood high school in Illinois. Last season Giovannelli averaged 10.5 yards per carry while rushing for 725 yards and 14 touchdowns. Defensively he intercepted two passes. Joey is pretty quick and offers average speed. He ran an 11.48 in the 100 meters during his senior year track season.

Next: A look at special teams and athletes.

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