Army offense confident in Santiago

As Angel Santiago ran the ball into the end zone in the later parts of Army's second scrimmage at Michie Fields, he wasn't greeted with rousing enthusiasm. Strong performance is what the Black Knights have grown to expect of the sophomore backup quarterback. The team has full confidence in Santiago, who came in and played solidly in four games last year as a plebe.

Steel runnings

Starting quarterback senior Trent Steelman doesn't have to worry about his job. One of the most durable quarterbacks in school history, Steelman started an Army record 22 straight games before injuries sidelined him for some or all of five games in 2011. Despite missing time, the quarterback was the team's second leading rusher with 645 yards, and he led the team with 12 rushing touchdowns. He's the only player in school history to hit 2,000 yards both rushing and passing, and he has yet to start his senior season.

Angel waiting in the wings

Santiago quickly worked his way up the depth chart in 2011. The all-state quarterback from Eriwanda High School in California captained his high school team for three years, while also lettering in track-and-field. In one year at USMAPS, he ran for over 1,000 yards and threw for over 600. He faced Rutgers in his first career start, and rushed for 72 yards, while completing six of 15 pass attempts for 77 yards.

Santiago's experience early in his college career is not the only factor that has the Black Knights feeling comfortable with their backup.

"There are some things that Angel does as well or better than Trent," according to head coach Rich Ellerson, "There is potential that he can continue to evolve and put some pressure on that position."

Like Steelman, Santiago's ability as a dual threat quarterback is a welcome fit with Army's spread/triple threat offense. Ellerson describes Santiago as having "extraordinarily quick feet."

Not that Santiago has arrived. "I think there is still a bit of a confidence issue with the football," Ellerson admitted, "Confidence in letting the ball go, confidence in pitching the ball aggressively on the option."

While Santiago's play will improve as he becomes more confident getting the ball out of his hands, Ellerson and his team are certainly pleased with their backup quarterback situation.

"If he can manage [those improvements]," Ellerson said, "he's a complete quarterback."

Not too shabby for a backup.

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