Army spring review: Slotbacks (T-Backs)

Tony Giovannelli

Army recently completed its first spring practice under new head coach Jeff Monken. ArmySports.com will now review every position, listing the starter, backup and third string player. In this edition we look at the slotbacks (T-Backs).

SLOTBACKS (T-BACKS)

Starter: Tony Giovannelli Sr.
Back ups: Joe Walker So.
Third String: Lawrence Scott Sr.
Not Listed: Raymond Maples Sr.
With Terry Baggett and Raymond Maples out senior Tony Giovannelli impressed the new staff with his running, hands, intensity and leadership. In the spring game he had three carries for 37 rushing yards. Tony made six receptions for 114 receiving yards. Giovannelli has fairly good speed and has run a personal best 100 meters of 10.9 in high school. Last year he (223 rushing yards, 7.4 avg.) took advantage of injuries to pick up more reps in the second half of the season He is more of quick than fast runner but he can turn the corner. His best game was against Western Kentucky when he ripped off a career 68-yard run and had a touchdown run called back due to a poor illegal block call by a referee. Giovannelli showed against Western Kentucky and again this spring he will make the tough catch in traffic.

Sophomore Joe Walker emerged from the JV team to earn the backup spot this spring. Walker was a team captain at USMAPS in 2012. He is a solid runner who offers decent quickness and can catch the ball. In high school he was consistently timed around 4.6 in the forty yard dash. His cut blocking in space needs improve.

Senior Lawrence Scott is listed third on the depth chart at T-back. Scott ran for 35 rushing yards and a 4.4 average as he saw some time from scrimmage in the first half last year. He has good speed. Scott once ran personal bests of 10.8 in the 100-meter dash and a 21.91 in the 200-meter dash in high school. Last year in limited duty he didn't appear to be a very instinctive runner and often failed to read his blockers. Scott missed time this spring with injuries and has had trouble staying healthy during his West Point career.

The new staff should benefit from the return of fifth year senior Raymond Maples. He is the sixth all-time leading runner in West Point history with 2,612 yards. Maples, after two consecutive thousand yard rushing seasons, was a 2013 preseason Doak Walker All-America candidate. He was injured early in the Stanford game and missed the remainder of the season. Army missed his run skills and blocking ability last season. If Maples is healthy he should help. ArmySports.com mentioned in the 2010 incoming plebe article that he had the chance to be the best Army back in a long time. Maples has lived up to that billing as only the third Army running back in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive years. Maples has excellent feet, reads blocking well and runs to daylight. He is not a burner but is able to burst into the open field. He can break tackles, finishes his runs and has a good forward body lean to pick up extra yards. His blocking is excellent but he needs to learn the new system.

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