WEST POINT – Football practice is nary a week long, so, naturally, it's time to start talking quarterback. And for the second season in a row, the same two men are looking to be the undisputed No. 1.
In this corner, standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 201 pounds is senior Angel Santiago, who appeared in all 12 games last season. In the other corner is 6-foot, 209-pound junior A.J. Schurr, whose injuries and inexperience limited him to just five games last season, Of greater significance, perhaps, is he got his only start against Navy.
If the Black Knights' inclination is to stay on the ground with its nationally ranked yardage, Santiago is the likely starter. If new coach Jeff Monken decides to look to the air, Schurr will probably be the pilot. Schurr did exit spring practice as starter, but hamstring injuries have limited his play so far, and his availability may continue to be abbreviated.
Army opens its season Sept. 6 against Buffalo. Monken has until then to make the call.
“He is limited and can't do much,” Monken said of Schurr. “We are being cautious, but it's good to have him out there and I know he is glad to be back, He will help in the locker room and with leadership with the young guys.”
“It felt good to get out here,” he said. “I have been watching film and just good to get out here and work on it. I am getting back into it and I was out here in the spring, so it's not like I haven't been working at it. It's just like riding a bike again and it's good to get snaps with some of the new guys and the teammates I worked with in the spring."
For the time being, Schurr is wearing the blue practice jersey, meaning he is not to be touched. He suffered the injury when running last month.
"I felt good and the freshmen are doing a great job,” he said, “but for them it's like drinking through a fire hose because stuff is coming at them fast. I remember coming in as a rookie and I think we are doing a lot more now than in the past. We have some players and good athletes out here."
In his limited play last season, Schurr completed 14 of 25 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 102 yards and four touchdowns. In his start against Navy, he rushed five times for minus 3 yards and did not complete a pass. Santiago finished with 598 yards rushing and a team-leading 10 touchdowns and 597 yards passing and two touchdowns.
What has impressed the rest of the backfield so far is not the quarterbacks' play, but the manner in which Monken is readying the team. The biggest change from a year ago?
“The biggest is probably the mentality,” running back Terry Baggett said. “If you are not perfect, if you are not doing your best and paying attention to detail, the coaches notice. The coaches know all of the responsibilities of all of the positions and when you make a mistake, they know.“
“It’s much different this year,” running back Tony Giovanelli said. “Our coaches demand perfection on the field, off the field, in meeting rooms, in the classroom and in the weight room. We are definitely getting better and working hard.”
Five cadet-athletes were selected to lead the Corps of Cadets, including men's soccer player Winston Boldt; women's basketball's Jordan Elliott; cross country and track & field athlete Dayna Cline; and football players Larry Dixon and Joe Drummond.
Drummond, a defensive lineman, was chosen to the Brigade Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The SAAC is comprised of team captains from all of Army's varsity sports. An Economics major, Drummond has played 20 games with 27 tackles.
Dixon, a senior fullback, will serve as the Brigade Physical Development Officer. Dixon has appeared in 33 games and rushed for over 2,000 yards. He has rushed for more than 100 yards seven times and scored 17 touchdowns.