Last season a number of the Army freshmen running backs saw playing time, I don't expect any of this group to see as many minutes from scrimmage especially with the injury suffered by Ja’Quail Haskins. However, this is a group that can help down the road. ArmySports.com will now take a look at the new Black Knights running backs.
Ja’Quail Haskins played A-Back at the United States Military Academy Prep School last year. He was the one running back that demonstrated the “magic” Rich Ellerson has stated he is looking for in a running back with the ball in his hands. Haskins was a star running back for Killeen high school in Texas. He ran for 1,550 yards and scored 20 touchdowns his senior year. Ja'Quail is 5-8 and weighs 178 pounds. In the 100 meter dash during the Texas high school state final in 2010 he ran a blazing 10.3 wind aided time.
Haskins was the most exciting running back at USMAPS last season. He possessed run skills, was road runner fast, had explosive acceleration and demonstrated the ability to cut on a dime. While a small player, Ja'Quail is muscular and very strong for his size. He was able to run through arm tackles. In five plus games Haskins scored five touchdowns including touchdown runs from 57, 35 and 80 yards before seriously injuring his knee against Valley Forge. If the opposition gave him a lane he was gone. The only question for Haskins is his health and how much speed and ability he may have left, if any, on the operating table. His rehabilitation is going well but it’s unclear if he'll be ready to play this fall. Ja’Quail needs to work on his blocking. Haskins chose Army over offers from Navy and Texas State.
Luke Proulx is a 5-9, 180 pound running back from Bothell, Washington. At USMAPS he played both the A and C back positions last year. As a junior in high school Luke ran for 1,700 yards, averaged 8.5 per carry, and scored 23 touchdowns. His senior year Proulx rushed for 1,565 yards and produced 26 touchdowns. He was named honorable mention All-State and selected his division’s Offensive Player of the Year. Proulx has 4.5 speed and has run an 11.1 time on the track in the 100 meters. Proulx battled injuries his entire year at USMAPS. He missed The Opening game. In the game against Kings College JV he scored his first touchdown on a 42-yard run. At Michie Stadium, against Globe Institute, Luke scored another touchdown. He then was injured again and missed the FDU and Columbia JV games. Proulx appeared in the finale against NAPS and played well in the win.
Proulx is a very versatile running back who can play A, C or even B back in the Army offense. He had a very prolific high school career for a school with an excellent football program. Luke is a smart, productive all-round football player who can run, catch and block. Proulx has the ability to cut, plant, and turn the corner. He is quick but lacks a breakaway gear. Luke is strong and has excellent balance. He runs much harder than you would ever expect based on his size. At the FBS level Proulx would be wise not to try to take on every tackler like he did last year and remain healthy. He chose Army over interest from Air Force and Montana.
Last year at USMAPS Jared Rogers started the year at C back and returned kickoffs. Rogers is a 5-8, 185 pound running back from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a high school senior in 2010 Jared rushed for over 1,500 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. Rogers also returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. Rogers, in the USMAPS opener against Army JV, made an tremendous leaping catch of a poorly thrown pass for a 22-yard gain. Later in the game, returning a kickoff, he broke a tackle for an long gain. Rogers made a terrific cut back touchdown run against Kings College JV. In the win over Globe Institute, Rogers showed his burst and run skills on a few plays. He carried a defender into the end zone on a fly sweep for a 4-yard touchdown. The following week against Valley Forge Jared was hurt and knocked out of the game. He didn't play the rest of the season.
Jared Rogers is a nifty, elusive runner with deceptive quickness and body control. He has tremendous run vision and can usually make the first man miss. He can change direction, juke and accelerate. Jared possesses excellent hands. He lacks pure speed (4.63 in the 40 yard dash speed at the Junior Under Armor combine) but can get to the edge and plays faster than he times. He was listed last season the same size as Haskins but, to be honest, he was physically a lot smaller. Jared was rather skinny and frail and has worked hard in the weight room to add nearly 15 pounds this off-season. He has a tiny frame so his ability to block and stay healthy are definite areas of concern. Jared will need to spend some time in strength coach Brett Gerch's weight room. Rogers chose Army over offers from Navy and Central Arkansas.
Matt Giachinta (6-1, 215) is a good athlete who attended the United States Military Academy Prep School last fall. Giachinta was injured during preseason camp and missed the entire season. He is a local product who played his high school in nearby northern New Jersey at Paramus Catholic. Matt played fullback his junior year and rushed for 600 yards and six touchdowns. As a senior, in 2010, Giachinta carried the ball for 850 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. On defense he made 40 tackles and posted five sacks. Matt is a well-built player who was expected to play A or B back before his injury.
He could also transition to defense at Rover or Bandit linebacker. Giachinta chose Army over offers from Richmond, Maine, Penn and Towson.
Next: A look at the Incoming Wide Receivers.