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GBK’s 3-Star Report

Former Rivals 3-star center and Army football captain, Bryce Holland
Former Rivals 3-star center and Army football captain, Bryce Holland

The Class of 2023 that reported in on R-Day this week includes 4 Rivals three-star recruits. Brandon Mays, Kenesi Leomiti and Cameron Jones were members for Jeff Monken’s 2019 recruiting class who spent a year at USMAPS before reporting in, while Carson Shaffer is coming in direct from Celina, Texas with a Rivals 3 star rating in this years recruiting class.

Army fans usually have great expectations of the three star recruits; so here at GoBlackKnights.com, we decided to take a look back at all the three-stars that have come in under Jeff Monken to see how they fared.

2014 Bryce Holland 

Bryce Holland was the lone three-star from the recruiting class of 2014 who made it to West Point on R-Day He was one of the recruits that was originally contacted by Rich Ellerson and he came in direct from Chandler, Arizona. Another three-star recruit on Ellerson’s list flipped to Navy after Monken took over as head coach.

Clearly Holland lived up to all expectations, earning starts in three games as a plebe before an injury put him on the sidelines for his entire yearling season. He returned to earn a spot on the Rimington Watch List two years in a row, and was named a team captain this past season. In addition to his selection to the Rimington Award list, he was named to the 2018 USA Today and Sports Illustrated All-Bowl Teams, the 2017 ESPN All-Bowl Team, the 2018 All ECAC First Team, and the 2017 and 2018 All-Independent First Teams.

2015 James Gibson and Kenneth Brinson

Academic All-American Kenneth Brinson
Academic All-American Kenneth Brinson (GoBlackKnights.com)

Kenneth Brinson was a Rivals three star LB and an NFF scholar athlete finalist when he reported in direct from Kenesaw, Georgia in 2015. He played in every game in his four year career at West Point, earning a starting spot in 6 games as a plebe and starting every game after that. Over his 4 year career, he recorded 131 total tackles, including 22 TFLs and 13 Sacks. He had 2 interceptions and returned one punt for a 21 yard touchdown. He maintained a 4.0 average and was was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2017 and 2018. He was a Campbell Trophy finalist in 2018 and earned a spot on the All-Independent First Team as a senior and All-Independent Second Team as a junior.

James Gibson took a little longer to break into the starting lineup, but he lived up to his three-star billing soon enough. Gibby was recruited out of Virginia as a safety, but started his career as the backup SAM and nickel back, appearing in 10 games with one start as a plebe, recording a modest 4 total tackles. He advanced to a starting role in 2016 and ended his yearling season with 19 tackles including 0.5 TFLs. He became a full-time starter in 2017 recording 45 tackles from his safety position, including a game saving tackle against Eastern Michigan that was featured in the season highlights. He finished his career with 109 tackles including 5.0 TFLs and 2.5 Sacks. He was named to the 2017 All-Independent Second Team.

2016 - Kjetl Cline and Christian Gomez

Kjetl Cline entered West Point direct out of talent rich IMG Academy with a Rivals three-star rating as a Wide Receiver. He began his football career as a slotback, appearing in one game as a plebe. He moved to wide receiver in his yearling season and played in all 12 games, carrying the ball once for 23 yards and recording one reception for 9 yards. He was a regular in the lineup this past season, seeing action in 12 of Army’s 13 games. He had 3 receptions, including a career high 54 yard reception in the Armed Forces Bowl.

WR Kjetl Cline
WR Kjetl Cline ()

Christian Gomez spent a year at USMAPS before entering West Point in 2017. Gomez serves as a reminder that there’s not all that much difference between the top end of the two-star ranks and the bottom of the three-star ratings. Gomez never lived up to his three-star rating and eventually left the academy.

2017 - No Three-Star Recruits in the Rivals List

2018 - Cade Barnard, Brandon Mays, Kenese Leoneti, Cameron Jones, and Marcus Mosley

Cade Barnard in-the-house
Cade Barnard in-the-house (Rivals.com)

Monken’s staff made up for the dirth of three-star recruits in 2017 by landing 5 Rivals three-star recruits from the 2018 recruiting class. Cade Barnard was the only one of the 5 who came in direct in 2018, and he has yet to make his mark, but with the surplus of fullbacks, including 3 very talented seniors on the roster last year, that was to be expected. We expect to see a lot more of Barnard this season, despite the return of two regulars at that position.

Marcus Mosley never made his way to West Point and is currently enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches Tx.

We mentioned the remaining 3 three-stars at the top of this report. We look forward to tracking the progress of all the newly arrived three-stars along with a lot of lesser rated recruits as they vie for spots on the fields of friendly strife.

Closing GBK Comments:

As reported often, and especially pointed out in our commentary ‘It’s Is Not Always About The Starts & Rankings’ a years ago ... but more so it is about Head Coach Jeff Monken and his staff’s ability to develop each and every player despite their incoming ranking or how many stars that have been designated to them ... which is not an easy task, but yet they have accomplished this, which lead the Army Black Knights to becoming the No. 19th ranked college football program in the nation in 2018.

Now, don’t get us wrong, recruiting top ranked players is essential to the program and the staff would love to continue to pull in quality prospects such as Holland, Brinson and Gibson and as you see, they have and will continue to so, which is a great formula for the continued success of the Army Black Knights.

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