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August 24, 2011
Big-time talent in the trenches at Hargrave
CHATHAM, Va. - It's nothing new for Hargrave Military Academy's post-grad football team to be loaded with talented personnel, and head coach Troy Davis has seen some of the top players to ever pass through the century-old school in recent years as both an assistant and head coach.
Heading into his second season at the helm at Hargrave, Davis finds himself leading a team with lots of upside that includes four prospects that have committed to BCS schools.
"I'm very impressed. I always try to build inside-out and we said our goal was to work with the linemen, and I'm pleased with that. We have that," said Davis Monday at Hargrave's annual Media Day.
"To have a big, huge line, we haven't had that in a couple of years. So we're trying to get a lot of things accomplished with that," Davis added.
Much of the team's top talent is along the defense line, and one of the linemen that figures to make a difference is 6-foot-5, 290-pounder Kevin Dodd, a Clemson pledge who could wind up getting reps at multiple positions for Hargrave this fall.
"We've got a lot of talent out here. Everybody has got their different levels of talent. I really think people should fear Hargrave this year, because we've got a lot of talent," Dodd said. "We know it's an aggressive sport, so we're going to come out and play aggressive."
"Kevin Dodd, I want to say he's going to be a phenomenal player. But right now he's a kid that hasn't been away from home. Coming into this atmosphere, he's trying to adjust to it and he's coming along. He's taking it day-by-day," said Davis.
"We're going to play him at both (defensive end and tackle). He's a kid that I see projected, he's eventually going to play some tackle. It will be just like how we had (Clemson signee) Corey Crawford."
"With him (Dodd), coming into this environment from a physical standpoint, what it takes to go through to the next level, that's something that he's really picking up and saying, 'Wow, I thought it would be a little easier,' and he's realizing its tough," Davis added.
Another Hargrave defensive lineman that should give fits to opposing teams this season is 6-foot-4, 230-pounder Desimon Green, who is committed to Texas Tech.
Hargrave has opened Green's eyes not only to better competition, but also what it will take for him to be an impact player at the next level from a stamina and endurance standpoint.
"I'm from Single-A (classification high school football in Pennsylvania), where I was always the biggest and strongest. Here's it's better competition overall. It gets me better and everyone else," said Green. "It's been good."
"I've never been pushed like I'm being pushed now. In high school I was never in tip-top shape, but here I'll be in tip-top shape, and my playing ability will be way, way better," Green added.
Green initially committed to play at Pittsburgh, but now he's planning on playing his college football at Texas Tech, where former Hargrave head coach and current Red Raiders assistant Robert Prunty works.
"My recruiter, Robert Prunty, he recruited me the hardest. Even when I was committed to Pitt, he never fell off," Green said.
Like most of the players on Hargrave's post-grad team, Green needs to improve his academics in order to move on to the college level.
"I need 20 more points (on my test score), so I've just got to get better and work harder while I'm here," Green said.
While Dodd and Green are going to provide much of Hargrave's muscle along the defensive line, North Carolina commitment Christian Russell is going to play a key role at linebacker.
"Christian Russell is going to help us out tremendously. He's a kid that I really like," said Davis.
"It's good being around all this competition. You get to see what you can really do around a lot of good players and stuff, so it's been a great experience for me so far," added Russell.
"Practice is good. It's all competition everywhere. If you're not working hard, that next man is ready to knock you out. Everybody is good, so you've got to do what you've got to do," Russell continued.
Russell is going to play mostly inside linebacker early in the season for Hargrave, but the former two-way standout from Raeford, N.C., could possibly see some action at running back as well as the season goes on.
"Christian can do it all. So don't be surprised to see Christian with his hand down," said Coach Davis. "He's 260 (pounds). So I'm going to keep playing him (at linebacker) until the middle of the season, until he plays at a weight he's more comfortable at (for running back)---240, 235."
"Right now I'm playing linebacker, but later on in the year I'll play some running back when he (Coach Davis) says he's ready for me, but right now it's mostly linebacker," Russell said. "I miss running back. I miss running the ball sometimes, but it's all good."
Another defensive prospect who will likely make an impact for Hargrave this fall is Jashaud Sims, a 6-5, 200-pound defensive back.
Sims is a unique player who is taking his talents to Arkansas.
"It's the SEC. It's been my dream. I'm real excited," Sims said about why he chose Arkansas.
"I've been in communication with (Razorbacks' defensive ends) coach (Steve) Caldwell. They just said to work hard, and it's going to be better when I get there," Sims added.
Sims was honest about the fact that he wasn't happy about being at Hargrave, but he knows its the best thing for him to get his academics in order.
"I don't like it," he said. "But I'm just going to work hard and not give up. I know it's going to get harder than this."