September 27, 2012

Lawrence says he's back, optimistic & ready

When you are a wide receiver in Army's triple option offense, your mindset is unlike the typical wideouts at other programs who have catch the ball as their primary objective and block .... well, blocking is not even really part of the equation.

For sophomore Chevaughn Lawrence, who is a product of the USMAPS, he has finally accepted the responsibilities and role that are part of his job description. Which require him to bead down on defensive backs all day long, where in fact he just might see 2-3 passes ... on a good day.

The 6-foot-3, 205 pounder, who has all the physical tools and offers a tremendous target as well as opportunity for the nation's leading rushing offense to change the pace from time to time. A portion of that was on display on Saturday against Wake Forest, albeit one reception for 45 yards.

Noticing the potential that the Fairview Heights (Ill.) native adds to the Black Knights' 'O', many Army fans wonder why the utilization of his arsenal isn't put on display more often.

Perhaps the more operative term is Underutilized, as Lawrence is tied for the team lead in receptions with two. But even with that, Lawrence appeared torn between playing football and basketball during his freshmen campaign. With that distraction apparently out of his system, then came summer camp of his sophomore year, where his progression was hindered by a groin injury.

Hence, Lawrence found himself on the outside looking in, attempting to fight his way back up the depth charts.

"Yes, I pulled my groin the second day of pre-season .... of training camp and I've just been trying to get healthy," confesses Lawrence. "I'm not there (100%) yet, but I've been working with the trainer every week so I can get on the field and go at it. I come in early in the morning to get some extra stretching in to loosen it up."

"He's improved his game, he's gotten himself back healthy and that's allowed him to practice," says wide receiver coach, Andy Guyader. "That's allowed him to work on getting better and work the game. He's going to keep getting better and it's going to be fun to see."

According to Lawrence, he feels that he still progressing and once the whistle blows it is his intention to give it his all. "On game day I try to go full, because if I let anyone know, the I know I'm not going to be in there," shares Lawrence, as he chuckles at his own comments.

Needless to say, Lawrence's first start of the 2012 season came as a result of the domino effect. When starting slotback and fellow sophomore Terry Baggett went down with a knee injury against NIU, the following game starting WR, Malcolm Brown was summoned back to his old slotback spot, opening the way for Lawrence to get his first starting nod of the 2012 campaign.

So on Saturday, Lawrence knocked off the rust and provided a preview of could be, or at least the coaches and fans hope there is more come from the sophomore. "There was no free safety so it was just me and the corner," adds Lawrence. "We've done it tons of times in practice, so it was kind of routine. Then Trent (Steelman) threw a great ball, I pulled it in, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get into the end-zone ... still trying to get that groin better."

Certainly," response the Black Knights' receiver when asked if a 100% Lawrence would have outrun the Wake Forest defensive back. "The groin has slowed me down a little bit, but I would have beaten the defender."

For Lawrence, getting the call last Saturday to step into the spot vacated with Brown's move to slotback would serve as a booster to his confidence.

"It gave me a little bit of confidence there knowing that the staff was saying to me that they needed me to step up and fill this role ... of course I was happy to do so," adds Lawrence, who along with his teammates are preparing delinquently for their must win match-up against Stony Brook.

"We are going to treat it like any other game," he says. "They are a good opponent and just because they're not Division One doesn't mean that we're not going to go hard. This week we've had a really good week of practice, fast tempo .... so we are just going to continue to do what we've been doing and making improvements in every position, because we can get a little bit better each week."

"We are hungry to get a win and like I said, we are going to treat the game like Coach Ellerson says, if it's against Oklahoma or Stony Brook, we are going do what we know what to do. We have been close the last couple of weeks and believe we are really get it done this week, offensively and defensively."

Starting Nod

With Brown's duties now regulated to slotback, look for Lawrence to join Patrick Laird to make up Army's starting duo at wide receiver.

Going into Saturday's contest Laird and Lawrence will be the first players to go out there and then you will see a little E.J. Tucker. Add to the group, Scott Williams, who's playing time seems to be regulated when the Black Knights go into their open formation. Anthony Stephens is still in the mix, although his playing time has been limited.

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