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Entering Army’s season opener against Rice today, the Black Knights’ top two players at the all-important fullback were never in question during the preseason.

Senior Connor Slomka and junior Sandon McCoy ascended up the depth chart with the graduation of Darnell Woolfolk, Andy Davidson and Calen Holt.

Army rolled as many as five fullbacks in games last season. Who stepped up behind Slomka and McCoy over the last month?

Freshman JaKobi Buchanan is one name that Army fans will get to know early this season.

Coach Jeff Monken said Buchanan is the No. 3 fullback Friday. Sophomore Cade Barnard and senior Rashaad Bolton follow Buchanan, who is wearing Woolfolk’s old No. 33.

“I think all of those guys will play (against Rice),” Monken said. “He’s (Buchanan) is a big, thick guy. I think he’s doing a good job. He played in the (Army) Prep school program last year. I think that gave him a little of an advantage.”

Army fullbacks look bigger physically across the board than they have in past years with the addition of Buchanan, sophomore Kaelin Byrd and highly-touted freshman Anthony Adkins

“When we took Cade Barnard (220 pounds), we’re thinking this is a big, physical B-back and he’s not as big as (Buchanan and Byrd),” Monken said. “Anthony Adkins, who has been hurt, is enormous. He’s 6-3, 240 pounds. Who knows what he will be able to carry and carry well.

“For as much as we do inside the tackles, they got to poke their nose in the defense and puncture the defense with the ball or be a lead blocker for the quarterback. They might end up blocking the defensive end or a linebacker that is sticking his face in from the outside. Those are physical collisions and it helps to have some of those bigger guys.”