Carolina Chaos attackman Brian Minicus

Incumbent or newcomer: Who starts at X for Chaos?

By Hayden Lewis | May 24, 2024

As the Chaos switch from two-man games to two-handed dodgers on offense, a position battle at the X attack position may ensue.

Carolina’s X attackman last year was rookie Brian Minicus. Minicus is known as “Minnow” around the league for his fleet-footedness and ability to change direction while dodging in a snap of a finger, and he holds the advantage in the battle heading into training camp.

After a stellar rookie season that featured 24 points (15G, 9A), Minicus is primed for a polished sophomore campaign. To reach that standard and excel in Year 2, Minicus needs to enhance his game as an X attackman.

The first area the eyes may scan is turnovers, but ball security wasn’t a major issue for Minicus.

Minicus had the fourth-most giveaways in the league and most among rookie players last year with 24. Although that total isn’t promising at a macro level, the 24 turnovers came in 367 touches, meaning Minicus turned the ball over on 6.5% of his touches -- an excitingly low number.

Compared to other high-volume attackmen like Rob Pannell and Kieran McArdle, Minicus is doing solid. Pannell had 420 touches in 2023 and lost the ball 39 times - meaning Pannell gave the ball away on 9.3% of his touches. On McArdle’s 330 touches, he had 24 turnovers (7.3%).

Maintaining possession isn’t the issue for Minicus, but he can take a step when it comes to creating his own looks. Last year Minicus shot 25.4%, scoring 15 goals, but he only took 59 shots.

Minicus needs to work on initiating his dodges from closer to the crease to put his defenders in uncomfortable situations below goal line extended. The blazing first step Minicus has allows him to surprise defenders when he starts his engine, and his ability to split and change direction gives him all kinds of free space. However, last year Minicus dodged from deep near the endline, allowing defenses to slide and close down the open gaps he created for himself.

Dodging from tighter in, Minicus can engage his defender and either gas right by them to create a chance wrapping from GLE, or stop on a dime and work the other way to create a shot on the opposite side of the field.

An uptick in shots from Minicus should mean an uptick in goals because he does a great job slating shots past netminders.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Minicus start at X Week 1 against Denver, but he will face some challengers in training camp.

The Main Contender

Carolina's third-round draft pick out of Rutgers, Ross Scott, is Minicus’ No. 1 challenger heading into camp. Scott, like Minicus, is known for his racecar-like zero-to-sixty speed. In the blink of an eye, Scott can dart past his defender from below GLE and score from within seven yards or feed his teammates for open looks.

At Rutgers, Scott was the team's primary ball-handler at X for three seasons and scored 162 of his 182 points in those three seasons.

Scott and Minicus have eerily similar styles of play but have different tendencies in their games. Minicus is the taller of the two attackmen and plays with less care for his body, constantly diving through the crease to score goals. Scott plays a more laid-back game and doesn’t risk his body against the mammoth-built poles of this generation.

Chaos head coach and general manager Andy Towers loves players who play aggressively and confidently. He wants his guys to play with hunger and attitude, fighting inside the whistles to win games.

Scott has shown flashes of this kind of play in his own game as recently as the final regular-season game of his college career against Penn State. In the first quarter, Scott controlled the Rutgers offense, scoring a goal and adding an assist. Scott looked confident in every decision he made, but in that same game, the confidence disappeared after a couple of poor possessions.

In the PLL, Scott needs to play with a shorter memory and tap into his takeover ability consistently to be a good player in the league.

Scott can quarterback a team in the PLL from X, but learning from his veteran teammates and enhancing his game from out of the box will be just as beneficial long term.

The Dark Horse Candidate

Jules Heningburg is an under-the-radar candidate to be the X attackman for the Chaos this upcoming season. Heningburg is an excellent facilitator on offense and takes pride in being an offense quarterback.

Carolina signed Heningburg to be the righty attackman, but a shift down to X wouldn’t be hard for the 28-year-old, who played the role at multiple points in his career.

At the X attack position, Heningburg can work his one-on-one matchups with no issue because of his smooth dodging ability. Heningburg also possesses the innate ability to dodge with his head up, allowing him to pick defenses apart like Tom Brady in the clutch.

Heningburg is capable of controlling the Chaos offense from below GLE at X, but his best fit for now is as the righty attackman.

Week 1 Starter Prediction: Brian Minicus

Heningburg will run as the righty attackman and Scott will work out of the box. If Minicus runs into a hard matchup who is holding him up defensively, Towers can slide Scott down low to run the offense and free up his second-year guy.

To have three viable options at X is a blessing for Towers and will allow him and his staff to scheme up dangerous looks with all three players at the position.