During the spring, most of the Fall Depth Chart should be finalized. We have at least five positions that are in play in this spring.
Contenders: Christian Jones and Telvin Smith
Dark Horse: Chad Abram
Christian Jones has to be the favorite heading into spring but a lot depends on how much weight Telvin is able to add during the offseason. Telvin was able to make a lot of plays last year even though he was substantially undersized. Jones not only looks the part but also has shown flashes of brilliance. If Jones is able to play more consistently, I see this position as an upgrade over last year. Alexander was a great hitter last year but was still learning how to play Linebacker last year.
Don’t sleep on Abram. If he was able to maintain his athleticism with the added weight and can take on blocks. He offers a dynamic option at LB. Abram would have had a different rating coming out of HS if he was a 237 pound LB with safety speed.
Contenders: Werner and Carradine
Dark Horse: Onwukaife
I’m probably in the minority but I think Werner has a great shot at starting in the fall. Werner unlike most true freshmen is twenty and was a move or two away last year of being a dominant player. He was the first player, I’ve seen in long time that was able to physically push around Offensive Tackles. If he adds a push pull move they will not be able to anchor against him. Carradine is an athletic freak who could be one and done kid. His film simply dominant and the spring should afford him the opportunity to unseat Werner.
I don’t think Onwukaife has a real shot to beat out either Werner or Carradine but I do think he’ll end up at DE. He’ll have a much better shot getting playing time at DE.
Contenders: Vince Williams and Jeff Luc
Dark Horse: Nigel Terrell
The question remains if either Vince or Jeff has enough flexibility in their hips to be counted on this year. Both guys are physically big enough to dominate the game at the point of attack but have a tough time changing direction or in coverage. Right now, I have to think Vince is the favorite with Jeff on his heels. I don’t expect this battle to be over until fall camp. If either player doesn’t step up, it would not surprise me if Nigel Bradham slides inside and Christian slides to Will leaving Telvin and Chad to fight it out for the Sam spot.
Terrell was recruited as OLB but Kendall was really an OLB playing inside last year. We are going to be so big inside that Terrell may be able to play pretty clean allowing his speed to come into play. To date either Luc or Williams have impressed me and moving Terrell inside is just another idea to solve what I think is the weakest position on next year’s defense.
Contenders: Jacob Fahrenkrug and Henry Orelus
Dark Horse: Blake Snider
Fahrenkrug has to be the leader in the clubhouse due to his massive size. Trickett didn’t fly to South Dakota six times for a backup guard.
Snider is really a distance dark horse. I think he’ll take some snaps at LG but will see the majority of his time at RG.
Contenders: Henry Orelus and Bryan Stork
Dark Horse: Lovelady and Pettis
IMHO, when I look at Orelus I see little Rodney Hudson. Henry is built to play center, it’s just a question of whether he can get the calls down. He has plenty of speed to block guys in space but offers a little bit more weight in the butt then McMahon. Bryan Stork is the linemen the coaches seem to love and want to get on the field. He’s clearly athletic enough to play Center. This should be a great battle.
Lovelady and Pettis could end up getting a serious look but I think it’s doubtful either starts. Both Stork and Orelus have been in the program for a while so their technique has to be pretty good. The big separator though has to be physical strength, it’s tough for a High School Senior to be strong enough to battle in the trenches as a true freshmen