Just weighing in on what we saw and heard throughout spring ball practices and after the spring game. We feel these guys saw their stock rise from the start to finish: DISCLAIMER - We are only addressing guys that were off the radar or had a lot to prove and did so. Upperclassmen who were obvious #1’s coming in were not addressed in the following:
Offense – ‘Stock Up’
- The QB position – junior Joey Bradley and senior Braden Hanson both have this offense going in the right direction. This competition in fall camp will be healthy for the team overall. While we expect Hanson to come out as the #1 guy, we won’t be surprised if Bradley challenges him all the way and could possibly be the starter for week 1. Bradley has proved to be a very important player moving forward this spring, regardless if he starts or not. We think his signing out of junior college has been more than justified. He has made major progress in one year.
- Shea Walker – the more experience this kid gets, the more we notice him. The sophomore from Cretin-Derham Hall provides the offensive line with flexibility at both guard spots and could even possibly play some center if needed. He’s always had the physical ability; now the mental side is coming around.
- True freshman ‘hogs’ – Brandon Anderson, Ross Windfeldt, Sean Meehan and Jace Hellman all received valuable reps this spring and performed admirably overall against a very talented, athletic and experienced defensive line and outside linebacker crew. They will be hard-pressed to find tougher competition up-front in the Big Sky. All 4 will be in the mix on the ‘2-deep’ up front next year and will be big players in the future for the UND O-line.
- Wide Receiver – already well-documented and discussed, this crew is probably the strength of the UND offense for talent and depth. With a top 5 of Greg Hardin, RJ McGill, Blair Townsend, Tyrhe Ivery and Jameer Jackson, we all saw the kind of matchup problems they can and will cause next year for opposing defenses. Jackson got a lot of press this spring but will still be #5 entering fall camp and has a lot of work to do mentally to become a more complete receiver. He also needs to become a more polished route runner and still needs to get faster. Townsend showed he is a lock to be in the top 4 rotation come fall.
- Zach Adler – the freshman tight end from Nebraska had a solid spring and showed his athleticism and versatility. Still has a ways to go but will be a contributor in the near future.
Defense – ‘Stock Up’
- Kyle Woodsmall – the freshman defensive end from Missouri, although a bit undersized at 6’4″-235, showed the ability to handle the rigors of playing defensive end in a 3-4 scheme and has good athletic ability. Another summer in the weight room to put on some pounds will definitely benefit him. If he can get his playing weight up to 250, he could be a force. He has the frame to easily do it and should be in the mix for backup duty playing time during his redshirt freshman season.
- Seth Stanchik – the junior from Hudson, WI is finally healed up from a nasty broken leg suffered in 2010. He showed the ability to play the defensive end position soundly and should log a fair amount of reps for the Sioux in 2012.
- Linebackers Ben Peters and Will Ratelle had good springs and will be in the mix for starting/backup duties at the ILB positions. We see Peters having a real shot at starting with Ratelle being a #2 or #3 while playing on most special teams.
- Cornerback Rumeal Harris from Eden Prairie really stuck out this spring and was a pleasant surprise. He maybe could push for the starting corner spot opposite Daryl Brown. If he is successful UND could be starting an all-metro corner tandem with Brown being from Wayzata. Regardless, he should be a backup at either corner and play on special teams.
Another amazing storyline is that the team virtually came out of spring practices without one major injury – a miracle to say the least. However, we expect to learn of some defections/departures soon, as is the case every year following spring ball shakeout/depth chart changes. We’ll keep you updated.