The UND Football team has five practices under their belts. Even though they just put pads on for the first time yesterday, one thing is becoming clear: multiple true freshman are going to need to play in 2014.
Here are the names that we think have a chance to have their red-shirts pulled and potentially make the travel roster for the opener vs. San Jose State August 28th.
DISCLAIMER: We are only going off the physical talent we can see on the field. We have no idea on each player’s mental capacity for learning the playbook, overall maturity, physical toughness and whether or not they can handle the academic and athletic requirements it takes to be successful as a true freshman, which are all huge variables.
- #64 OL Jake Francis - As we wrote back in February, Francis’ versatility is of significant value. That versatility has already come into play as he has been recently moved to center to help out a position of need. There is depth there, however, with transfer Colton Boas and former Red River standout Jace Hellman. But Francis has really impressed the coaches with his footwork and work ethic. He is on the lighter side for an OL (270-280) so center makes sense. Francis would be able to pull and get out on the edge. Making the protection calls will be his biggest hurdle.
- #18 CB Chris Carter – Carter is as hard-nosed of a competitor as we have seen in years for a true freshman. Kid loves to compete and get after it, which is probably his best attribute – great traits for a cornerback. He is a bit undersized at a little over 5’9″ and has what we would call decent speed, but he has been taught how to play DB extremely well by the Brother Rice coaching staff. Technique can be a cure-all for any deficiencies in height and/or speed. He also has excellent fundamentals while the ball is in the air and doesn’t shy away from contact. Carter will more than likely take some lumps early but has the ability to be a good rotational player for UND on defense and will more than likely be a big contributor on special teams if the staff decides to pull his redshirt.
- #43 DE Drew Greely – UND needs more playmakers at the defensive end position and Greely could bring that ability. He is still a bit undersized weight-wise at 240+ but he has the twitch to make plays and be disruptive in the backfield. Fellow freshman Brandon Dranka brings these same traits and could also be a candidate.
- #5 WR Dev Ferguson – The WR position needs to be re-tooled after last season’s mass exodus. All indications are that Ferguson has the most raw talent of the freshman WR’s and could be a guy to help bring it back to where it was talent-wise. At 6’3″ he would bring much needed height but he is also very good at going up and getting the ball at it’s highest point. He does have a lower body injury right now and is sitting out, which will not help his cause. In college you need to be on the field to play. Coaches go with whoever they can rely on and Ferguson will need to get back on the field for the rest of fall camp if he wants to play this fall. The big question is can Ferguson learn the offense to the point where the coaching staff is confident to get him on the field early and often.
- #10 WR Brandon Walker – Nipping at the heels of Ferguson in the talent category is Walker, who much like Ferguson, brings good size (6’1″-185) and very good route running/hands to the table when discussing who can help out the WR position. He has already turned some heads with his overall play and we could easily see him getting his shirt pulled and being on the travel roster to San Jose. The UND WR situation is unsettled to the say the least on the depth chart. There is plenty of jockeying for position going on in this group and this battle will go down to the end of fall camp.
—>> A few freshman who are really looking good, but won’t probably have their redshirts pulled are #81 TE/WR Luke Stanley, #34 TE Luke Fiedler and #19 DB Deion Harris. We are in wait and see mode on Stanley to see how and where he ultimately fits best on the field. Right now, he’s a hybrid; undersized at TE and not fast enough to play WR. However, he could be a poential difference maker starting in 2015. Fiedler looks the part of the tall, rangy, pass-catching TE. He needs to put on 15-20 pounds but when he does he will be real weapon in this offense. Harris wears #19 and I swore I was looking at Kenny Golladay. Harris is very tall cornerback (all of 6’3″) and has quite the wingspan. After a year in the weight room, along with working on his fundamentals, Harris is going to be a unique corner that UND has never really had before.