Believe or not, fall football practice is only about two months away.
This is something I wanted to post a long time ago — and I’m not going to five you the spiel about being busy either, I just never got around to posting it — and it’s something that’ll help get us into the football spirit heading into this week’s Badlands Bowl all-star football game.
So, here it is, a summer breakdown of Dickinson State football with a projected two-deep depth chart and a little about what you can expect out of the returning players and newcomers this season.
*Please note this was supposed to have fun pictures with it too. But AreaVoices.com is apparently not going to let that happen today.*
DSU returns eight offensive starters (a loose term, by the way), including senior quarterback Cody Holland and senior tight end Derek Pauley.
While I say starters, six of those returning with starting experience are offensive linemen. “Great!” you’re probably saying since it seems like it has been forever since the Blue Hawks had a talented group of linemen returning. But, remember that of these six returners, three missed much or part of last season with injuries that allowed other linemen who are now back to step into starting roles. Because of this, expect a couple interesting position battles. At center, sophomore Doug Staley is back after a somewhat shaky freshman year. Interestingly, a lot of players I’ve talked to said Staley is going to be pushed hard this fall by Jerome Hoffman, a sophomore who was a stud at Bismarck High.
Senior Aaron Cook and Jess Furhman will likely slide into the left and right tackle spots, respectively. But don’t forget about Kyle Enebo, who played solid last season before injuring his knee. Cook and Enebo both went down in Week X against Valley City State. Cook sat out spring practice after reconstructive surgery to his right knee.
Sophomore Carl Dynneson should be back in a starting role after stepping in nicely and turning some heads as a true freshman. Ry O’Connor is also back after being diagnosed with mono between DSU’s second and third games. It is unclear whether or not he has been granted a medical hardship by the NAIA and will be able to return this season as a sophomore. Another guy who will try to fight for some playing time is Lucas Runyon, a sophomore who was moved over from the defensive line during spring practice.
At the skill positions, Holland and Pauley give DSU some good experience. But after that, the questions are numerous. At receiver, sophomore Tanner Leak and redshirt freshman Jimmy Smith were impressive during spring practices while redshirt freshman Scott Bially was another name that crept up as a wideout who could see some playing time. It’ll be tough for DSU to replace wideouts Blaine Berg and Clint Grosz … for a while. Leak, Smith, Bially and their cohorts will eventually step in nicely. It may take a couple weeks to get everything going smoothly, but everything will work out fine because the talent in there.
Running back may hold the most serious questions for the Blue Hawks this season. While DSU returns experience with senior Jeremy Herr, junior Tyler Grosz and sophomores Presley Straub and Rashad Williams, none of them have ever seen the field as the No. 1 back. Herr has shown flashes that he has the skills to be a featured back on occasion, but he’s small and likely will never be a 20-to-25-carry a game back. Unless DSU brings in another running back in the fall semester, ala James Macey in 2008, it’s very likely that you’ll see a lot of guys getting touches from the halfback spot. DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said he also likes redshirt freshman Brennan Haughian, but thinks he may develop better into a running and pass-catching fullback.
DSU brings back nine starters on defense, losing only linebacker Mike Keyser, safety Devean Washington and part-time starter at defensive tackle John Tuchscherer. I hate to be tough here, but the only one whose loss will be felt to a great degree will be Keyser.
Dakota Holland, Cody Holland’s younger, lankier brother and a transfer from Humboldt State in California, was impressive in spring practices as a safety while Taylor Grunefelder, a junior transfer from the University of Mary, junior Nic Nicastro and sophomore Jay Grosz were in a fight to take over Keyser’s vacated position.
Having those three guys fighting for that spot is only going to strengthen DSU’s already salty interior defense. Just look at the depth chart below to see the guys they have coming back in there. Jason Kraft, nose guard Jamie Walker, outside linebacker Bobie Tobin, defensive tackles Seth Forster and Luke Steiner are all seniors. Personally, I think Kraft is primed to have a big senior year. He’s improved each of the past two seasons, all but taking over the defensive captaincy late last season. Plus the kid has been in the weight room all summer and looks like he has put a decent amount of muscle.
In the secondary, Dakota Holland solidifies a group that includes Derion Williams and Sean Russell, returning starters at cornerback, and safety Jamie Sigl. Pass defense was the Blue Hawks’ Achilles’ heel last season and, from the sound of things, they’ve done quite a bit to make sure it won’t be again.
Overall the DSU defense that was easily the Dakota Athletic Conference’s best last season looks like it could be even better in 2010. Especially considering guys like sophomore outside linebacker Zach McCoy, redshirt freshmen linemen Colton Hill and Sam Herauf and junior defensive back Trevor Willis are backups yet would likely start for many DAC teams.
Everyone is back here. Cole Zamira returns as the team’s placekicker (Is this a good thing or not? You be the judge.) and Sean Russell is back to punt after booting the heck out of the ball last season. Williams and Leak will likely be the two main returners unless someone else emerges during fall camp or Biesiot and his staff want to keep either of them from suffering an injury.
Projected two deep coming into fall camp (returning starters in bold)
QB – Cody Holland / Dave Velasquez
RB – Jeremy Herr / Presley Straub
FB – Brennan Haughian / Tyler Grosz
WR – Tanner Leak / Nakoa Baker
TE – Derek Pauley / Nate Zachmann
RT – Jess Fuhrman / Kyle Enebo
RG – Carl Dynneson / Lucas Runyon
C – Doug Staley / Jerome Hoffman
LG – Ry O’Connor / Lucas Runyon
LT – Aaron Cook / Kyle Enebo
WR – Jimmy Smith / Scott Bially
OLB – Bobie Tobin / Zach McCoy
DT – Seth Forster / Spencer Running
NG – Jamie Walker / Sam Herauf
DT – Luke Steiner / Colton Hill
OLB – Jarel Hafner / Matt Seibert
MLB – Jason Kraft / Nic Nicastro
MLB – Taylor Grunfelder / Jay Grosz
CB – Sean Russell / Trevor Willis
CB – Derion Williams / Mike Fisher
FS – Dakota Holland / Jacob Erhardt
SS – Jamie Sigl / Cade Flaten
K – Cole Zamira
P – Sean Russell
KR – Derion Williams
PR – Tanner Leak