When I talked to Joe Glenn late last week, I asked him about his first impressions after what was then nearing one week of practice. Obviously, there is only so much you’re going to be able to say with any confidence at that point, but he was genuinely impressed with the level of commitment to the cause.
“I think they want it,” Glenn said. “I feel that. They know we have to get better and they know we have to get better faster than everyone else in the league, so they’re trying hard. I think the talent level is up – there are plays being made.”
Glenn recounted an interception made by Tyler Starr that the preseason All-American returned for a touchdown – this, in half-contact.
“He finished it up with a 360 dunk over the bar of the goalposts,” Glenn said. “I told him he didn’t clear it and he said he cleared it easy.”
Watching Starr over the last two years occasionally goofing around on the basketball court after lifting, I’m going to side with the linebacker on that debate. The dude can hammer it.
But back to football…
“You can tell Josh has a year,” Glenn continued. “The offensive line has had a year. We have seven of them who have started a college football game, and that’s a difference. We’ll see, but I really think we’re tougher on offense than a year ago – we have more physical toughness.”
On the freshmen:
There are 28 true freshmen listed on the USD fall roster and it’s extremely unlikely, based on the numbers alone, that they’re all going on the redshirt shelf for a year. It’s really difficult to predict which guys are going to end up playing and which are not, but there are several candidates for seeing action immediately. You could point toward a lack of depth and/or the overall talent level of the incoming class as the reason for that.
A year ago, Sioux Falls Washington High School’s Keyen Lage ended up starting at linebacker as a true freshman and Ricky Reeves, who has since departed, started at cornerback. Both in their own way were pressed into duty. Lage will be counted on this year to be approaching the impact level player the Coyotes need to complement Tyler Starr at linebacker on the other side.
Without getting too specific, the fast guys are usually more likely to be seeing action early. Position by position, offensive linemen almost never play their true freshman season, nor do defensive linemen. So let’s throw those dudes out of the true freshmen sweepstakes for the moment.
Quarterbacks are almost always redshirted as well, so they’re out of the running.
So what’s left? Well there are definitely some guys who are strong candidates to play. It’s my experience that it’s too early to try to sharpen the pencil too much, but you take a guy like freshman running back Khorey Kilgore (5-10, 205, Blue Springs, Mo.). I’d expect we’re going to see an awful lot of Trevor Bouma and Jordan Roberts carrying the ball this year, but with Jasper Sanders very likely out for the season with a wrist issue, Kilgore could be a serious candidate to play some. He’s big enough, he was one of the program’s recruiting victories last winter, and coaches like what they’ve seen so far. Ideally, if they had to play him this year they would have the opportunity to redshirt him next year when Sanders comes back.
Khalid Kornegay (6-2, 185, Tulsa Union HS) would be another skill player who could get a serious look at wide receiver based on being faster in most cases than the competition at that spot. True freshman kicker Miles Bergner, who will also likely punt, is another appears a lock to play right away.
Sioux Falls Roosevelt recruit John Wessel, who is up to 230 pounds now after playing safety in high school, has impressed coaches with his toughness and could be a backup at outside linebacker. Fullback Drew Potter (6-3, 245, Basehor, Kan.) could take over at the fullback spot right away. Quintin McMartin held the spot for four years and didn’t redshirt, so there is precedent.
This is not a comprehensive list, it’s a preliminary list and there are other guys on the roster who could end up playing, but I think it’s safe to say that more guys from this class will be on the field right away than last year’s incoming class.