I always end Rantoul with my guess at the depth chart, and here it is nearly a week since I’ve been home, and I haven’t three-deep’d yet.
That’s right, three deep. Because two deeps are something Fitzee would do.
QB: Nathan Scheelhaase (SR) / Reilly O’Toole (JR) / Aaron Bailey (FR)
RB: Donovonn Young (JR) / Josh Ferguson (SO) / Dami Ayoola (SO)
TE1: Jon Davis (JR) / Matt LaCosse (JR) / Kenny Knight (SO)
TE2: Evan Wilson (SR) / Tim Clary (SO) / Tyler White (FR)
LT: Simon Cvijanovic (JR) / Dallas Hinkhouse / Austin Schmidt (FR)(JR)
LG: Michael Heitz (JR) / Joseph Spencer (rs-FR) / Harry Black (FR)
C: Alex Hill (JR) / Jake Feldmeyer (SR) / Tony Durkin (rs-SO)
RG: Teddy Karras (rs-SO) / Chris O’Connor (rs-SO) / Jesse Chadwell (FR)
RT: Corey Lewis (rs-SR) / Pat Flavin (rs-SO) / Christian DiLauro (FR)
WR1: Spencer Harris (SR) / Justin Hardee (SO) / Marchie Murdock (FR)
WR2: Miles Osei (SR) / Martize Barr (JR) / Devin Church (rs-FR)
WR3: Ryan Lankford (SR) / Steve Hull (SR) / Peter Bonahoom (rs-SO)
Leo: Houston Bates (JR) / Dejazz Woods (JR) / DJ Smoot (FR)
DT: Austin Teitsma (JR) / Teko Powell (rs-SO) / Abe Cajuste (JR)
NG: Jake Howe (JR) / Robbie Bain (rs-FR) / Bryce Douglas (FR)
DE: Tim Kynard (SR) / Kenny Nelson (rs-SO) / Chunky Clements (FR)
WLB: Jonathan Brown (SR) / Zeph Grimes (rs-SO) / Ralph Cooper (JR)
MLB: Mason Monheim (SO) / TJ Neal (rs-FR) / Henry Dickinson (rs-SO)
Star: Mike Svetina (SO) / James Crawford (FR) / BJ Bello (rs-FR)
CB: Eaton Spence (rs-SO) / Jaylen Dunlap (FR) / Caleb Day (FR)
SS: Earnest Thomas (JR) / Ben Mathis (SR) / Darwyn Kelly (FR)
FS: Taylor Barton (rs-FR) / Zane Petty (JR) / Jevaris Little (rs-FR)
CB: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Dillan Cazley (FR)
K: Taylor Zalewski (SO) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR) / Baron Von Miegham (rs-FR)
P: Justin DuVernois (JR) / Brad Janitz (SR) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR)
LS: Zach Hirth (rs-FR) / Michael Martin (rs-FR)
Hold: Tim Russell (SR) / Justin DuVernois (JR)
PR: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Martize Barr (JR)
KOR: Josh Ferguson & Miles Osei / Devin Church & Dami Ayoola
+ First, injuries. I doubt Eric Finney will be ready for the opener, so I didn’t put him on there. But I’m guessing Ben Mathis will be back by then, so I did. And I’m not even acknowledging that Teddy Karras’ injury even happened, so he’s on there.
I should just list them.
Players who aren’t on here because of injury (I’m guessing they won’t be back for the opener): Eric Finney (Star), Vontrell Williams (defensive tackle), Chris Boles (offensive guard), Scott McDowell (offensive tackle), Trevor Kanteman (tight end).
Players who are injured but I added them to the three-deep because I’m guessing they’ll be back: Ben Mathis (safety), Teddy Karras (offensive guard), Ralph Cooper (linebacker).
+ I added two tight end positions. If you’re super terrific at interpreting things, you might read that to mean we’re going to use a lot of tight ends at different spots on the field, like at fullback, h-back, and tight end. And if we do that, there are five or six guys who might rotate in.
So I put together two lists. Because the ultimate tight end is half offensive lineman, half wide receiver, I divided the lists into blockers and receivers. I’ll let you decide which is which.
+ Putting together this two-deep made me realize that there are two players I didn’t talk about enough in Rantoul: Devin Church and Tyler White.
When Tim Beckman says he doesn’t like to talk about injuries, he doesn’t really ever want to talk about injuries. For example, Devin Church tore his ACL in late August last year, and nobody knew about it. Most just thought he was redshirting. It wasn’t until this spring that we learned it was a torn ACL.
Church is fully healed now and in the mix at slot receiver. We have four seniors at receiver this year, so it might be a year before Church starts to contribute, but he has an eye-opening burst that I think you’re going to like.
The other name is freshman tight end Tyler White. When I talked to Alex Golesh about recruiting, when talking about finding diamonds in the rough, he lit up talking about White. And when you watch practice, White stands out. A senior and two juniors will lead the way, but of all the tight ends, I think White might have the best combination of blocking and pass-catching. Two years from now, he could be pretty good.
+ Things I debated a lot before making my selection:
- Freshman James Crawford in front of BJ Bello at Star. Bello has a year in the system, but I like Crawford so much that I talked myself into putting him on the second string.
- DJ Smoot over Paul James as the third string Leo. I just think Smoot’s frame is a little more Big Ten ready. They both need muscle, but I think James needs a little more. (I also think James has more potential, but that’s a topic for another day).
- I considered Aaron Bailey as the backup QB. Reilly is clearly the guy if Nate gets hurt, but if Nate stays healthy, I think Aaron Bailey will take dozens more snaps than Reilly O’Toole.
- I really debated Hinkhouse or Schmidt for backup left tackle. Went with Hinkhouse so that Schmidt can redshirt. Because I want Schmidt as a three year starter in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
- Really need to find a spot for Martize Barr and Justin Hardee, but I’m guessing the three starters at wide receiver will all be seniors.
- Don’t really know who the punt returner will be. I guessed Bentley. But Mosely has a shot at it, I think. Barr, too.
+ Because the players cover multiple positions, the offensive line is always the toughest position to three-deep. Pat Flavin is the backup right tackle, but if Corey Lewis is out for a few series, I think Michael Heitz slides over from guard to tackle and Joe Spencer comes in at left guard.
So perhaps it’s best to list the OL backups as a nine-man rotation
Cvijanovic – Heitz – Hill – Karras – Lewis are the starters. 6th man is Joe Spencer (either guard spot). 7th guy is Jake Feldmeyer (any of the three interior spots). 8th is Pat Flavin. 9 – I’ll say OT Dallas Hinkhouse.
+ Fourteen freshmen in the defensive three deep. 14. Fourteen. And we’ll legitimately rotate three players at some of those positions, so ten of those 14 will probably play. That’s… that’s a lot.
OK, I think that’s it. Next time I’ll go five deep. Pretty much just so I can add #Manberg.