Post-Spring Depth Chart

Apr 16, 2017

Since I'm acting like Spring Football just ended... what's the first thing I usually do after Spring Ball? Depth chart. There were only 58 scholarship players going through spring practice (and around a dozen were injured), so this will be an interesting depth chart. We basically had just enough players for a two-deep this spring, but some of them won't be in the rotaiton this fall, which means you're going to see a lot of freshmen in this three-deep.

Why a three-deep? Because Fitzee would hate it.

Post-Spring Depth Chart

QB | Crouch (JR) | George Jr. (SO) | Thomas (FR)
RB | Corbin (SO) | Foster (SR) | Brown (rs-SO)
TE | Reams (SO) | Palmer (rs-FR) | Trainer (rs-FR)
Quick-T | DiLauro (SR) | Cerny (rs-FR) | Palczewski (FR)
Quick-G | Megginson (SO) | Gavin (rs-FR) | Lowe (FR)
Center | Allegretti (JR) | Kramer (rs-FR) | Stover (FR-walkon)
Strong-G | Lee (SO) | Boyd (FR) | H. Watkins (FR)
Strong-T | Solomon (SO) | Fagan (SR) |
WR-X | Mays (JR) | Thieman (SO) | Smith (FR)
WR-Z | Turner (SR) | C. Green (FR) | Davis (SO)
WR-W | Dudek (JR) | Smalling (FR) | McGriff (rs-FR)
WDE | McGrew (JR) | Carney (FR) | Roundtree (FR)
DT | Milan (SO) | Oliver (SO) | Pate (FR)
DT | Odenigbo (JR) | Jackson (SO) | K. Green (FR)
SDE | Adesanya (JR) | Oladipo (FR) | Woods (FR)
WLB | Phillips (JR) | J. Williams (SO) | Shogbonyo (rs-FR)
MLB | Watson (JR) | Jones (JR) | Abercrombie (rs-FR)
SLB | Harding (SO) | Hansen (SO) | Mondesir (FR)
Nickel | James (JR) | Jones (rs-FR) | Holman (JR - walkon)
CB | Dunlap (SR) | Sumpter (SO) | Adams (FR)
SS | S. Green (SO) | Clayton Jr (rs-FR) | DeGroot (FR)
FS | Nelson (SO) | Hylton (JR) | B. Williams (FR)
CB | C. Watkins (SO) | Hayes (SR) | Hobbs (FR)
Kicker | McLaughin (JR) | McCourt (rs-FR) |
Punter | Baringer (FR) | Tucker (JR) |
Holder | Tucker (JR) | George Jr (SO) |
Long-snapper | Mills (rs-FR) | Tabel (rs-FR) |
Punt Return | Smalling (FR) | Davis (SO) |
KO Return | Foster/Epstein | Smalling/Davis |

Some thoughts:

+ Youngest team in the country. Has to be.

+ Let's start with the specialists and work back up. McLaughlin is set as the kicker (returning starter, was just put on scholarship), but punter is wide open. Might be current walkon junior Ryan Tucker, might be the perferred-walkon they're bringing in this summer (Bryce Baringer). Punting, honestly, is a huge concern. We struck out on all of our top targets (scholarship punters) and settled for flipping Baringer from SIU. He or Tucker has to be good immediately or it's 2006 again. Or, and I'm not joking, Chayce Crouch might have to Danny White it and be the starting quarterback/punter.

Returns are completely up in the air as well. Punt return could be any one of 10 players. The best returner would be Mikey Dudek by a country mile, but will we put him back there and ask him to stand there while people dive at his knees? I doubt it. So I'm guessing Ricky Smalling comes in and wins the punt return job. Or Trenard Davis. Or Carmoni Green. Or MJ McGriff.

+ Nickel will be interesting to watch. Last year, we were in the Nickel nearly half of the time, which means Nickel is just as much a starting position as Strongside Linebacker (the player who comes off the field when the Nickel comes on). Last year it started as Chris James and Dylan Cazley and ended up being Darius Mosely (with one of the freshmen moving out to Mosely's starting cornerback spot). Sophomore Cam Watkins is probably the most nickel-like cornerback, but I feel like we'll need him to start at corner.

So for the defensive secondary I think we know the corners (Dunlap and Watkins) and the safeties (Green and Nelson) and then Nickel and all the backups are wide open. Which means all of the freshmen (Adams, Hobbs, DeGroot, Williams) will have a chance to come in and push for playing time.

+ Offensive line remains up in the air. Two battles, in my mind:

  • Senior Jordan Fagan or sophomore Adam Solomon at right (strong) tackle. I'm going with Solomon here. Mostly because I think the coaches will look at this as a complete rebuilding year, and when that happens, they usually go with the sophomore over the senior.
  • The second battle is complicated. Let's call it the strong guard/center battle. Ideally, Nick Allegretti stays at strong guard and we find a center to replace Joe Spencer. That center would be redshirt freshman Doug Kramer. If Kramer isn't ready, Allegretti moves to center and we look to guys like Darta Lee and Larry Boyd to battle for strong guard. It's a complicated math problem. Say at the beginning of camp, Kramer appears ready so Allegretti stays at guard. But then say Larry Boyd impresses enough that the coaches say "we have to get him on the field now". Then Kramer, even though he's ready, probalby moves to second string so that Allegretti can move to center so that Boyd can play.

+ I realize that Kendrick Foster is a senior (and our leading returning rusher), but since I picked Reggie Corbin for my Team last summer, I have to go with my Guy. So I'm putting Corbin as the starter and Foster as the backup.

+ Wide receiver feels like the deepest position. Malik Turner can be a first-team All Big Ten receiver. Mikey Dudek returns. Carmoni Green was all I could talk about at spring practice. Ricky Smalling arrives this summer. Dom Thieman is a great sophomore leap candidate. Sam Mays might junior leap.

The goal: get all positions to the depth we currently see in the wide receiver corps. Right now, they're not there. Youngest team in the country.


ontoolong on April 16 @ 08:45 PM CDT

I always enjoy these but I would disagree on a couple of positions. I saw an interview of Coach Lovie and he was fairly giddy (I don’t think I have ever seen him this excited when talking about players) in describing the play of Crawford at DE (you left him out completely which I assume was just an oversight) and Hanson at LB. Things can always change, but I would be shocked if they didn’t start. One of coaches (Ward?) also talked about Foster and singled him out about how good he was and how important he was. Again, I would go with him as the starter.

Robert on April 17 @ 11:59 AM CDT

Great point. Totally whiffed on Crawford. Put him in the battle with McGrew as the weakside end. And come to think of it, I didn't list Zarrian Holcombe at DE either (he switched there this spring). Guess I got caught up in trying to get all seven incoming freshmen on the list.

As for Hansen, I agree they seem to like him, but not sure he's in front of Harding once Harding returns from injury rehab. Harding didn't play at all this spring (had worked his way up to the starting spot at SLB as a true freshman before getting injured).

Corbin v. Foster, I think I acknowledged in the post where I stand there. Foster clearly the leading candidate to start - I still think Corbin might overtake him come August.

Bear8287 on April 16 @ 09:06 PM CDT

  • Youngest team in the country. Has to be.

Wow, you've been saying that this team is going to be young, but there's nothing like looking over the depth chart to hammer that point home.

For any freshmen looking for getting some early playing time, have we got a team for you.

It will be good to get a chance to see where the coaches want to go with the program this year.

iluvrt on April 18 @ 10:23 AM CDT

Here comes a 2-10....

Robert on April 18 @ 11:25 AM CDT

I think it's highly possible. The one saving grace: South Florida, Western Kentucky, Minnesota, Purdue, and Indiana are all under first-year head coaches. That helps, although only Purdue has a new coach because the old coach was fired for poor performance.

Sweetchuck13 on April 18 @ 11:59 AM CDT

That seems extremely pessimistic. I have more faith in this coaching staff than any staff we've had in a long time. We're young, but I highly doubt we're that bad - especially later in the season as the young guys start to hit a groove. Still think a bowl game is a stretch, but I think 4-8 or 5-7 should probably be a reasonable expectation. 2-10 would be a definite disappointment - youngest roster or not.

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