ISN Development Teams Info

  
The ISN Development Teams will be comprised of the top players with up to four years of eligibility in the program. The ISN Development Teams are being established at the request of youth players and organizations to provide more players with the opportunity to participate in a National Team/All Star Game environment. As well as a camp to develop their football technique and fundamentals.
In 2016, up to 100 players born in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 will be selected for the ISN Development Teams.

Purpose of the ISN Development Teams
The ISN Development Teams are designed to offer the best U19 players from around the world a Game and Training Camp in which they will develop their technique, fundamentals and football skills. All the emphasis of the camp will be on the development of the assisting athletes to be the best football players they can be. Players are given an opportunity to be instructed by some of the world’s top USA coaches with ample experience. Among the objectives of the camp is to develop into a player that can contribute to his country’s national or club team program.
All players that participate on A ISN Development Team will receive an evaluation from their position coach and the opportunity to practice and compete with the best players in the world, as well as staying in touch with their football coaches and the ISN strength and conditioning coach to be evaluated and followed year round.
The ISN Development Teams is also an opportunity for more IFAF members to be involved in the program. The coaching staff will strive to select at least one player from all IFAF member countries that nominate eligible players so that the players can bring to their own countries the experience and knowledge obtained in the camp. In a span of six days international players will have the chance of practicing twice daily through practices designed to develop their football skills at the same time they are evaluated by means of sophisticated performance sessions conducted by the ISN staff.

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South Carolina junior squats absurd amount of weight

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Jhabias Johnson might have more college options than he originally thought.

The 5-foot-9, 338-pound junior center and nose guard for Bluffton (S.C.) announced on Twitter in January that he had committed to Butler Community College.

On Saturday he reportedly broke the South Carolina state squat record by lifting a remarkable 755 pounds at the state’s strength meet. That kind of number attracts college recruiters, like the Oregon Ducks, his favorite college team. For a point of reference, a smart car weighs about 1,500 pounds.

According to this question-and-answer with Johnson in Bluffton Today, Johnson had 28 solo tackles in 2015 after recording 15 tackles in four games as a sophomore. He told the publication that he also plays backup quarterback. Well, at least on one play.

“It was in the first quarter (of a game),” he said. “We needed a first down so they put me in at quarterback and we ran it.”

He got the first down. As a ninth-grader, he scored a touchdown from the quarterback spot. Since then, he’s focused on life in the trenches and working his lower body. Before Saturday, he squatted what was believed to be a state mark of 715 pounds. He increased that total by 40 pounds.

He said running and a strenuous leg workout on Mondays from coach Tommy Adams is why he can lift so much.

“Never skip leg day,” he told the newspaper. “Love Mondays.”

By | MaxPreps.com

High School Football Coaches React To Ivy League Decision To Eliminate In-Season Tackling In Practice

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Earlier this week, the Ivy League, known more for education than football, made national headlines when its eight head coaches voted unanimously to eliminate full-contact hitting from practices during its regular season.  The new rule will take effect for the 2016 season once the league’s athletic directors, school presidents and policy committee vote on the plan.

The inspiration for the new rule began at Dartmouth, which last year shared the Ivy League championship with Harvard and Penn.

In 2010, head coach Buddy Teevens eliminated full-contact during the Big Green’s football practices.  According to many media interviews that Teevens has done since then, after the tackling was taken-out of the team’s practices, injury and concussion rates dropped and his players were fresher and healthier.

Once Teevens and Dartmouth eliminated tackling, the college’s Thayer School of Engineering went to work on developing something that can only be described as Tackling 2.0.  Now during practices, the Big Green chase and tackle a 5-foot-10, 150-pound robotic dummy that I got a look at in action during January’s American Football Coaches Association annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.  It’s called a Mobile Virtual Player or MVP for short.

So how will the Ivy League’s decision influence other levels of the game, including high school football?

“The obvious benefit is less cumulative head impacts for a larger number of players than at the college level,” said Dr. Chris Koutures, team doctor at Orange Lutheran in Orange, California.  “But, you have to balance this with concern/risk of high school players not being as experienced with tackling and may actually increase injury risk during in-game play.”

Koutures added, “We don’t have data about the what the elimination of practice tackling in-season at high school level would do, but a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that decreased hours of full contact practice led to less concussion risk in practice and no higher risk in games for all levels — freshman to varsity.  Its possible that no tackling would create similar or even more convincing results.”

As far as the coaches we talked with, a majority felt that the “Ivy League Way” wouldn’t work at the high school level.

“I would be reluctant to support such a move (at the high school level), because it would eliminate the needed progression toward preparing players for the real game,” said John Hebert, head coach at Carmel High School (Carmel, IN).  “Players need some work on live tackling prior to the first contest.  How much work they need is a matter of preference for the coach.  What we all have in common is a desire to be prepared, but also to be healthy and safe.  We can’t be successful otherwise.”

Hebert added, “If all eight Ivy League coaches are going to meet to have input on gradually implementing live tackling prior to contests then it is probably a positive step for them.  If they are actually banning ALL live tackling in practice, it would offer a greater payoff to the political and campus concerns than actually making the game itself safer for their players, in my opinion.”

“I don’t believe that stopping full contact hitting would be beneficial to my players,” said Augie Hoffmann, head coach at St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, NJ).  “It’s my responsibility to get them in shape and ready for the season and hitting is a part of that.  What I do think is most important is being able to monitor every drill and have the pulse of your team at the forefront. We as coaches need to know when to push and more importantly, we need to know when to scale back.”

“Personally I think the rules that have been adopted by the Ivy League which bans full contact tackling from all in-season practices are not completely necessary for the high school level,” saidJason Negro, head coach at St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA).  “As a high school football coach, my main objective is to teach proper fundamentals of tackling to student athletes of all skill levels in the safest manner possible.  I firmly believe these tackling sessions must continue to be taught throughout the season to ensure the safety of our athletes during all games regardless of level.  For those states that do not allow schools to have padded spring or summer practices, such as the case in California where I coach, it would be difficult to properly teach the art of safe tackling with no exposure to full contact tackling during the season.”

“Dartmouth has taken a unique approach to handling the concussion epidemic by eliminating full contact in practices,” said Jason Strunk, head coach at Lubbock High School in west Texas.  “While this step is a way of forward thinking, I do not see this catching on across the country. I think it would take a program like Alabama or Florida to adapt the Dartmouth Way in order for more coaches to follow through on this.  This step is something I would not ever consider, unless I was told to do so”.

“Not having the luxury of a large roster in the past, we very rarely went live or in full pads,” saidPhil Stambaugh, head coach at Notre Dame-Green Pond (Bethlehem, PA).  “We put the emphasis on form tackling and drills vs. taking anyone to ground.  We can’t afford to lose anyone, but still needed to teach our kids how to practice full speed and how to use proper techniques to tackle to avoid injury.”

Stambaugh added, “It’s a double-edged sword to take out the live tackling practice, but we always lean towards caution with a quick whistle and use a controlled tempo if we do a live drill.”

“The only time we go full live tackling is August, the first week of pads,” said Mike Moschetti, head coach at La Mirada (La Mirada, CA).  “When we do go full live tackling, it’s only during one period every day.  For the eight years I have been coaching at La Mirada, that’s all the full live tackling we do.”

Moschetti added, “What we do, is called full Thud. What Thud is, is full go contact — we just don’t take the player to the ground.  The rest of the year, after the first week, from August through December is full thud practice.  We have done this for eight years at La Mirada.  It’s what we did when I played in college at the University of Colorado and what the NFL has also been doing for years.”

“For the last 4-5 years I have eliminated full-contact tackling from our in-season practices,” saidIMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) head coach Kevin Wright.  “Even in the spring and fall preseason, we seldom take people to the ground.  Our focus has been on practicing smarter and making sure we are as technically sound as possible.”

“We practice at a fast tempo without full contact drills. It actually has helped us increase the number of reps we get in practice and also has shortened our amount of on field practice time.  We video everything, because we have gone away from full-contact drills, it has really forced our staff to put a much higher emphasis on teaching both on the field and in the classroom.  As a result of this approach I think our kids are better prepared both physically and mentally on game nights,” added Wright.

“We rarely tackle live to the ground in practice all season,” said Hebert.  “Perhaps the only time we do, is during a one to two week period prior to our first game in August.  I feel like we can make up so much ground in the area of being reluctant to enter into the pile in that short amount of time.  At most, we will tackle live in three 5-minute periods and an intrasquad scrimmage.”

“I would strongly support limited full contact tackling practices during the season,” said Negro.  “Tackling can continue to be taught throughout the season without it being full contact at all times.  Varying practice speeds or tempos could be used to achieve the same level of teaching proper fundamentals while keeping the student athlete safer.  Tackling bags or dummies can serve just as an important function as a live body.  I think that a combination of full and non-full contact tackling practices would be the most effective format at the high school level therefore reducing the opportunities for student athletes to be injured.”

JEFF FISHER

Midview’s Logan Bolin wins Lou Groza Award, decides to continue football career at Ashland

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Logan Bolin’s big senior year keeps getting bigger. Midview’s do-it-all football player was honored this week by the Cleveland Touchdown Club with its Lou Groza Most Valuable Scholastic Player Award, given annually to the most outstanding high school football player in the Greater Cleveland area.

“Looking at the list of past winners, it’s really humbling,” Bolin said. “It puts it in perspective. I had a fun career and everything. I just enjoyed it, I don’t look as far back as what I did, I just look at the fun I had with everybody — friends, coaches and all that stuff. The impact we had in the community, it’s just a great thing.”

Bolin also committed to Ashland University, receiving a full ride through academic and athletic scholarships. He intends to play receiver.

He was considering a number of other preferred walk-on offers, most notably from Michigan State and Bowling Green, but Bolin ultimately narrowed his focus to Ashland, Air Force and Yale. He said the Eagles’ strong football program, a full ride and the school’s solid business program pushed him to choose Ashland.

His father, Ray, was an All-American running back with Ashland. Midview coach D.J. Shaw played linebacker there.

“They’re one of the top D-II programs in the country, definitely in Ohio,” Bolin said. “They had a 10-0 season last year, really nice facilities and coaches. I really liked it there.”

The Lou Groza Award is just another accolade in what’s been an all-time season, and career, for Bolin. He won the 2015 Golden Helmet award — given to the best senior football player in Lorain County — and helped lead Midview to another 10-0 regular season and a Southwestern Conference championship. The Middies lost to Glenville 27-14 in the regional semifinals.

Bolin did it all for the Middies.

As the team’s top wide receiver, he racked up 81 catches for 1,314 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also played quarterback when starter Dustin Crum suffered a shoulder injury, and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Bolin completed 38 of 57 passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

“He honestly was our team MVP,” Shaw said. “I had no idea that he had won that award as well. He’s very deserving. If anyone saw him play the last three years, they would say he’s probably one of the best high school football players that they’ve seen around here. The stats and the numbers that he compiled were just eye-opening.”

The senior piled up 326 rushing yards and six touchdowns, returned 17 punts for a 16.5-yard average and scored twice, averaged 23.2 yards on five kickoff returns and was one of the team’s top defensive backs, piling up 63 tackles, four interceptions, two fumbles, seven pass breakups and a touchdown. He was first-team All-Ohio and the Northeast Lakes district player of the year.

The season capped an impressive career in which he piled up 3,926 yards and 53 touchdowns in his four years. He owns nine school and seven Lorain County receiving records, and finished in the top 10 on six state lists.

by

Rapper Warren G’s son Olaijah Griffin is a bona fide top drawer football prospect

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Mission Viejo football star Olaijah Griffin didn’t have to go far to learn how to regulate the extra recruiting attention that has followed his meteoric rise up the prospect charts. After all, his father is responsible for giving the phrase its extra oomph.

Griffin is a sophomore cornerback at Mission Viejo. He was a major contributor to a state champion squad in just his second year in high school, and his first as a varsity football player. Yet Griffin is known for something more than just his sheer athleticism and talent on the field, too: He’s the son of longtime rapper Warren G, who has famously collaborated with the likes of Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg and just about every other significant rapper to emerge from the West Coast scene.

Scout rates Griffin as a four-star prospect, and his highlight reel and work ethic do little to discourage that assessment. While he still has two varsity seasons remaining, Griffin alreadyholds scholarship offers from the likes of UCLA, Oregon and Cal. Not too shabby.

At 6-foot and 170 pounds, Griffin isn’t a bruiser, nor is he likely to suddenly sprout up to 6-foot-8. That’s ok, because his athleticism alone makes Griffin a bona fide blue chip prospect.

It doesn’t hurt that his father is Dr. Dre’s step-brother and one of the most famous names in the rap game.

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By

Taft High School Football Program

October 31, 2015- Taft _Football.  Varsity football  vs Salisbury. (Photo by Robert Falcetti/Taft)

The Taft Football Program is one of the most historic in all of New England.  At Taft players of all levels have found success.  Over the years we have had beginners who want to learn the game all the way to the most talented players, such as Patrick Kerney, who have played Division 1 college football and made it to the NFL.  In short, at Taft we have a place in our football program for anyone who is willing to work hard in the classroom and on the field.  With over a century of tradition, our coaching staff has maintained a commitment to excellence through hard work and discipline.

Taft football players use some of the top facilities in the country, ranging from a picturesque game field to one of the finest locker rooms in New England.  Furthermore, Taft football players have access to a spacious weight room and an advanced video editing system, making it easy to prepare films to send to college coaches.

Taft plays in the Class A New England prep school conference against some of the most challenging competition in the northeast.  In preparing for their opponents, the Taft coaching staff prides itself on teaching their players to pay attention to detail and on being the most well conditioned team in the league, as all of our players play offense, defense, and special teams, and must be prepared to play an entire game with little rest.  Through an emphasis on dedication and high character, Taft football players are expected to conduct themselves with pride, honor, respect, and great sportsmanship.

If you would like more information on the Taft Football Program, please call or email Coach Tyler Whitley atTylerWhitley@taftschool.org

Spring Football: Developing depth a key emphasis

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Head coach Bubba Schweigert had the North Dakota football team on the cusp of earning an at-large bid to the 2015 Football Championship Subdivision playoffs thanks to a 7-4 overall record and 5-3 mark in the Big Sky. Unfortunately, the Fighting Hawks were on the outside looking in when the 24-team field was announced on Nov. 22.

The dejection felt that first Sunday after the season has fueled the current staff and players to take make sure the team’s playoff fate in 2016 is determined by the Fighting Hawks’ performance on the field.

With spring practices set to start earlier than ever compliments of the High Performance Center, Schweigert says the one area he wants to focus on the most this spring is developing depth throughout his roster. “When we were able to take a step back and look at what we needed to do in order to get us closer to a Big Sky Championship and spot in the playoff field, it was developing more depth across the board,” Schweigert said. “We felt like injuries in the secondary, at quarterback and at wide receiver affected our season. We just need to become deeper in all areas.”

Developing that depth is not only a matter of getting players physically ready to play, but getting them mentally ready as well. Fortunately, with the arrival of the state-of-the-art HPC, winter conditioning and individual drills were able to receive a boost both in terms of quantity and quality. UND’s third-year head coach thinks that jump on conditioning and individual work will only help his players when it comes to learning his team’s offensive and defensive systems during the team’s 15 spring practices.

“We had a better facility to work with and that will only make our team better as we start spring ball,” he added. “Now, when we get in the HPC for practice, we think the controlled environment will really benefit our team. There is something to be said about being outside and toughening up in adverse conditions, but when we want them to focus on the teaching and learning of our system, having that controlled environment will be huge in that regard.

“We may go outside a few times, but we expect our learning and focus to be so much better with the work we will be able to do inside this spring. Overall, I think the retention will be at a higher level and that will pay significant dividends in the fall.”

OFFENSE
The biggest question mark on offense entering 2016 spring football practices will be along the front line where the Fighting Hawks will have to replace four starters, including a trio that started all but one game together over the past two seasons.

“That position is going to be a point of emphasis for us,” Schweigert said. “We have to develop a center and have guys like Dan Bell step up and take on a bigger role at guard.”

Junior A.J. Stockwell is the lone returning starter after seniors Brandon Anderson, Colton Boas and All-American Sean Meehan all graduated and right tackle Elijah Grady decided not to return for his sophomore campaign. Those vying to fill the holes on the O-line are a trio of juniors, who all have limited starting experience. That threesome includes Bell, Mat Cox and Brandon Miller. Miller will miss spring practices, but return for fall camp. “Brandon is another guy with experience. Missing spring practices is a concern, but he should be able to really focus on the mental side of it and learn a lot more, which will help him in the fall.”

Sophomore Grant Aplin opens spring as the starting center. He saw some action during his redshirt freshman season as a blocking fullback. Schweigert expects Cox to be in the mix for playing time there along with redshirt freshman Patric Rooney.

Offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph also has to replace fullback Zach Adler, who was an All-Big Sky performer in his final season at UND. “Zach had a solid year and will be hard to replace,” Schweigert said. “That position is a key one in our offense, so we have several young guys that will get a lot reps for us at both tight end and fullback and have a chance to get better.”

Adler was a key run blocker, but also ranked third on the team with 18 receptions for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Luke Mathewson returns at tight end where he was used primarily as a blocker, but added seven receptions for 90 yards. Sophomores Luke Fiedler and converted offensive lineman Jacob Francis will also help provide depth at the fullback and tight end positions. Classmate Tyler Coyne, who missed last season with an injury, is healthy and ready to return this spring.

Last’s year O-line helped put together one of the best ground attacks in the Big Sky a season ago, paving the way for sophomore John Santiago to earn STATS and Associated Press All-America honors after rushing for a Big Sky-best 1,459 yards and 16 touchdowns. Santiago was a consensus first team All-Big Sky performer and the first true freshman to lead the league in rushing during its 53-year history.

Santiago accounted for nearly 60 percent of the team’s 2,625 rushing yards, which were the most by a UND team since the 1975 team churned out 3,100 yards. “As good of a year as John had, we know he can be even better,” Schweigert said. “He is probably best at being a ball carrier right now, but that is not the only responsibility of a running back. This is a big spring for him. I think the spring after your first year is always big because you see how guys learn and how they adjust. They understand the offense better and get a feel for what defenses are trying to do. We want to keep him hungry, keep him learning and keep him improving.”

Santiago’s classmates Brady Oliveira (348 yards, 1 TD) and Iwarri Smith (241 yards, 1 TD) were second and third on the team in rushing, respectively, while quarterback Keaton Studsrud added 234 yards and three rushing scores. Smith is the making the permanent move to wide receiver this spring in order to get his speed on the field with Santiago at the same time.

“We liked what Iwarri did for us late in the year on some of those fly sweeps,” Schweigert said. We feel like we need to spread the touches around some more and putting him out at wide receiver will help us do that. We also think he can be dangerous in the return game, so we’ll get him some more work in that area too.”

Another reason for Smith’s move to wide receiver is adding Wyoming transfer Oscar Nevermann into the mix at running back along with UND’s Offensive Scout of the Year Austin Gordon, who redshirted a season ago. “We like our depth at running back and want to find the best ways to get those guys involved,” Schweigert added.

Studsrud made huge strides as a signal caller in his first full season with the starting job. He missed two games due to an injury, but otherwise led UND to a 7-2 record when he started or took a majority of the team’s snaps.

“We really liked what we saw from Studsrud last season, especially when he came back from injury,” Schweigert said. “Now, we have to continue to develop the depth behind him.”

Studsrud finished the season completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,262 yards, going 99-for-165 with 12 touchdown passes to only three interceptions. During UND’s three-game winning streak to close out the season, Studsrud was at his best, completing 80 percent (36-for-45) of his passes for 517 yards and five touchdowns without throwing a pick.

Redshirt freshman Brad Heidlebaugh will get a chance to show what he can do with the top offensive units this spring. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder from Rugby brings a skill set that Schweigert and Rudolph both like. “Brad is athletic and has the skills we look for in a quarterback,” Schweigert added. “We like what he brings to the table and he’ll get a lot of reps this spring to help his improve his comfort level with our offensive system.”

UND’s top two targets at wide receiver are both back as junior Josh Seibel and sophomore Luke Stanleyshared the team lead with 26 receptions. Stanley topped the team in receiving yards (312) and touchdowns (five), while Seibel was second in yardage (278) and added two receiving scores.

Senior Clive Georges also brings the speed dimension to the “Jets” and showed off his talents in only six contests. He averaged 25.0 yards per reception and had three touchdowns, including a season-long 64-yard connection in the finale at Cal Poly. He finished with 10 catches for 250 yards and three scores, while junior Brandon Walker also added 10 catches during an injury-shortened season (seven games).

A pair of redshirt receivers will also be looking to work their way into the rotation this spring. Tim Dulin (6-foot-4) and Carter Blackwell (6-foot-3) offer some sizable targets for Studsrud and the UND quarterbacks.

DEFENSE
Nine of the 11 starters from the Big Sky’s top run-stopping unit are back in 2016. Unfortunately, one of those two players defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt has to replace is All-Big Sky performer Will Ratelle, who was the quarterback of this unit the past two seasons. Ratelle averaged right at 10 tackles per game and finished the 2015 season with a career-best and UND Division I record 110 tackles as the Fighting Hawks limited opponents to just 100.1 rushing yards per game. Those stout numbers against the run helped the unit finish second in the Big Sky in total defense (359.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (25.7 ppg).

“Obviously, replacing a player of Will’s ability is a challenge, but we like the guys that we have at inside linebacker and having nine starters back will also help fill that void some,” Schweigert said.

Fortunately, Schmidt has that strong nucleus of returning starters and around a dozen other defenders that all made an impact on the unit a season ago. Leading that bunch is senior outside linebacker Brian Labat, who was a second team All-Big Sky performer along with junior safety Cole Reyes in 2015. “Brian had a solid season for us and Cole really showed the type of player he can be. We just have to find a way to keep those guys healthy,” Schweigert added.

Labat will have some experience alongside him after junior Jake Disterhaupt started all 11 games a season ago at outside linebacker and senior Jawon Johnson made the move there from strong safety mid-way through the season. Those two both return along with sophomore Dylan Harmston, who was a key special teams player and worked his way into the outside-backer rotation towards the end of last year.

Also, redshirt freshmen Jade Lawrence and Keelan Poole will add depth and speed to that position. “We want guys out there that run around real fast and move their feet well and we think there are several on this roster that can do that,” Schweigert said.

Replacing Ratelle on the inside will be the unit’s biggest chore, but several experienced players will get the first shot. Senior Taj Rich, who was second on the team in tackles in 2014 and well on his way to that distinction again in 2015 before an injury sidelined him for the final six games, will be healthy by fall camp and should hold down the spot he started 17 straight games at before suffering a knee injury vs. Portland State (Oct. 6), while senior Dylan Bakker and junior Connor O’Brien will be in the mix to man the spot Ratelle held down for the past two seasons.

O’Brien replaced Rich in the starting lineup and finished third on the team with 61 tackles, while Bakker had all 26 of his tackles, including a career-high 14 at Montana, in the team’s final four games. Redshirt freshman Donnell Rodgers will also provide depth at the inside-backer position after putting together a solid fall that netted him Defensive Scout of the Year honors in 2015. UND also brought in JUCO-transfer Dijon Murray at inside linebacker. “Our inside group is a talented bunch and we’re excited to see how they progress this spring,” Schweigert said.

At safety, Reyes finished second on the team with 71 tackles despite missing two games and established himself as one of the top safeties in the Big Sky. He will miss spring practices after undergoing an offseason procedure, but that will give time for junior Charles Flowers, sophomore Tanner Palmborg and redshirt freshman Vashon Tucker to get more reps as those three vie for increased playing time in 2016.

“We are short on secondary numbers due to injuries, but like everyone else that is out, those guys can still learn a lot this spring,” Schweigert said. “And, those injuries give the younger players a chance to establish themselves and show us what they can do with extra reps.”

Junior Zach Arnell started the first three games of the season and had 15 tackles before he went down for the season during the North Dakota State game (Sept. 19). Arnell will be a limited participant during spring practices as he works his way back, but both he and Reyes should make for a solid one-two punch in the defensive backfield by the time fall camp rolls around.

Junior Deion Harris had 12 pass break-ups and two interceptions in his first year as a starter. His 14 passes defended ranked third in the Big Sky. Sophomore Tyus Carter started the final eight games of his true freshman season, finishing with 19 tackles and two pass break-ups. Those two will be back along with juniors Jahmere Irvin-Sills and Chris Carter.

Both of those players saw action in 11 games in a reserve role and contributed on special teams in 2015. Irvin-Sills, who transferred from Mississippi State, was fourth among defensive backs with 25 tackles and added his first career interception.

“At cornerback, it’s no different than safety,” Schweigert said. “Tyus Carter will miss spring practices, but he has a chance to learn and continue to grow his knowledge of the system, while those other guys get better with repetitions.”

Defensive ends Brandon Dranka and Noah Johnson both earned All-Big Sky accolades in 2015 and return to headline a defensive front that is one of the deepest positions on the team. Dranka, who earned third team all-league honors, and Johnson, who was an honorable mention honoree, led all defensive linemen with 18 tackles a piece and combined for five sacks in 2015.

“This is a big spring for Noah Johnson,” Schweigert said. “He got to campus right before fall camp last season and really came on late in the year and became a factor on the field. Now he has a chance to get even more acclimated with spring practices and that will help him take an even bigger step forward in our program.”

Dranka’s classmate Drew Greely started the team’s first four games and returned late in the season from a shoulder injury. Sophomore Austin Cieslak also gained valuable experience, earning a rotation spot at defensive end for all 11 games.

At nose guard, senior Alec Carrothers and sophomore Tank Harris split time with the now departed Kyle Woodsmall in 2015. Harris is the beefiest of the bunch, as his six-foot-three, 300-pound frame will help clog the middle of the line. He led that group with 14 tackles, while Carrothers split time between end and nose guard, which is something that his versatility has allowed him to do over the past two seasons. SophomoreSteve Greer also saw some action as a true freshman that will benefit his development this spring.

“We thought Tank really took a positive step towards the end of last year and started to play well,” Schweigert said. “He is in the best shape of his career and can really help solidify that position along with Greer, who we think is also progressing nicely.”

Sophomore DaQuan Baker moved from linebacker to defensive end for the final stretch run and that will be a permanent switch going into spring practices. Junior Nick Schmitz is also a swing man on the front line that moved between end and nose guard last season.

Spring practices will also provide a chance for a quartet of young defensive ends to push this unit. Mason Bennett, Kemuel Denny, Carl Engwall and Carter Wilson make up that foursome that redshirted last season.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Two of the team’s three specialists will be back for their junior campaigns. Placekicker Reid Taubenheim is already seventh on UND’s career top 10 for field goals made with 29 after two seasons. That mark stands seventh. He went 13-for-17 a season in 2015 after going for 16-for-19 as a true freshman in 2014.

Long snapper Jacob Holmen also provides stability for that unit. He has started the last 21 games as the team’s snapper on both place kicks and punts over the past two seasons.

The one loss from the specialists group is punter Mitch Meindel. He was a second-team All-Big Sky performer a season ago after setting a UND single-season record with a 44.5 yards per punt average. Looking to replace Meindel this spring will be JUCO-transfer Jacob Meeks, who spent two seasons at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Meeks has two years of eligibility remaining for the Fighting Hawks.

Courtesy: UNDsports.com