As we inch closer to the start of the '09 football season (the Wisconsin game is 59 days away as of this writing!) and the new recruits are on campus working out prior to fall camp, let's take a look at who among them might see the field this fall.
Two new QBs have arrived in the persons of AJ Hill and Tommy Coughlin. If either sees the field this fall it means a major catastrophe has befallen the Huskies. Chandler Harnish is entrenched as the starter and DeMarcus Grady as his backup. If they were to be injured I'm sure you would see
Brandon Rogers or Ryan Morris before the freshmen. (Edit: The pixels on this story are not even dry and Brandon Rogers has apparently left the building for greener pastures. Good luck to Brandon in his future pursuits.)
Antoine Kirkland is the new recruit at this position and I expect a walkon to appear as well. Regardless, the Huskies are loaded at running back with Meco Brown, Chad Spann, Justin Anderson and Ricky Crider all experienced and effective when given the opportunity. Coach Kill has said he wishes he had redshirted Brown last fall and I don't expect him to make that mistake again with so many talented players available.
No fullbacks were brought in on scholarship with the '09 recruiting class. Although I expect a walkon to appear on the roster this fall he won't see the field with Kyle Skarb and Connor Flahive ahead of him.
Nick "Sunshine" Groeniger was brought in on scholarship and could see the field this year but he's a JUCO guy so he doesn't count for this discussion. No freshmen tight ends were brought in on scholarship. It's possible a walkon will appear or Stephen O'Neal will be flipped over from defensive end but regardless they won't see the field with a glut of good players in front of them including Reed Cunningham, Bryan Beckner and Jason Schepler.
Bingo! The Huskies are thin at wideout with only Landon Cox, Nathan Palmer and Willie Clark having signficant game experience so it is likely that one or more of the incoming freshmen will get playing time this fall. Daniel Rodriguez, Perez Ashford, Martel Moore and Anthony Johnson are all good looking prospects so it will be fun to see who moves to the front in fall camp. Rodriguez and Ashford look like they could also contribute to the return game.
It is extremely unlikely that incoming freshmen Jared Volk and Matt Krempel will see the field this fall. The Huskies are returning three starters and the two newcomers, Panan Tense and Kevin Skatrud, are a junior and senior respectively. There are also several backups (Keith Otis, Logan Pegram, Scott Wedige, Joe Pawlak, Adam Kiel,
Tony Holmes) who have been in the program for some time and would likely play before the freshmen.
There's a small chance one of the freshmen (Anthony Wells, Alan Baxter, Stephen O'Neal) will make it onto the field as a situational speed rusher. Senior Mike Kritikos' ability to recover from his bad spring injury will have something to say about that, as will the effectiveness of Darnell Bolding and Sean Progar-Jackson. I'm sure Coach Kill would prefer to redshirt the freshmen but he loves speed and if the incumbents don't get to the quarterback it could change his mind. Kyle Jenkins may see the field this year but he's a JUCO guy.
While the Huskies have some good players at defensive tackle in Mike Krause, DJ Pirkle and Adam Coleman, they are not deep there and it's possible one or more of the incoming freshmen (Zach Anderson, Nabal Jefferson, Jon Phillips) will squeeze into the rotation. Defensive tackle also seems to be a position at which coaches are not afraid to play freshmen. It will be up to incumbents Brian Lawson and Ron Newcomb to fend them off.
This is a tough one to call. The Huskies have a nice looking two deep at linebacker with Alex Kube, Spencer Williamson, Pat Schiller, Victor Jacques, Cory Hanson and John Tranchitella, plus experienced backups
Zach Larsen and Phil Brown. However, true freshmen occasionally see the field at linebacker as we've seen in the recent past with Josh Allen and Phil Brown. I would say it's unlikely the incoming freshmen (Devon Butler, Tyrone Clark, George Rainey) see the field but you never know. Another incoming freshman whose position has not been established is walkon Riley O'Toole. He could end up at wideout, where he could possibly see the field this fall, or linebacker where he probably would not.
The Huskies are thin at cornerback so incoming freshmen Dominique Ware and Sean Evans have a decent chance to crack the rotation this fall. Chris Smith may also play but he's coming from a JUCO.
Jordan Lynch may or may not play safety at NIU. It makes sense to me for him to play there but there has been some speculation he will go back to QB. Regardless, he will not see the field this fall.
There's no incoming freshman punter on the team so this is an easy one. Punting will be handled by senior Mike Salerno, junior Josh Wilber or redshirt freshman Ryan Neir.