Redshirts removed: At least 6 true freshmen for UND make trip to San Jose State
GRAND FORKS — UND quarterback Joe Mollberg is only a sophomore, but he’s going to be one of the old guys when North Dakota opens the season Thursday at San Jose State.
UND is expected to pull the redshirt on at least six — potentially nine — true freshmen.
“I feel like a veteran out there with all of the new guys,” Mollberg said. “We’re going to pull a few shirts, which you don’t often see. I think they’re ready to step up and show the world what they’ve got.”
Offensively, UND will likely pull the redshirt on wide receivers Brandon Walker and Dev Ferguson.
Defensively, UND’s top opportunities to pull the redshirt include cornerbacks Deion Harris and Chris Carter, safety Josiah Montague and defensive linemen Drew Greely and Brandon Dranka.
On special teams, UND will face San Jose with true freshman kicker Reid Taubenheim and classmate Connor Bolduc.
Are they ready?
“We’ll see,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “That’s an unknown. They’ve worked hard, and it’s time to get them on the field.
“When we got here, we wanted to bring in as much talent as we could in that short time. Now we want to play that talent and see if they can help our football team. We’ve said from the beginning that there’s no class system.”
If UND pulls the redshirt on six to nine players, it would be a significant number comparable to past seasons.
“Those guys have lots of talent to bring to the table and hopefully they can open some eyes,” Mollberg said.
Carr leaves program
UND announced Monday that redshirt freshman wide receiver Aeron Carr has left the program for personal reasons.
Carr, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound speedster, was expected to contribute as a reserve wide receiver and backup kick returner.
Carr, of Mesa, Ariz., was a Rivals 2-star recruit out of high school. He picked UND over several FCS offers, as well as a track and field opportunity from Ole Miss.
Meindel out 4 games
UND’s special teams will be inexperienced against San Jose State as sophomore punter Mitch Meindel will sit out four games for a violation of athletic department policy.
In Meindel’s absence, Bolduc, a Mahtomedi, Minn., native, will be asked to make his college debut.
Bolduc and the left-footed Taubenheim give UND a young special teams tandem.
“Our kicking game has had a big improvement in practice but now it has to carry into the game,” Schweigert said. “We hope to keep improving. That has to be solid, and we have to handle the protection to it, too.”