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UND tries to simulate game-time situations

FNS Photo by Luke Franke The University of North Dakota football players take part in drills practices on August 2 at Memorial Coliseum in Grand Forks.

GRAND FORKS — Simulating game action became a difficult task last spring for the University of North Dakota football team, which was limping along after an overhaul of the coaching staff.

Because of graduation and a few transfers, the team’s list of cornerbacks was only four names long and three were walk-ons.

That’s all changed this fall as UND has eight cornerbacks and five new faces competing for starting spots.

UND plans to go through live situations for the first time in fall camp this morning at Memorial Stadium.

One of the most important position battles will be for the two-deep spots on the depth chart at cornerback. Three of the four corners in last year’s two-deep chart are gone, including both starting corner spots.

The ideal mentor

UND first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert has first-hand knowledge of the position battle as he specifically coaches the cornerbacks.

“We’re still learning and there’s a lot of room for improvement,” UND true freshman corner Chris Carter said. “But I think we’re taking lots of big strides.”

The top two cornerback holdovers from the 2013 season are Chris Brown and Maverick Edmunds, who are being challenged by Carter and University of Houston transfer Alex Tillman, among others. Brown played in 11 games but registered just five tackles, while Edmunds didn’t see the field.

A year ago, UND started now-departed Chris Hall (a senior) and Daryl Brown (transfer to Minnesota-Duluth) at the corner positions. They were part of a defense that allowed 426.5 yards of total offense per game during the dismal 3-8 season.

Carter, who is 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, comes to UND from Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The school has won three straight state titles.

Ready for action

Carter appears to be one of the leading candidates to have his redshirt pulled. He said he’s had an adjustment period to the college game, though.

“Definitely a little different,” Carter said. “Everyone’s fast. In high school, everyone’s not fast. I realize I’m going against grown men, so I need to play like a grown man myself. I’ve had to adjust fast.

“I would love to play right away as a true freshman. I’m here to compete. My goal is to become a starter.”

Schweigert has noticed Carter’s play.

“He has good competitive spirit,” Schweigert said. “We like that about him so far.”

Tillman, who played special teams and in backup roles at Houston, has also caught the eye of his head coach.

“You can tell he’s physically strong and mature,” Schweigert said.

UND is also hoping to receive contributions from junior college transfers Charles Flowers and Domo Blackmon, although Blackmon has sat out recent practices with a nagging injury.

“Flowers made some good progress the last couple of days,” Schweigert said. “The thing that concerns us is we’ve had a couple guys sit out now for a while. We don’t get better by sitting out.”