Moving inside: Linebacker Kraft, a Dickinson native, impressing during DSU’s spring practicesRidgeley Kraft’s play has his Dickinson State football coaches talking.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Ridgeley Kraft’s play has his Dickinson State football coaches talking.
“Ridgeley, his name has come up after practice here for the last week,” DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said.
Kraft, a Dickinson High School graduate, said spring practices have benefitted him greatly. At the moment, they’re also helping the senior-to-be earn a much bigger role than he has ever played for the Blue Hawks.
“It seems like just getting in, getting my reps and being at every practice is paying off,” Kraft said.
Kraft had 20 tackles and two sacks last year as an outside linebacker.
However, the Blue Hawks have a clear need at inside linebacker, where they return only senior Jay Grosz need to replace leading tackler Tyler Schmidkunz.
“It’s a place we need help at,” Biesiot said. “We’re looking for a big, strong guy. Not only is he (Kraft) that, but he’s a kid who has got very good movement. It’s nice to see him stepping up like he is. We’re just hoping for him to build on the confidence that he has shown.”
Outside linebacker is position where the Blue Hawks expect to be flush with talent.
Seniors Zach McCoy and Matt Seibert expect to be back, though McCoy is coming off a concussion that ended his season after the first game and Seibert hasn’t practiced this spring because of a torn pectoral muscle.
Senior Levi Vanuga, junior Cord Berg, sophomore David Stewart and redshirt freshman Matt McCoy are others who either have or expect to see time on the edge of DSU’s defensive front.
Kraft said he feels more comfortable playing inside linebacker, a position that traditionally leads the Blue Hawks in tackles, than he ever did at outside linebacker.
“I feel like it takes me back to my high school days and lets me get to where I learned how to play football in the first place,” Kraft said. “It’s more of a comfort level for me, even though I got used to playing outside. I just feel like I can see (the field) a lot better, get a feel for the game better from that position.”
Kraft said what may be his biggest help is that he hasn’t missed one spring practice — which are technically optional — unlike in previous years when he said work obligations or track and field practice got in the way of him attending.
Biesiot said his presence alone has shown in Kraft’s play.
“He’s near assignment perfect and is making his physical presence felt on the defensive side,” Biesiot said.
After finishing last season 4-6 overall, Kraft said he and his teammates have big aspirations as the Blue Hawks begin play in the Frontier Conference.
“I feel like it’s time for everyone to step up and be the team we need to be,” Kraft said.