Young Hawks could play big rolesKyle Stanton knows what it’s like to be that true freshman on a college football field.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Kyle Stanton knows what it’s like to be that true freshman on a college football field.
The Blue Hawks’ starting fullback saw time in the backfield last season in DSU’s thin running back group.
This season, several players from Stanton’s recruiting class will get their opportunity to shine on the field.
“I have a lot of confidence in them,” said Stanton, a sophomore who will start at fullback against Rocky Mountain College on Saturday. “I watched them play through high school. I definitely know what they can do and I’ve seen them play at practice. I think they’re ready to play. I think they’re going to step up and do well.”
Defensively, redshirt freshman Jaylen Sokoloski from Wibaux, Mont., is penciled in to start at safety, redshirt freshmen Meyer Bohn (inside linebacker), Matt McCoy (outside linebacker) and James Stanton (cornerback) are backups along with true freshmen inside linebacker and long snapper Colten Johnston, who is also from Miles City.
“All these young guys, regardless of us not having that much experience, we’ve still got a lot of talented athletes,” said Bohn, a Bismarck Century High School graduate. “When it comes down to it — besides all the strategy — they know how to play football. A lot of the guys just got a natural nose for the ball and they’ve got real good ability. That’s going to make up for some inexperience on the playing field, I would think.”
On offense, second-year freshman Wyatt Mirich joins an already talented receiver group and could be expected to step into a major role this fall after impressing coaches during his redshirt season.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver from Big Horn, Mont., has recovered from an ankle injury that kept him out of spring ball and the track and field season and just hopes he can contribute.
“I came into this year not with a lot of expectations, just with the hope that you get the opportunity to contribute,” Mirich said. “If you get that opportunity, you’ve just got to make the most of it.”
Along with Mirach, redshirt freshman fullback Kurt Aiken will be Stanton’s backup while redshirt freshman Lane Millay is a backup guard on a senior-led offensive line.
Freshman running backs Jordan Moore, Zach Sandau and Terrence Yelder and will get carries at a crowded tailback spot. Redshirt freshman quarterback Thad Lane is No. 3 on the depth chart.
Yet, the team’s dependency on freshmen could be most crucial on special teams.
True freshman Chad Bryant won the starting kicker spot and redshirt freshman Brian Askin will be the punter. Both are also defensive backs who coaches said could also step in at defensive back in nickel and dime packages.
Sokoloski, the lone starting freshman on DSU’s roster, said there could definitely be some growing pains for the younger players seeing time for the first time — especially in the secondary, which now has to contend with several pass-happy Frontier Conference teams.
Sophomore Shawn Alder is a first-year starter at cornerback while sophomore Bo Brooks and junior Blake Pirkl will see quite a bit of time at safety.
“I think we might struggle at first a little bit, but we just need to gel, get together and play together,” Sokoloski said.
Throughout the field, DSU is looking for newcomers to step up this season.
Blue Hawks head coach Hank Biesiot isn’t expecting the world of any of the youngsters, but said it’s hard not to hope that some of them can find early success.
“If you don’t expect it, you may not get it either,” Biesiot said. “Sometimes you throw a guy in there and he’s got to take his cuts and go with it.”