Here’s my best guess at a depth chart. I actually had a tough time figuring out how to do this because there are really a ton of options. With that being said, it is just a guess. I actually think there will be a lot of movement during the spring and we’re really going to figure out where the coaching staff has some guys slotted between the middle and weakside spots.
|Depth Chart & Eligibility Remaining|
|1st Team||Pete Robertson||JR||6-3/225|
|2nd Team||Andre Ross||JR||6-3/220|
|3rd Team||Zach Barnes||SO||6-3/215|
|1st Team||Sam Eguavoen||SR||6-1/220|
|2nd Team||Micah Awe||JR||6-0/210|
|3rd Team||Kris Williams||RS SO||6-1/220|
|4th Team||Malik Jenkins||SO||6-2/205|
|5th Team||Bobby Esiaba||JR||6-0/205|
|1st Team||V.J. Fehoko||SR||5-11/225|
|2nd Team||Kahlee Woods||RS FR||6-0/220|
|3rd Team||Tyler Scalzi||SO||6-4/225|
|4th Team||Dakota Allen||FR||6-2/228|
|5th Team||Grant Bouma||FR||6-3/220|
|1st Team||Zach Winbush||SR||6-1/215|
|2nd Team||Chris Payne||SR||5-10/187|
|3rd Team||Austin Stewart||SR||6-0/205|
|4th Team||Jacarthy Mack||RS FR||6-3/180|
|5th Team||Colin Bowen||RS FR||6-3/200|
|6th Team||Connor Wilson||FR||6-3/205|
I think I'm pretty good with this position and I could honestly see Gary Moore swinging here depending on whether or not how much weight he adds. I think that some of the other players could eventually swing here. Keep in mind that Robertson was initially at safety, then a defensive end and finally ended up at the Bandit spot under Wallerstedt. I am curious as to how Robertson will play with a bigger defensive line. I wonder if this is going to help free him up to make more plays, which is what I sort of envision for this team.
Ross is going to need to get much more playing time this year I think. I am a bit concerned about whether or not he can play and right now, we just don't know because Robertson received so much playing time.
I've put Barnes here as he really was the biggest guy of the linebackers from the 2013 class in terms of height and weight. I think he did a terrific job of getting to the passer as a freshman and could see him continue that role.
I think that Eguavoen has this spot fairly locked up. This is the spot that Eguavoen finished last year, so I think he keeps it. My problem is where some of these other guys play and whether or not I've got the right guys in the right spots. There's part of me that thinks that Wallerstedt will flip-flop the guys I have a middle and weakside, but you still get the idea. If Wallerstedt wants a guy that can get up and down the sideline, then I the group with Eguavoen, Awe, Williams and Jenkins are his guys. If Wallerstedt wants run stoppers, then Fehoko and Woods are his guys.
I think this sets up pretty nicely for this spot. I know that some of you were worried about recruiting linebackers in the 2014 class, but as you can see, there's some pretty young and balanced depth here. The one spot that doesn't have a ton of depth is the Bandit spot and I think the staff is going to develop this type of player.
Eguavoen is solid, but I'd still like to see him add more weight. I think that the coaches have been saying that for a long time and it just hasn't happened. The same goes for Awe, he's ferocious, but you've got to have more size here I think. Williams tore up his knee before the season started, and he was really coming on as a player. I think he could really surprise.
Jenkins was receiving a lot of quality time on special teams and I could see that again. Same thing goes for Esiaba, who I think actually earned a scholarship.
I think that Fehoko will work out here, but if he doesn't, I think that Eguavoen can flip here to this spot and then Awe or Williams will move into that starting spot. I have no reason to think that Feoko won't start here because I think there is a need, but there is certainly some versatility with this group. Woods is plugged in as the back-up here although he didn't play at all last year. If he's put on just a bit of weight, he's pretty close to having enough size that I think this coaching staff wants.
After that, it's a guess. Salzi gets the nod here because I could also see Allen being moved to the Bandit spot. I have a feeling that the coaching staff is going to be surprised with what they have in Allen and will take a year to figure out where he'll fit in best.
In one year, this position will be completely thinned out, but for this year, there's a ton of players here.
If you made me put money on who I think will be the best player during the spring, I'd guess that Payne will win this spot hands-down. Yeah, he's undersized, but he can play. Stewart has been suspended with two coaching staffs and I'm having some trust issues here. Winbush is the safest bet. After that, I'm not sure, but it does make sense that Mack is the best option as a raider given his current size and length, could be just perfect. Same thing goes for Bowen and Wilson, who are already pretty close to that size. I actually think Bowen could really work into the mix after this year. He's a terrific athlete. Wilson is the only guy that didn't have his film made public, so I've only see the few bits released by the athletic site. I'd like to see more, but this is where he's being recruited to play.