Given this, combined with an influx of high school and JC talent, position battles are stepping into high-gear. Even more important is the fact that many of these battles are happening between 2nd and 3rd teamers, not just players battling for starting roles. The depth chart at most positions is extremely fluid right now as the team's youth makes a run at playing time this fall.
Senior Nate VanderPol (68) and sophomore Adam Korby (72) are returning starters from last season.
Adam Juratovac is in a heated battle for starting right guard.
The battle for the starting right guard position has been intense between junior Marcis Fennell (6-2, 305), redshirt freshman Adam Juratovac (6-4, 290) - last year's OFFENSIVE Scout Team Player of the Year - and converted defensive lineman Tyrel Fenwick (6-7, 265), a walkon who last fall earned Idaho's DEFENSIVE Scout Team Player of the Year. All three are getting good looks with the first team and we expect this to be an ongoing battle all fall.
Mike Iupati instantly bulks up the Vandal OL depth chart. He could play guard or tackle, and is currently working at LG.
Newcomer Mike Iupati (6-6, 330), a sophomore, has been working as the #2 left guard behind Tadvick and has been impressive in one-on-one drills already. He has impressive agility and foot speed for such an enormous athlete, and will be one to watch closely in the weeks and years ahead.
Sophomore Billy Bates (6-5, 275) was one of the true freshmen last year who was forced to burn his redshirt to cover for injuries that plagued the Vandals all season long...particularly in the trenches. He filled in for VanderPol when Nate was injured against UW and went on to start two games before an injury against Fresno State ended his season. By our account he has been working most frequently as the #2 right tackle behind Anderson, and he is expected to be a serious contender for playing time this fall.
Grayshirt freshman Kellen Beam is among a crop of newcomers who give Idaho much needed depth for the future.
At right tackle monstrous redshirt Bryce Sinclair (6-5, 345) and true freshman recruit Tristan Turner (6-4, 280) have been getting their reps with the 2s and 3s.
Korby appears to have a strangle-hold on the starting job at center, but redshirt freshmen Irvin Stevens (6-3, 267) and Brandon Schulte (6-3, 290), a RS-Fr walkon out of Pomeroy (WA) are getting their reps with the #2 offense.
One more grayshirt freshman to keep an eye open for is Kurt Newboles. At 6-7, 298 pounds, the big kid out of Chehalis (WA) will likely begin making some noise soon. He's been at practice but appears to be slowed with an injury (unconfirmed). When he's healthy, he will add one more body to what has suddenly become a solid, albeit young offensive line depth chart.
And given the freakish array of injuries that barraged the Vandal OL last season, depth in this unit will be a good thing. By our account, Idaho is working 3 full offensive line platoons. That is an amazing transformation in the last 2 years for a team that in 2004 went into the season opener with 2 true freshmen starting on the offensive line....virtually unheard of at any level of college football.
Stepping back for a moment, this group, beyond the starters, is still young. But the benefits of recruiting to the Western Athletic Conference are starting to pay off, and after two diligent years of Idaho's recruiting focus being on rebuilding the Vandal OL, the effort is beginning to finally pay off.