The Vandals open the 2007 season September 1st in Los Angeles at perrenial national powerhouse USC with the Trojans ranked No. 1 in the nation. Redshirt freshman NATHAN ENDERLE (6-5, 225) climbed to the top of the quarterback depth chart during spring drills, and he will lead the Vandal offense as fall camp officially begins and the team prepares for the 2007 season.
From our vantage point it looked like there were over 90 athletes on the SprinTurf Practice Fields in front of the Iverson Strength and Speed Center on Friday afternoon. Lots of new faces this fall, including 20+ walkons. The weather wasn't overly warm, but the heat has a tendency to radiate off the SprinTurf fields. The general comment about practices from our scouts centered around "Lots of enthusiasm on the players' parts." We noted that the team was decked out in new practice uniforms, as well as helmets without logos. The practice was "no contact" of course.
SIZING UP THE HOSSES:
The O-line was essentially the same group as who battled to the top unit last fall: Billy Bates
LT, Mike Iupati
LG, Adam Korby
at C, Adam Juratovac
at RG, and Kris Anderson
at RT. We anticipate serious competition within this unit throughout fall camp and the upcoming season, with a continuation of position battles at tackle led by redshirt freshman Kellen Beam
(6-7, 280), and at guard led by senior Marcis Fennell
INSIDE SLANT: We have it on extremely good authority that Beam is up to 280-pounds this fall and is filling out his 6-7 frame nicely…with room for more development.
INSIDE SLANT: At 6-7, 305 pounds as a high school senior, true freshman Tyrone Novikoff
garnered a lot of interest from Idaho fans when he signed with the Vandals this spring. And, without any doubt, he is every bit as big as advertised and will be a solid lineman for the Vandals in the years ahead. Surprisingly (or maybe not), he doesn't "stand out" physically like he would have just a few short years ago. The Idaho
line now includes guys like Beam (6-7, 280), Iupatti (6-6 330), Kurt Newboles
(6-7, 290), Bryce Sinclair
(6-5, 320), and Bates (6-5, 285). Instead of standing out, he actually fits in rather nicely. What a difference – we remember the days when you could spot former Vandal Hank Therien
anywhere on the field.
Vandals line with Enderle under center.|
THE GOOD HANDS PEOPLE:
Junior center Adam Korby (72), sophomore guard Mike Iupati (77), and junior left tackle Billy Bates (71).|
Tightends and wide receivers will be a heavy rotation for awhile [likely well into the upcoming season], and that started immediately Friday. An army of receivers got their shots with the starting offense, catching passes from starting redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Enderle
. Returning starters Max Komar
and Lee Smith
and the rest of the returning unit from last fall will get their reps with the first unit. However, true freshman recruit Eric Greenwood
(6-6, 210) from Edmonds (Wash.) saw significant reps with starting offense and displayed good hands, hauling in several nice catches on the afternoon.
Redshirt freshman Cary Jensen-Madison (15) and true freshman Dewey Hale (16) lineup for drills.|
INSIDE SLANT: It was just the first two days of drills, but there was a noticeable improvement in the hands on the receivers. More to the point, this weekend we didn't notice anywhere close to the number dropped balls as we've seen in recent fall camps in Moscow, and this can be applied to the entire depth chart. The freshmen will make their impact (on one play Greenwood bobbled the ball then hauled it in while hitting the turf on a drill), but the unit as a whole looks as if they've substantially improved this offseason.
True freshmen wide receivers Eric Greenwood (1), Dewey Hale (16), and Maurice Shaw (2) look on during drills.|
CARRYING THE ROCK:
At runningback redshirt freshman Deonte Jackson
was running with the #1 unit, with junior Jayson Bird
and sophomore Devon Sturdivant
rotating in generously. Senior Brian Flowers
was not on the field, but is listed on the roster. Our intel indicates he has to take care of a couple details, but Flowers is expected back on the field soon.
Runningback is expected to be a position of strength for the Vandals this fall, and opening day of camp did not disappoint. The accomplishments of this group is significant; Bird was named 2nd Team All-Sun Belt RB as a true freshman; Jackson has been running with the first team offense since spring drills; incoming freshman Corey White was considered by several analysts be among the #25 overall recruits signed by the WAC this year; and when he returns, Flowers is a former JC Grid Wire All-American who led Idaho in rushing last year. We anticipate serious competition throughout the chart.
LEADERSHIP AT LINEBACKER:
Although several position battles are looming defensively for Idaho, there is no question who is on Idaho's top linebacking unit. Returning 1st Team All-WAC linebacker David Vobora
, entrenched as Idaho's top inside linebacker (WILL), is spending a lot of time showing the new guys the ropes. Seniors Joartis Ratti
(MIKE) and Brandon Ogletree
(SAM) round out the top unit, as expected, and are proving to be leaders for the depth chart.
Veterans Brandon Ogletree (6-3, 235) and Jo Artis Ratti (6-1, 220) lead a deep and talented linebacking corps at Idaho.|
True freshman JoJo Dickson.|
INSIDE SLANT: The upperclassmen on this unit are going to get the most press, as well they should. But the youngsters coming up through the system have their own expectations to earn playing time, and jumped into the battle Friday. What this young group lacks in experience they more than make up for in physical talent. In short, the freshmen on this unit - both the true freshmen and the redshirts - look very promising. Among the true freshmen that stood out this weekend, keep an eye on #30 Justin Allen
(5-11, 207) – the Texas Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year - and #34 Joseph Dickson
(6-1, 202) from Hawaii. Both have outstanding range for freshmen.
THE FUTURE OF THE VANDAL LINEBACKING CORPS: #34 Joseph Dickson, #42 Paul Senescall, and #30 Justin Allen.|
It looks like there are two new Graduate Assistants at Idaho this fall. Jeremy Thielbahr, a former runningback at Washington State, will be helping out on offense, while David Brunner will be coaching the D.