Ryan Smith will be a senior leader, but the Bison wouldn’t mind a freshman stepping forward at receiver this season.
Time for some catchup. Countdown belated No. 81 belongs to former wide receiver Warren Holloway, his number at NDSU and a player who was instrumental in leading the Bison to their first FCS national title. Why Warren? Because the Bison need to find the next Warren from a group of redshirt freshmen that would help make a difference this fall.
Senior Ryan Smith is outstanding in his role as a slot receiver who can run while Zach Vraa and Trevor Gebhart have shown flashes of being dependable. Nate Moody is that so-called possession receiver who doesn’t make many mistakes. But if the passing game is to take the next step, a valuable contribution from either Demetrius Gray or Carey Woods would be welcomed. Redshirt freshman DeSean Warren, who was outstanding in high school but has been pulled back by knee injuries, is still there.
At 6-3 Gray has the speed and the body type to get deep. He is also a backup deep kickoff return guy and is wearing Holloway’s old number. The 6-foot Woods is not small and played better as spring football went along. The question is this: re they too young to get on the field for more than spot duty?
It appears Warren Holloway is healthy enough that he will be a starting wide receiver on opening day. “Ninety-percent sure 81 will be out there on one side,” said receivers coach Kenni Burns. Holloway is dealing with rehab from a knee injury and a sprained shoulder suffered earlier this week. The other spot will be taken be one of four candidates: Zach Vraa, Trevor Gebhart, Ryan Smith or Reed Duchscher with Cooper Wahlo Jr. still hanging with the group. “He’s been pushed by those younger kids and I think he’s starting to see the light,” Burns said.
Other camp happenings today:
- Defensive tackle Justin Juckem’s status with a concussion could leave him sidelined “for a while,” said head coach Craig Bohl. Juckem has to clear the standard concussion tests. Junior Anthony Lavoy got some work with the first team in Juckem’s absence.
- Linebacker Carlton Littlejohn took a few reps with the No. 1s, curious to see how he fits in with the rotation this year. Linebacker Travis Beck is out for about another week with a pulled hamstring. The starting linebackers today were Chad Willson, Preston Evans and Brandon Jemison.
- True freshman running back Matt Jones looks like he could play right away if not for the depth NDSU has at that position.
- The offensive line has looked pretty disciplined. Rare has been the illegal procedure infraction.
- Also out is backup quarterback Dante Perez (ribs).
- (Update) When asked about the redshirt status of his freshmen, Bohl said, “Nothing right now. We’re looking at it. We’re a little deeper than we were last year.”
Bison head coach Craig Bohl said today that veteran receiver Warren Holloway will miss spring football because of damage to his knee. It was something that hampered him as the season went along, he said, with swelling being the main issue.
“He was able to persevere though it,” Bohl said.
Holloway is a rather known commodity, so missing spring ball is not that big of a deal for him, anyway. But for Zach Vraa, Trevor Gebhart, Reed Duchscher and Cooper Wahlo Jr. … it’s huge. For Justin Howard, a chance to make another stride.
Vraa and Gebhart redshirted last season. Duchscher and Wahlo did not have a reception. This is a position group that just needs to get better. Bohl said sophomore Nick Powell-Calhoun will be switched to defensive end. He was 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds as a redshirt freshman last year.