It’s finally here! Eli Drinkwitz and his staff put names on a piece of paper and handed it out to the media! Let’s take a look, shall we?
Names in italics indicate a player that committed to the Odom staff, non-italicized names are players that committed to the Drinkwitz staff, and the block “C” indicates a player selected as a captain for the ‘22 campaign.
Ok, let’s break this down:
Brady Cook is the clear #1 with “OR” designations for the backup spot. Drink mentioned this publicly and the depth chart backs it up. Expected, good, moving on.
There’s nothing but options here as Young, Schrader, and Peat get listed as “OR” starters. We all probably figured this would be the case as no running back seemingly stood out from practice reports and there’s a lot of new, young faces in the running back room.
One of the top three receivers seems definitive as a starter and SURPRISE it’s Luther Burden III at the X-receiver position that’s listed as a starter with no “OR” designation. Drinkwitz mentioned last week that the receiving corps goes six deep and there are eight names listed here as options. In fact, the only receiver not mentioned is JUCO transfer Demariyon “Peanut” Houston, the sole receiver to not earn his number in camp. Whoops!
Buffalo-transfer Tyler Stephens gets the nod with walk-on Kibet Chepyator listed as an “OR” backup with Ryan Hoerstkamp. Chepyator saw his first action as a Tiger last year in a few snaps against Army; whether he expands his role with excellent execution or gets usurped by the younger guys will be an interesting thread to follow as the season goes on.
Five positions, ten slots, twelve names listed. Names of interest are fifth-year mountain man Bobby Lawrence listed as a backup to Javon Foster, former walk-on-turned-scholarship-player Richard Taylor listed first as a backup center, and FRESHMAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Armand Membou getting the backup designation at right tackle.
The number of incoming transfers in this position group has been well documented and it shows in the depth chart: of the twelve names listed at the four position only two are guys that Drinkwitz recruited out of high school: Arden Walker and Johnny Walker, Jr. Let’s hope experience = quality in this case!
Coach Baker said he wanted five guys he could rely on and there are five guys listed at the two linebacking spots. Hopper, Bailey, and Nicholson are no surprise - and will most likely account for the majority of snaps - but it is nice to see Columbia native Will Norris and youngster Dameon Wilson finally make it on the chart.
Two spots, five names listed with redshirt freshman Davion Sistrunk and true freshman Marcus Scott being the only guys not on the depth chart. Expect a healthy rotation of all five guys here unless someone makes a surprising leap to “#1 shut down corner” status.
Two safeties and the new “STAR” position means that seven of the nine safeties on the roster see their names listed. Clemson transfer Joseph Charleston will indeed be the nominal starter with Jaylon Carlies in your traditional safety roles while havoc-creator extraordinaire Martez Manuel gets first crack at the STAR role with converted 4-star corner Daylan Carnell backing him up. Tyler Jones and Isaac Thompson are the only two who won’t see playing time (according to the sheet of paper, anyway).
Mevis at kicker, Koetting at punter, KAD at both returner spots. I am surprised that Burden is only listed as a backup for punt returner but it could be an instance of the staff wanting him to “earn” the chance to return punts (or whatever hokey coach thing they do nowadays). Jake Hoffman will once again retain long snapper duties while the punting battle of fall camp has led Jack Stonehouse earning second-string punting obligations.
Just for fun, here’s a few numbers I pulled from this chart...
- Number of positions with zero “OR” designations: 8. Those positions are Left Tackle, Left Guard, Right Tackle, WILL Linebacker, one of the cornerback slots, the new STAR position, Kicker, and Punter. Does this mean those positions are solidified or that the team doesn’t have any viable option out of the two listed names? No clue!
- Number of starter positions without an “OR” designation: 20. Quarterback, X-receiver, the entire offensive line, every defensive position other than strong safety, Kicker, Punter, and Kick Returner. Now, all of those positions have “OR” designations for the backups but this is either a strong statement in favor of the guys they have slotted for the starting spot or just a public endorsement that means nothing once we hit game action. You can decide how you feel about it based on your mood and level of optimism.
- Number of Odom commits starting: 10. Brady Cook (QB), Javon Foster (LT), Xavier Delgado (LG), Trajan Jeffcoat (DE), Darius Robinson (DT), Isaiah McGuire (DE), Chad Bailey (MLB), Martez Manuel (STAR), Jaylon Carlies (FS), Harrison Mevis (K).
- Number of Drinkwitz commits starting: 13. Elijah Young (RB), Chance Luper (Z), Luther Burden III (X), Dominic Lovett (H), Tyler Stephens (TE), Connor Tollison (C), Connor Wood (RG), Zeke Powell (RT), Jayden Jernigan (DT), Ty’Ron Hopper (WLB), Kris Abrams-Draine (CB), Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. (CB), Joseph Charleston (SS),
- Number of Drinkwitz non-transfer commits starting: 7. Elijah Young (RB), Chance Luper (Z), Luther Burden III (X), Dominic Lovett (H), Connor Tollison (C), Kris Abrams-Draine (CB), Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. (CB)
Of course, this is just a sheet of paper that the staff felt obligated to hand out! How they actually manage each position and which guys they turn to in game action could absolutely be completely different than what the SID determines from watching practice.
But it does mean football is one day closer and that is always a good thing.