The Bison released their first spring football depth chart today and there are no surprises with the returning players. Eight starters are back on defense and six on offense, although a couple of positions like running back and receiver have had multiple starters. You could make the case there are four starting running backs returning in Chase Morlock, Bruce Anderson, Lance Dunn and Bruce Anderson. Add promising freshman Demaris Purifoy to the mix — he looks nothing physically like he did coming out of high school — and experience really isn’t the problem despite the loss of Carson Wentz, Joe Haeg, Jeremy Kelly and Zach Vraa.
Fullback is a position of note with redshirt freshmen Brock Robbins and Garrett Malstrom being listed 1-2 on the chart. I would also expect Morlock to play some fullback and it wouldn’t surprise me if a tight end like Connor Wentz motions into a fullback spot from time to time. Wentz, by the way is listed as the No. 1 tight end with he and Jeff Illies tabbed to replace the departed duo of Andrew Bonnet and Lucas Albers. Most of the starting spots should be decided by the time the Spring Game ends on April 23, with the exception of punter since SMU transfer Jackson Koonce is not slated to come in until the start of fall practice. Currently, sophomore Ian Gallagher has the punting job, although look out for long snapper James Fisher, who also happens to be a very good punter. That would mean another long snapper is needed.
Of the local guys from around the F-M, sophomore Eric Bachmeier from Kindred made the two deep for the first time as the backup strong safety. Redshirt freshman Ty Brooks from Fargo South is listed as one of three kickoff returners. In all, nine players from the state of North Dakota are part of the chart, once again proving the 2003, 2004 notion wrong that in-state players would not be able to contribute at the FCS level.
A couple walkons surfaced as the backups at right tackle in 6-5, 296-pound redshirt freshman Andrew Trzebiatowski and 6-5, 268-pound junior Erik Olson. Trzebiatowski’s teams in Amhurst Junction, Wis., went 13-0, 12-1 and 13-1 in his three years as a starter including a state title his sophomore year.