Most Impactful Redshirt Freshman

Submitted by GrowBlue on March 9th, 2013 at 8:45 AM

This was touched on a bit by Brian's Spring Ball post, but I think it's woth its own interesting discussion. What are everyone's expectations of this year's Redshirt Freshman? Here is a handy list that I got from TTB (


RB Drake Johnson
OL Blake Bars
OL Ben Braden
OL Kyle Kalis
OL Erik Magnuson
WR Jehu Chesson
DE Matt Godin
DT Willie Henry
DE Tom Strobel
DE Chris Wormley
LB Kaleb Ringer
S Jeremy Clark
S Allen Gant

Certainly some of these guys are going to need to play large roles on this year's team. What are your thoughts on the top handful? What about a ranking?

Some of my thoughts, but not necessarily a ranking.

  • Kyle Kalis - I'm guessing we all have him at or near the top of the list. We need to replace all 3 interior OL starters, and he's the best bet to be one of them. Most have  him slated for LG.
  • Drake Johnson - There was praise coming from the coaches last year, and the new Kenny Demens comments add further evidence. Drake was a monster in HS. Fitz's future is uncertain. The true freshmen (Green/Smith/Shallman) will only have a few weeks on campus before the season starts. Rawls is uninspiring. I say Johnson has a real opportunity for some minutes.
  • Jehu Chesson - We're in dire need for someone to step up outside to complement Jeremy Gallon. We don't have much to go on for Chesson, other than HS. What does it mean that he redshirted and Darboh didn't? Is it just to create one class of separation between the two? Is Darboh 'more ready' than Chesson? Etc.
  • Chris Wormley - Before his injury, there were expectations that he'd fill a big role last year. Mattison likes to rotate DL, so we'll likely play the best 6 or 8 guys. The depth chart at SDE is uncertain, and Wormley could certainly factor in there.
  • Jeremy Clark / Allen Gant - We don't really know how the safety position will shake out this year with Kovac's departure. We certainly need a smart guy back there to be the captain of the secondary. Some think that Gordon will move to SS, freeing up his FS spot. What does it mean that Jarrod Wilson played last year and these other two didn't? Maybe simply because he enrolled early...

What do you think? If you think Kalis is first, then try to give another guy or two that's high up there :)



March 9th, 2013 at 8:55 AM ^

Definetly Kalis.  He seems like the most likely starter from this list.  I think people will look to him as a gauge of how our o-line will play this year.  If he steps in and looks like the 5 star mauler he is expected to be, it will be a good year.  If he struggles a bit, we could be in for some growing pains.


March 9th, 2013 at 11:56 PM ^

Agree. I'll go so far as to say that Kalis is possibly my #1 "cannot afford to be a bust or injury prone" guy from not only his class but the team moving on. I may be being unfair to such a young player but I'll be a bit concerned if he isn't starting at LG come game 1. I say that as we have seen many Freshman OL start for good lines just in my lifetime (late 80's had some, early 90's had a handfull and, IIRC, the 97 team started 2-3 Freshman OL and, again, IIRC, one was a true FR). I'll admit to being a bit concerned if you plug him in next to Lewan and we cannot gain 3-4 yards at will off that left side regardless of back the majority of time. So, Kalis answers OP's question and my own personal "who we NEED to step up big as a RS FR" question.

 After Kalis, it has to be 1-2 DL that can hold their own as they rotate in spot time (or more if they can really shine). I'm not as big on Wormley doing well early as some are.The sheer athleticism and size is there in spades but coming off injury and technique makes me think we won't hear too much from him for another year. Yet,  I think Strobel could get some time as a rotation run stopper given his size and not being the dual pass rush/run stop threat a Wormley is. Kid just lines up and plugs holes and it may be all we need from him this year. I'd love to see another Glenville kid have early success here like Clark did (trouble aside) so I'm hoping Henry's size and athleticism at the inside can give him some solid minutes.

 Finally, my good and bad shocker predictions (not long term but their first couple years based on how much we may need them as before the internet scouting era it was usual to allow a kid 3 years to develop):


Good - Chesson, Clark, Braden

Bad - Bars, Gant, Mags, Wormley


EDIT: Again, to clarify I am simply saying that it wasn't until the boom of internet recruiting sites that fans expected a kid to play well immediately and go so far as to call a kid a bust if he doesn't come in and light it up as a true or RS Freshman-Sophmore.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:09 AM ^

I second Kalis. Although I won complain if Green shows up and steamrolls past the competition.

(And on a very respectful, gentlemanly note, perhaps we could use the word "effective" in place of "impactful" -- which is gaining currency on the webs but not in standard dictionaries.)


March 9th, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

Ya know, I actually thought about that word choice. =) I know 'impactful' is quasi-naughty, but it seemed to fit best what I was asking: Who will have an impact? 'Effective' doesn't really convey what I was asking. I'm guessing they're all 'effective' football players, but they will not all have the same impact the team's performance.


March 9th, 2013 at 11:07 AM ^

And I'm not immune from wanting to use it either. But as I've seen it become more popular here, I couldn't help but draw notice to it. It's obviously no big deal, but one thing that I've always appreciated about this community, is that we value things like writing more than the average Internet sports site.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:22 AM ^

Thank you, for I cringe whenever I see the awkward 'impactful' in formal writing, which this, of course, is not. But if you read the sports columns on, you will see 'impactful' smattered all over those concerneing UM sports. Its shameful, and quite impactful to my reading experience.. 


March 9th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

Kalis would have to be #1 and then I would have to go with one of WR's as a close second since that position is needed to step up the most.

I do like all the praise that D Johnson is getting.. Competition at the RB level should be really high this yr..Cant wait


March 9th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

Kalis for sure.  Based on all of the reports from last year's camps and season, I wouldn't be surprised  if he's the next Lewan.  I think Chris Wormley will be a beast on the DL too.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

As far as Darboh and Chesson, I just have a sense that the coaches might have seen greater potential upside for Chesson and that's why they redshirted him.  Neither one was really going to contribute at WR as freshmen anyway. But this is just a gut feeling...nothing to really substantiate it. I really do have high hopes that at least one of those two can become a go-to receiver.  They both have size and some speed and both seem like intelligent guys who work hard and are very coachable.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:24 AM ^

I think the reason for Darboh to play last season was based on his size.  Chesson was pretty damn skinny coming in and probably needed that extra season just to be able to contribute on special teams.  

Chesson is listed at 183 and Darboh is listed at 220.  That is a pretty significant difference in size. 


March 9th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

There's an interview somewhere...maybe it was during the NSD stuff...from Coach Heck.

He essentially says that Chesson was much rawer, not only physically but in the various facets of a WR's game. I think that's pretty much all it boils down to.

Not to mention, if they think he has a higher upside, they'd probably plan on him leaving earlier anyway, so redshirting him wouldn't make much of a difference if that was their true motivation. Unless they just don't think Darboh has that high of an upside. But yeah, I think it's the first one. 


March 9th, 2013 at 9:15 AM ^

And then I'll say Wormley. These two will make the biggest impact. Drake could get some ST's action, but honestly I think our running game will be inconsistent again for another year.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:18 AM ^

Everyone seems to be in agreement that Kalis has the best opportunity to stand out.  To take it in a different direction then, I'd like to see Chesson, or Johnson blow up and have huge years.  

If even one of those happens, we should have a great 2013 football season.  


March 9th, 2013 at 9:25 AM ^

“First of all, Drake Johnson is another player who gave us problems on scout team. Drake was one of those guys that when Coach Mattison ripped our butts wide open it was because Drake Johnson more than likely did his thing, got loose on us… whatever it was. Drake is going to be a great player. I like his style. He runs hard. If he sees me in the hole he is going to bring me his all and that was big coming from an 18-year old.”


March 9th, 2013 at 9:26 AM ^

There were some good things coming out of camp about him last yr. I know we all like to use the stars as a gauge during recruiting, but when the kids show up to practice I think you clean the slate.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:26 AM ^

Kalis is pretty obvious choice, and if Chris Bryant isn't going to be a factor then Braden will likely need to step up.  I think one guy being overlooked is Tom Strobel.  He had good practice reports last year, and the main issue was he needed some bulk for the SDE spot.  I think he becomes a factor this year.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:29 AM ^

After hearing some tidbits from bowl practices it would be nice to get some of that breakaway speed in the backfield.  Not sure how well he would do breaking tackles though and this may be a moot point if Green comes in and is the best thing since Wheatley.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:32 AM ^

As long as we have smart kids willing to bust their asses mattison will make them great. I hope he coaches for a long time.


March 9th, 2013 at 9:34 AM ^

We'll have a lot of depth at DL if Wormley and Strobel are good. 

Quinton Washington

Jibreel Black

Ondre Pipkins

Frank Clark

Brennan Beyer

Mario Ojemudia

Chris Wormley

Tom Strobel


March 9th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

I think Richard Ash is sorta destined to be a career back-up at this point. I know, I know, he's only a RS Junior, but he's effectively been passed by Peewee. The coaches have had 2 years to evaluate and coach him up and he keeps getting pushed down the depth chart. He wasn't bad when he played this year, but he's gotten every chance to feature more prominently and...hasn't. 

Unfiltered Manball

March 9th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

I feel is reasonable expectation.  Any RS freshman play that exceeds good or is consistently good is just gravy.  I like gravy-  lots of gravy.

What about Matt Godin?  He had above average size already last season.  With a year of adding muscle and technique, maybe he can bring the gravy.