We have a spring season on the way and the team has started conditioning. It is time to analyze what the team may look like February 27th in the Kibbie Dome against Northern Colorado in our opener (subject to change).

I am going to to take my best educated guess at the two-deeps going into camp.

QB

QB1 is Mike Beaudry. It has been stated by coach Petrino more than enough times to be a slip-up. We also called this back in June. There is no competition at the position for the first time since 2017. Hopefully, it leads to similar success the last time we had a starter written in pen.

CJ Jordan is your backup. With a free year of eligibility this spring, expect him to play in any blowouts. Hopefully it’s us doing the blowout. This spring, paired with the allowed 4 games in fall, it is possible CJ Jordan could have 14 games worth of experience when he takes the field as a redshirt freshman starter for the 2022 season, which is unheard of! Just give us the ship 2022-2025 now.

I would be remise, as a noted Nikhil Nayar fanboy to not say, “Don’t Sleep on Nayar!”

FB

Logan Kendall, no question. Paul has raved about him! Moving on.

RB

True Sophomore Aundre Carter surely positioned himself to win this job. However, he has left the team. No worries; don’t forget we had the exact scenario last season. Top young rusher Tyrese Walker also did not return after a standout true freshman year.

As has been the case with Petrino in the past, we’ll have a “by committee” system. The hope is somebody breaks out and takes control, as in the past with Elijhaa Penny and Isaiah Saunders. Even with Carter, Walker, and Saunders, we started to divvy carries by matchup. Thigpen played a majority of the snaps against Portland State, only to have Nick Romano take most of them the next week.

Basically, expect Romano, Thigpen & Roshaun Johnson to be the “big three.” But, both redshirt sophomore Kiahn Martinez and Khalil Forehand are poised to be this season’s out-of-nowhere stud!

WR

Let me just be straight with you… Cutrell Haywood and the field.

That said, it is not to say we don’t have talent there. We just have been blessed over the past two years to have a mix of Jeff Cotton, David Ungerer, and Cutrell Haywood. Now it’s dwindled down to just Cutrell and a log jam of depth behind him. We have legitimately 10 dudes who could be in our top four. I will just list the guys to be aware of Jermaine Jackson (Junior, No. 1), Michael Noil (Redshirt Sophomore, No. 2), Sean McCormick (Sophomore, No. 10), DJ Lee (Redshirt junior, No. 11), Kyrin Beachem (Sophomore, No. 14), Kaleb Covington (Sophomore, No. 18), Bryson Lee (Sophomore, No. 20), Hayden Hatten (Sophomore, No. 80), Daseau Puffer (Sophomore, No. 88) and Noah Ormsby (No. 89).

You probably noticed most of the players I listed have no redshirt. I would expect a majority to become Redshirt freshmen and redshirt sophomores. We need to utilize the free eligibility in the spring and find the guys to use in the fall when eligibility counts, then keep the rest on ice for upcoming seasons.

My best guess for our five-wide set would be some combo of Cutrell Haywood, DJ Lee, Hayden Hatten, Jermaine Jackson, and Daseau Puffer.

OL

I am gonna be honest here, and shame on me. I am 5-foot-5 and the furthest thing from an offensive lineman. I know zero of the dudes in the trenches. I was a running back/linebacker in my youth and a cornerback in reality in high school.

Here’s what I know about the offensive line: Mathew Faupusa is an absolute stud and the best bet to fill the gap left by Noah Johnson. Darius Archie you can pen in as a starter, along with Logan Floyd. I know I’m most likely leaving multiple important players off this list.

For the new bloods, Noah Gunn and Josh Guzik were big recruiting grabs last year. I would expect one of them to capitalize on an open spot on the line, most likely at a tackle position.

Petrino spoke highly of Jory Dotts as being a mean son of a gun. I expect him to get reps with the free eligibility.

The rest of the line is filled in based on generic assumptions and available stats.

DL

See above for what I know about this side of the trenches as well, especially after running the opposite 4-3 concept my whole life to Idaho’s 3-4. However, Rahsaan Crawford and Kayode Rufai are animals! I know that.

Then you have what I will label “the four.” People forget we have, and I make no apologies for this comment … The best front seven in the entire FCS. Vei Tomasi, Noah Elliss, Jonah Kim, and Nate DeGraw start on almost every other roster in FCS, no questions asked. It is a benefit we have them as “rotational” players.

I think Jonah Kim is best set to be penciled in as the third star of the group, simply based on the fact Paul Petrino speaks highly of him, frequently.

LB

Mark me down now: We have four All-Americans. Now, well-known FCS pundits Sam Herder, Brian McLaughlin, and Craig Haley will NEVER put all four as first, second, or third-team All-Americans. Even the North Dakota State dynasty never received such an honor. But, I will die on this hill. Tre Walker, Christian Elliss, Chuck Akanno are first-teamers. Fa’avae Fa’avae, I would wager a condo will play at that level as well. In fact, Idaho may have the best four linebackers ever to play at the FCS level. You can @ me, I dare you. But before you do, imagine this. The returning solo tackles leader in the FCS as a sophomore, the leading NFL prospect at the FCS level, or the nation’s leader in tackles for loss through 10 weeks, despite missing three of those games, all standing behind you while you’re telling me I’m wrong.

The best part is … our depth is lethal behind them too. Sully Shannon, Jalen Jenkins, Coleman Johnson, Leo Tamba, Tanner Brooks, Hogan Hatten, and Talon Davis are all capable linebackers.

The Back End

Look, if you want me to get into the semantics of safeties versus corners, I will fail you. With no offense to whoever ends up playing safety for us (outside of Zach Borisch), we have a lot of what you would call defensive backs. This is not a slight, but a reference to our squad of guys being better defined as hybrids.

Dareon Nash is an All-Conference caliber transfer from Montana at corner. If there was a “pen-in” starter on this squad, he seems to be the guy.

Now, Jalen Hoover is rumored/reported to be in the transfer portal, but he’s a starter if he returns. However, he is good enough to get an offer elsewhere. We of all programs can’t be mad at a guy who wants to take his FBS shot if it comes along.

Most interesting player on backend is Tyrese Dedmon. He has been an amazing player for us and could be suprise standout.

Others to have an eye on… No. 6 Wyryor Noil (Redshirt junior), No. 12 Arnell Walker (Freshman), No. 15 Zach Borisch (Redshirt sophomore), No. 16 Jaxson Woodward (Redshirt sophomore), No. 18 Tommy McCormick (Freshman), No. 19 Tevin Duke (Senior), No. 22 Awan Parker (Junior), No. 23 Mujeeb Rufai (Redshirt sophomore), No. 28 Colbey Nosworthy (Freshman), No. 4 Jabril Pharms (Freshman), and No. 47 Tarynce Antolin (Freshman).

That is my best guess at our two-deeps headed into camp. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or on the twitter-sphere.

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