Jeff Kolpack, Published August 04 2012
Bison coaching staff working to finalize linebacker depth chartFARGO – Brandon Jemison spent much of practice Saturday in player-coach mode. It appears that will be part of his role this season.
A second surgery to his hips has limited the North Dakota State linebacker for the second time in three years. Now a senior, the Fargo South graduate said he’s going to give it all he’s got with the knowledge that it may never reach 100 percent.
“It’s the PG version of me,” Jemison said.
Perhaps the toughest part, he said, is watching himself on film. Once a linebacker who could run with anybody in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, he hobbled off the field on the few plays that he partook in practice on Saturday.
“I’ll look at film and say, ‘Wow, that’s what I look like?’ ” Jemison said. “I’m just going to play football. Just going to play.”
The starting linebackers in the first week of practice are undisputed: junior Grant Olson at middle linebacker and junior Carlton Littlejohn and sophomore Travis Beck on the outside. The depth chart after that will most likely be determined in the next three weeks.
“That’s what we’re trying to find out right now,” said linebackers coach Steve Stanard.
Jemison is in the mix along with sophomore DeShawn Dinwiddie and freshman Nick Scoliere. Stanard said if he had to rank them it would be Dinwiddie as the No. 4 linebacker and Jemison as the fifth. Redshirt freshman Joey Sonnenfeld is making the move from safety, redshirt freshman Alex LaVoy played well in spring football and junior college transfer Antonio Rodgers is out with a hamstring injury.
Stanard said nobody has been ruled out of not playing and that includes true freshmen Jacob Davis, MJ. Stumpf and Zach Riopelle.
“That’s the difference from last year – the depth,” Stanard said. “We had depth last year.”
That was the subject of his post-practice talk with the linebackers: there is an opportunity for anybody to play but it’s either opening or closing fast.
Jemison would just like to be part of something on the field. He spent a lot of time observing on one knee from behind the secondary during drills.
“That’s what I did the spring of my sophomore year, I was basically another coach,” he said.
Meanwhile, head coach Craig Bohl said starting running back Sam Ojuri will be out two weeks with a strained knee. Defensive linemen Ryan Drevlow and Justin Juckem sat out Saturday’s practice with minor injuries.
NDSU loses two players to serious knee injuries
North Dakota State lost two players for the season including linebacker Logan Hushka, who had surgery to repair the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee, and true freshman receiver DeSean Warren.
It’s the second straight season-ending injury for Hushka, a junior from Fargo Shanley. He had surgery to repair a shoulder problem last year. The latest ailment happened in spring football and never healed to expectations, so it was surgically repaired about four weeks ago.
“It’s getting pretty old and annoying,” Hushka said, “but it’s part of the game and unfortunately it’s happened to me more than others. It’s something I have to deal with and get through it.”
The recovery is expected to take six to nine months, but Hushka said his plan is to return to the team. He’s going to look into obtaining a medical hardship so he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.
Meanwhile, Warren tore his ACL in a non-contact drill in practice. It’s the second straight year he’ll be sidelined – he tore the ACL in his other knee in high school in Overland Park, Kan.
He was an all-state receiver as a junior at Blue Valley West High School, catching 38 passes for 767 yards and seven touchdowns and averaging 33 yards per kickoff return.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
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Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.