Position Preview: Special Teams

(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)
The Jackrabbit special teams improved across the board last season. The kicking was excellent, the return game proved to be an added weapon, and the coverage units were mostly solid.  The team returns all of the major contributors on the special teams units.  However, one of the joys of college football is a constant flow of athletes in and out of the program.  Young players often cut their teeth on special teams coverage units.  This year will be no different as the Jacks have to replace several standouts from their kick and punt coverage teams.

#4 Chase Vinatieri returns as the kicker for his junior year and was named as Hero Sports pre-season All-American.  Chase made 13 of 14 kicks going 10 for 10 from kicks greater than 30+ yards and 2 for 2 from 50+.  Chase's only miss was actually a blocked kick suffered on a miserable Hobo Day.  Chase was also 58-62 on extra points and was perfect the last seven weeks of the season.  No Jackrabbit fan will forget…

Position Preview: Wide Receiver

(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)
The Jackrabbit receiver room is losing a four time All-American but this may be the deepest the unit has ever been.  The Jacks return five guys who have played plenty of snaps and are joined by five red shirt freshmen who, by all accounts, had outstanding freshmen seasons getting stronger and learning the offense. Competition will be fierce for reps and certain players may a small but very important role for the offense.  The Jackrabbit receiver room is a fun place to be right now according to Robert Arnheim who is entering his 3rd year as the receivers coach.  Arnheim stressed that the room takes pride in their role in the offense, which includes run blocking.  The group possesses a lot of versatility and guys can move between the different spots. 

#1 Jacob Brown (5-11, 195) started for much of 2017 as the receiver opposite Jake Wieneke.  Now a junior, he will be counted on to take the next step after catching 18 passes for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Brow…

Position Preview: Offensive Line

(Photo by Larry Sellers)

The #605 Hogs are back and ready for business.  Coach Jason Eck returns for his third season with the Jacks. The oline has made big strides both seasons and the hope is that they improve again in year three.  Last year they only allowed 23 sacks on the season and paved the way for 176.6 rushing yards per game.  There were moments last season where they were down right dominant and moments where they struggled to adjust what the opponents were doing.  If they can take the next step and increase their consistency to go along with the physicality then they could be the best line in the MVFC.  As always, young players will need to continue to develop but this is the deepest offensive line unit the Jackrabbits have fielded in a number of years.  

#77 Wes Genant (6-4, 305) returns for his third season.  During his true freshmen year he was the right tackle and last year he started all 14 games at right guard.  However, Genant worked at center in spring ball so he m…

Position Preview: Tight Ends

(Photo by of Larry Sellers)

The Jackrabbits bring back two players who contributed a lot to a successful unit.  However, we all know that Dallas Goedert graduated and his moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles.  The 2x All-American carried on a long tradition of high quality Jackrabbit tight ends but elevated the expectations to a whole new level.  This is good because it has caused everyone else to raise their game.  The position group is coached by Luke Schleusner and he has stressed that no one person will be able to replace the production of Dallas.  But collectively they can.  The players have to step up and be better than they were last year and make plays when their number is called.  So far, coach has been impressed with their hard work and fun attitude.  

#83 Kallan Hart (6-5, 255)   Last season Hart served as an inline blocking tight end.   He did a great job in this role.  As a pass catcher, Hart has greatly improved according to Schleusner.  Last year he only had 2 receptions …

Position Preview: Running Backs

(Photo courtesy of Larry Sellers)
The Jacks return two very experienced backs for the Jackrabbit offense.  Mikey Daniel and Isaac Wallace represent a bit of a "thunder and lightening" for the Jackrabbits.  New position coach Zach Lujan recognizes that they are losing lots of production with the graduation of Brady Mengarelli but he is confident that the group can collectively replace that production. 

Running Backs
#26 Mikey Daniel (6-0, 230)  returns after a very good sophomore season.  Mikey rushed for 482 yards on a 4.8 ypc average to go with 11 touchdowns.  Teams new that Mikey was going to get the ball in the redzone and still couldn't stop him.  This is a credit to the offensive line but also the hard running style that Mikey exhibits.  Coach Lujan sharead that Mikey is in tremendous shape and he is looking to expand his role in the offense from a goal line and 3rd down back to an every-down player.  One of Mikey's more underrated duties is being the second retu…

Position Preview: Quarterbacks

(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)
We reviewed the defense last week but now it is time to take a look at an offense full of new play makers.  In just a year this position has undergone quite a bit of change.  Gone are Dalton Douglass, Alec Cromer and Ethan Bullock.  However, the constant of Taryn Christion at the helm should assure all Jackrabbit fans.  I had the chance to visit with Coach Eric Eidsness who is the quarterback coach and the offensive coordinator.  He's excited about having another season to coach Taryn and wondered what might have been for Taryn if the new red shirt rules had been in place in Taryn's true freshman season.

Obviously Taryn is penciled in as the number one quarterback this season but after that there is fierce competition for the number two and number three quarterback spots.  The third spot matters because that is a travel roster spot. 

#3 Taryn Christion (6-2, 225) enters his senior year as the unquestioned leader of the offense.  Statistically, Tary…

Position Preview: Defensive Ends

(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)

The defensive end group entered last season as a fairly inexperienced group.  However, the 2018 group returns an All-Conference level starter and many of the rotational players.  The group is also joined by a juco and two players who red shirted last season.  This group feels like a unit that is ascending because of the returning experience and the young talent that has been developed.  If a couple of the younger players can translate their successful spring into the fall camp, watch out for this group.  

Coach Clint Brown has now been with the Jacks for 10 seasons as the defensive coordinator and also as the defensive end position coach.  The Jacks play a 4-3 defense almost exclusively and Coach Brown relies on his front four to get after the quarterback with limited blitzes.  .      

 #90 Ryan Earith (6-4, 255) had an excellent sophomore campaign after recovering from an injury.  Earith plays the run really well and is able to get to the quarterback regist…