USD Football: Speed, speed, speed

BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

USD freshman running back Michael Fredrick takes the ball from quarterback Brian Woodward during Monday afternoon's practice in Vermillion. (Jeremy Hoeck/P&D)

USD freshman running back Michael Fredrick takes the ball from quarterback Brian Woodward during Monday afternoon’s practice in Vermillion. (Jeremy Hoeck/P&D)

VERMILLION – As we stood out on the field after practice on Monday, Joe Glenn handed me another 2015 University of South Dakota football roster (I’ve got plenty!) and made notes next to three names of freshmen who have really stood out during fall camp.

No. 14 Michael Fredrick. No. 31 Shamar Jackson. No. 84 Danny Rambo.

“They’re all fast guys,” Glenn said, looking up as I asked what he likes about those three.

And that’s exactly what the Coyotes needed.

They needed a home run threat. Someone who could score on any play. Someone who was maybe just a step faster than the guys they’re going against in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

So far, though it’s still coming in practice, those three look to be able to fill that role.

In an effort to bring in some extra speed, the Coyote coaching staff dipped into the state of Florida more than they had previously in Glenn’s tenure. By the time National Signing Day arrived, there were five recruits from the Sunshine State.

“When I first committed, I didn’t think anyone from Florida was up here,” Fredrick said after Monday’s practice.” Now it’s five of us. We can relate to each other and we know what we can all do.”

Of those five, Fredrick (RB/Returns) and Jackson (RB/WR/Returns) look to provide the most immediate impact for the Coyotes.

And it’s easy to see why: They’re fast dudes.

“They recruited a lot of speed,” a smiling Jackson said. “That’s what they wanted the most, so that’s what we wanted to bring to the table.”

Fredrick is perhaps the most true tailback of the incoming freshmen, while Jackson will likely see more action at wide receiver – as well as from the backfield and returns. Rambo, like the other two, isn’t exactly the tallest offensive weapon the Coyotes have, but he’s certainly proving he’s one of the fastest.

“They’ve all got another gear,” Glenn said.

And beyond that, Glenn and his staff have raved about the attitude of the three freshmen – as well as the others – and their grasp of the playbook.

“They ask questions in meetings that are good questions,” Glenn said.

Some other observations from Monday’s practice:

Offensive Line
There could be some shifting on the offensive line, as Sam McLeran still battles a shoulder injury. Two spots seem set already: Derek Chancellor and Nile Banks would both start, and then certain other guys would fill in the other spots. Newcomer Thomas McGuire, the transfer from Elon (North Carolina), will likely see plenty of action on the line, perhaps even at center.

Battles At Wide Receiver
The first two spots seem obvious: Eric Shufford Jr. and Riley Donovan, but from there, the Coyotes have a number of options for spots 3-through-whatever. Shamar Jackson figures to see significant action at receiver, while other such as Nick Meyer, Paul Anderson, Ben Kramer and Brandt Van Roekel could be targets. Danny Rambo is one of those freshman who has impressed the coaches, so he will likely see plenty of action right away.

Secondary
This is a spot I’d like to devote more attention to on my next visit to Vermillion, perhaps Friday. I didn’t delve much into that when I was over there yesterday, but undoubtedly that’s an area worth examining – there are plenty of options: Michael Lilly, Dylan Jiles, Adam Harris, Tyson Graham Jr., Will Armstead, Jacob Warner, Adam Juhl, Chris Tyler, etc.

Q&A with Amanda Hart

BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

Amanda Hart (courtesy DWU)

Amanda Hart (courtesy DWU)

Forty days. That’s all it took for Amanda Hart to take a couple giant leaps up the coaching ladder.

In that span, Hart – an Alexandria native – has gone from being an assistant coach at an NAIA Division II women’s basketball program to a member of an NCAA Division I women’s basketball staff.

The 23-year-old former Dakota Wesleyan University basketball standout and former assistant coach was announced Monday as Director of Basketball Operations for head coach Amy Williams at the University of South Dakota.

For Hart, one of the most prolific scorers in DWU history, it’s been a whirlwind last 40 days. She’s known about the USD opportunity for a while now, but as she said, “I kept it to myself for a week. I wanted to wait to let it come out on its own.”

On July 9, Hart was announced as the top assistant for coach Jason Christensen at Dakota Wesleyan, replacing Sam Sikkink who left for a position at Bemidji State (Minnesota).

Now, she’s readying herself for life at the Division I level.

She spoke with the Press & Dakotan on Monday night about her new position.

It’s been a busy summer for you, hasn’t it?

Yeah, that’s for sure. Sam had announced she was leaving in the middle of June, and coach told me I would take her spot. I wasn’t actively looking for jobs or anything; I was happy where I was at. Then a few weeks ago, Amy gave me a call and said she had this position come open, and would I be interested? Immediately I was. Career-wise, it was a no-brainer. Even though I was having a great experience at Dakota Wesleyan, I couldn’t say no.

Has this always been a goal, to coach at the Division I level?

Definitely. There’s never really been a doubt in my mind; I always wanted to get into coaching. It didn’t really matter the level, NAIA or Division II or Division I, it wasn’t a huge deal to me. I didn’t think at 23, I would get there, but I found a really good situation.

How did your experience at DWU help you for something like this?

I had an awesome experience with coach Christensen and the program. He had a lot of trust in me, let me take the reins with certain things that a lot of assistants probably don’t get to do. Going from a player to a coach in that role, it was a huge learning curve, and I’m really grateful I was able to do that with them.

So this USD opportunity came out of the blue?

Yeah. I had just been named assistant at Dakota Wesleyan, so I wasn’t looking around for another job. The (USD) coaches had been looking for someone to fill that role, and my name came up somehow. Forty-eight hours later, I was offered the job and I took it. It wasn’t a formal process.

What is your impression of Amy Williams?

She’s awesome. I honestly have never heard a bad thing about coach Williams in my life. Every player and coach would tell you that. She’s just the best. She does the right things the right way for the right reasons. I’m excited to learn from her, and coach (Chuck) Love and all the coaches.

What is your impression of the program she’s built?

When I was in high school and in college, you always heard about South Dakota State, and they were the go-team in South Dakota. Especially in Division I. USD was just transitioning, but now she’s brought them to the top of the Summit League, and obviously recruiting great players has a lot to do with that. It’s great what they’ve been able to do.

What will your duties at USD entail?

I haven’t had an official meeting with her (Williams), but I imagine it’ll be a lot of the logistical stuff, the travel, coordinating flights and buses. I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I think at some point this week we’ll go over that. A lot of that is things I did at Dakota Wesleyan, so at least it won’t be totally new to me.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m just excited to be in the program and learn from Amy and the other coaches, and see how they do things in comparison to other places.

It just so happens that in your first season, Dakota Wesleyan will play USD in Vermillion (on Dec. 17). Any extra anticipation for that game?

(Laughs) Honestly, I’m anxious to see what they (DWU) can do. It’ll probably be the first time I’ll get to see those girls this season and they’re all close to my heart. I am looking forward to seeing them, that’s for sure. And I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll be more looking forward to playing against me than I will be for USD to face them.

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Trevor Bouma healthy & ready to carry the load

BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

Trevor Bouma at Wednesday's USD football media day. (James D. Cimburek/P&D)

Trevor Bouma at Wednesday’s USD football media day. (James D. Cimburek/P&D)

VERMILLION – Trevor Bouma was once part of a “Bash Brothers” tandem.

It was an appropriate label given his physical, downhill nature, but it also led to him getting bashed quite a bit.

Bouma, now a junior running back at the University of South Dakota, says he is fully healed from yet another injury that has prevented him from playing a full season.

“I feel good right now; feel a hundred percent,” the LeMars, Iowa, native said Wednesday during USD’s media day gathering. “I’m a year older and I think I’ll be a year smarter on the field.”

When he’s been healthy (and even times when he’s been banged up), Bouma has been an effective ball carrier for the Coyotes.

As a redshirt freshman in 2013, he played in 11 games and rushed for 781 yards with three touchdowns. A shoulder injury then kept him out of the season finale.

And last season, he ran for 508 yards and three touchdowns in seven games, but missed the final five with a broken arm – Bouma was still the team’s second-leading rusher.

As the injuries have mounted, there could have been an understandable temptation to change his style; away from being a bruiser and into more of a finesse runner. Bouma, though, said he’s sticking with the style that brought him to Vermillion.

“I’ve stuck with it, but it’s just about being smarter,” he said. “This is the Missouri Valley, you can’t just run through everybody.

“You have to learn where to take the hits and where to lower your shoulder.”

Those lessons will be put to use early and often with Bouma now the unquestioned No. 1 running back for the Coyotes. Jasper Sanders graduated and Jordan Roberts transferred to St. Thomas (Minnesota), and Bouma will be backed up by sophomore Khorey Kilgore and most likely at least one of the freshmen USD recruited.

Running back has not been the only position derailed by injuries over the last few seasons for the Coyotes, and to be fair, USD is far from the only school that has suffered injuries to key players. Yet it’s been a constant topic.

“It’s been tough, but everyone has injuries. But it can’t be an excuse we use this year,” Bouma said. “I think a lot of that has been done with preparation this off-season.”

From workouts geared to mobility, strength and speed, the Coyotes feel as though those small things could lead to larger progress in 2015, Bouma said.

“Day by day, you have to focus on the little tasks,” he said. “We can’t think about making the playoffs or winning conference championships, we’ve got to think about the next day at camp.”

Put another way, progress may come slow for the Coyotes, but any step forward would be a welcome sight.

“Any progress is good, obviously, but we’re out here to win games,” Bouma said. “And win as many as possible.

“Every time we step on the field, that’s what we want.”

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