Idaho begins spring football practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and if you know Idaho coach Paul Petrino at all, you'll know that there will be competition.
Where exactly? Well, everywhere.
Paul Petrino had these things to say about the competitions taking place over the next four weeks.
Would be an Idaho spring practice without a quarterback battle? Idaho hasn't entered a spring practice without 100-percent knowing who its quarterback is since 2010, and this year is no different. Redshirt sophomore Matt Linehan opens as the starter, having started eight games last season, but redshirt freshman Jake Luton will be given every opportunity to dethrone him. The scrimmages and spring game will play a large part in who enters the fall as the No. 1. Though, the decision likely won't be made until the week leading up to the Sep. 3 opener.
Welcome back, Dezmon Epps. Epps was dismissed from the program prior to the 2014 season following a theft incident at the Moscow WinCo. He's earned his way back on to the team and looks to be the team's No. 1 option following the departure of senior Josh McCain.
"He just had to keep his nose clean and stay out of trouble and do things right. He’s done that, he just needs to continue to do that. He’s always been a hard worker, he’s always been one of the hardest workers at practice. We put a whole line of parameters of things he had to do and he’s done them all so far," Petrino said.
Other names Petrino said to watch out for included RS So. Rueben Mwehla, So. David Ungerer, Jacob Sannon and senior Jermaine Johnson.
Junior Steven Matlock has stepped up in a leadership role over the winter, Petrino said, and looks to take over the starting center spot. Jordan Rose and Dallas Sandberg will slot in at the guard spots next to him. Mason Woods looks to have the starting strong tackle spot, Petrino said. So it's just a battle for the fifth offensive line spot. Devin Wintz, Andrew Erbes, Kato Fawkes and Calvin White were the first names Petrino mentioned to battle for that spot.
"You’ll see different lineups with some guys playing at guard and some guys playing at tackle, we just have to find who that fifth best starter is and see where it fits," Petrino said.
This unit will unquestionably be led by Quinton Bradley. Petrino has long lauded the talent and athleticism Bradley possession, even saying once that Bradley has more than enough potential to be playing football long past his collegiate eligibility.
"The position he plays and what he’s running right now, the lifts he’s throwing up, he’s got it all, he just has to go out and do it right now. He couldn’t be bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic than he is right now," Petrino said.
Bradley will be joined by Zach Cable and Glen Antoine coming off of injury-induced redshirts as well as Kevin Shelton and Tueni Lupeamanu on the inside.
Though Petrino says interior lineman Ryan Edwards is the strongest player on the team, as well as one of the most improved.
This porous unit was in much need of a makeover. So Petrino brought in three junior college cornerbacks to compete with Jayshawn Jordan and Dorian Clark for starting positions. DJ Hampton, Isaiah Taylor and Kendrick Taylor will all be counted on to push for starting positions.
Jordan Frysinger moved from offense to defense and will compete with Jordan Grabski, Russell Siavii and Desmond Banks for starting safety spots.
- Chris Edwards, who led Idaho in interceptions last season before leaving the program, has returned and will make a move to linebacker. Petrino said Edwards approached him about returning to the program and that he was open to giving Edwards a second chance. Petrino approached Edwards about a move to linebacker, because the Vandals wanted more speed on that level of the defense.
- True freshman Kaden Elliss will start out at Will linebacker, the same position as senior Marc Millan. "A guy that everyone around here is going to know his name for many years to come is Kaden Ellis. If he can look out there in pads like he looks in the weight room he’s going to be a big time star for many years to come. He’s powerful, can bend and change directions," Petrino said.
- Petrino confirmed that former WSU DC Mike Breske will assume the defensive coordinator position at Idaho, but not yet. Breske will only be a volunteer at Idaho this spring.
- Petrino addressed Richard Montgomery's departure from the program. "It was just something where I didn’t feel he was doing the things that I wanted him to do. I talked to him a couple different times."
The first scrimmage is March 28 at 10 a.m. Expect depth chart movement after that.