Early Peek At The 2023 Depth Chart
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Everyone in the house is asleep. My brain is still on Central time, so I'm awake. Gonna try to squeeze in an article real quick before everyone wakes up.
I'm currently in Idaho visiting my son and his wife. Bye Week 1 aligned with a wedding we were attending in Kansas City, and Bye Week 2 aligned with my son's birthday (appreciate them aligning the schedule to fit my event calendar). So with Tyler covering both the Arkansas State game and the Marquette game, here I am up in the Sawtooth Mountains.
I hear people stirring so I'd better get right to it. Every year during the bye week I take a peek at the depth chart for the next year. And when there's two bye weeks, I look at the next two depth charts. Last month, during our first bye week, I went through the 2022 Depth Chart. Today we'll look at 2023.
And let's start here: it gets even more impossible every year to project the depth chart. Especially two years down the road. On that 2022 depth chart from October, I filled out ten spots with the word "TRANSFER" because at least 10 spots will be filled by an offseason transfer this year. For a 2023 depth chart, do I need to fill out 20 spots with "TRANSFER"? That seems kind of pointless.
So here's what I'll do. I'll only go two-deep instead of three-deep. And I'll only list players we know from the current roster. So this will just be sophomores, freshmen, and 2022 recruits. It's certainly not the actual depth chart for the Toledo game on September 2, 2023. There will be at least 15 transfers in the two-deep (from this coming offseason plus the next offseason) and maybe even some freshmen in the 2023 recruiting class who break into the two-deep immediately.
But I still think this is a useful exercise. Here's where the roster stands going into that season. And for the sake of consistency, I'll assume that every player in the 2022 class redshirts (they won't) so I can list all of them as redshirt freshmen.
One final disclaimer. As soon as you start reading this you're going to be all "come on, Robert - Art Sitkowski is not going to be the quarterback in 2023". And I'll respond with "probably not, but as of right now, with the players we know, Art Sitkowski is the most likely quarterback for 2023". And then you're going to say "Chase Brown will be gone to the NFL before the 2023 season". And I'll say "probably, but as of right now, with the players we know so far, Chase Brown is the most likely tailback for 2023".
To the two-deep.
QB | Sitkowski (SR) | Leary (rs-FR)
RB | C. Brown (SR) | McCray (JR)
TE1 | Reiman (JR) | Boyer (rs-FR)
TE2 | Anderson (rs-FR) | Moore (JR)
LT | Barlev (rs-SO) | Whitenack (rs-FR)
LG | Okla (rs-FR) | Wisecarver (rs-SO)
C | Kreutz (rs-SO) | Plohr (JR)
RG | Slaughter (SR) | Gesky (rs-SO)
RT | Pearl (SR) | Okpala (JR)
WR | Williams (JR) | Sandy (SR)
WR | C. Washington (SR) | Spann (JR)
WR | Bryant (JR) | Miller (rs-FR)
ROLB | Coleman (JR) | Badie (rs-FR)
DL | Randolph (JR) | McConnell (rs-SO)
DL| Newton (JR) | V. Brown (SR)
LOLB | Bryant (JR) | Holmes (SR)
MLB | T. Barnes (SR) | Darkangelo (SR)
WLB | Hart (SR) | Rosiek (rs-SO)
CB | Witherspoon (SR) | E. Smith (SR)
CB | Nicholson (JR) | Strain (JR)
STAR | Edwards (rs-SO) | Snyder (rs-SO)
S | Curry (rs-SO) | Green (rs-SO)
S | J. Washington (rs-SO) | T. Griffin (rs-FR)
Kicker | C. Griffin (SR)
Punter | Robertson (rs-SO)
Longsnapper | Hall (rs-JR)
Punt Return | Sandy (SR)
KO Return | Sandy (SR)
One more time: this is a very early estimate. At least 15 players will transfer in over the next 30 months and be added to this depth chart. Several of the players listed above will transfer out. I'm listing players I've never seen as starters (Virginia Tech transfer Alec Bryant), I'm filling out positions with an entire roster of names from one recruiting class (2021 defensive backs), and I'm making the assumption that every current redshirt sophomore who could play two more seasons (a 5th and 6th year) will play that 5th and 6th year.
But this does give us a great peek into depth at certain positions. Pretty much everyone is awake now so I need to wrap this up. Let's jump from position to position and I'll give you some general thoughts:
- Quarterback is a concern (as you might have heard). But there will be at least two transfers coming in. Perhaps three in the next 30 months. (I still want Deuce Spann to go back to quarterback but that's just just me and my fanboy ways.)
- Running Back seems to be perfectly fine. Chase Brown might still be here (and he might leave for the NFL draft after his brother, who has never used a redshirt and is year ahead of him, graduates after 2022). But then there's Josh McCray, Reggie Love, Jordan Anderson (and Aidan Laughery, who might be a running back but my go over to defense) coming in - feels like we're mostly set there.
- Tight End is pretty thin. I expect at least one transfer there. Ford and Barker will be gone so that leaves Tip Reiman and several unknowns.
- Wide Receiver is, to me, shockingly deep. Who knows if everyone will play out their 5th and 6th seasons, but just looking at eligibility, Casey Washington and Carlos Sandy will be seniors, Isaiah Williams, Deuce Spann, and Pat Bryant will be juniors, and recruits in the 2022 class (Shawn Miller, Eian Pugh) will be entering their second season.
- Offensive Line is pretty much an unknown but maybe kinda sorta OK? With lots of snaps for true freshmen Josh Kreutz and Zach Barlev this season, I'm putting them as starters in 2023. And then add Jordyn Slaughter back in (out this entire season with a broken ankle) and you have seniors Julian Pearl and Jordyn Slaughter on the right side. So that just leaves one spot open, which I'm giving to 2022 recruit Joey Okla. But, again, the transfers are coming.
- Defensive Line seems fairly straightforward as far as the starters go. Three freshmen who have started many games this season (Seth Coleman, Jer'Zhan Newton, and Keith Randolph) stay in the starting lineup as juniors. And then I'm adding in Virginia Tech transfer Alec Bryant.
- Linebacker still feels strong. Khalan Tolson will have just graduated after 2022, but you have Tarique Barnes and Calvin Hart for one more year. And Isaac Darkangelo has been getting more and more backup MLB snaps this season (and he's only a sophomore). So he'll still be around in 2023.
- Defensive Backs is where it all falls apart. Spoon and then who-the-hell-knows. The Three Musketeers (Quan Martin, Sydney Brown, and Kerby Joseph) all return for one more year in 2022, but in 2023, if you look at the 10 spots in the defensive backfield on that two-deep, Spoon as one of the CB starters is the only one I feel certain about. Nine spots where we really don't know anything besides "Taz Nicholson has played a fair bit as a backup corner this year". At least... four transfers here?
OK, breakfast is being made. Gotta end this article.
The bacon is calling and I must go.