After nearly a month of practices, the University of South Dakota football team has named its captains for the 2014 season.
I always find these announcements interesting because it’s not some pundit telling you who the leaders of a particular team will, or should, be. This comes straight from the team. These are the guys that the players feel best represent them and everything they are collectively working toward.
With that said, I wanted to share some of the things that likely contributed to each of the following four players being selected.
After recording 749 all-purpose yards in 2012, Jasper Sanders missed all of last season with a wrist injury. The good news is it looks like the Kansas City native used the time off to become a more well-rounded football player.
Sanders, who’s used his improved speed and athleticism to dazzle his fellow Coyotes throughout the preseason, opens up a ton of options for Offensive Coordinator Wesley Beschorner.
Whether it’s at running back, wide receiver, or kick returner, the Coyotes will find ways to get him the football.
Sanders is listed as the team’s top kick and punt returner, along with being slotted third on the depth chart at running back.
After taking over the starting job about a quarter of the way through last season, Kevin Earl quickly asserted himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. He completed 52 percent of his passes for 1,920 yards and nine touchdowns over the final nine games. He also ran for 227 yards and three scores.
As he now prepares for his first full season as the starter, it’s clear that this is Earl’s team. He’s drawn rave reviews from his coaches and teammates throughout fall camp for his maturation as a quarterback and leader.
With all of that considered, plus the weapons he will have at his disposal, it’s reasonable to have high expectations for Earl’s junior season.
With Tyler Starr out of the picture, the burden of leading the Coyotes 3-4 defense will fall on a couple of guys. Keyen Lage is one of them. And if the last two seasons are any indication, he will handle that responsibility just fine.
Lage has displayed true play-making ability since the time he stepped on the field as a true freshman, and his numbers reflect that. The Sioux Falls Washington product already has 100 tackles – including 16 for loss – and six sacks to his credit.
He did miss several practices during fall camp (ankle), but will be ready to go for Saturday’s season opener at Oregon.
Iddings has always had size, but following a tremendous offseason the former state champion high jumper is looks bigger – he’s listed at 6-6, 283 lbs – and is moving quicker.
Iddings, a preseason All-MVFC selection, finished seventh on the team in tackles (51) and fifth in tackles for loss (9.0) in 2013, while adding 2.5 sacks. All of those numbers should increase in 2014.