At the request of a commenter yesterday I am going to take a look at the redshirt freshmen on this year's roster. In the words of another commenter, these are the players we may have forgotten about from the class of 2011, but they enter this year with a leg up on their 2012 counterparts because of a year of practice and weight room work. It is highly likely that a few of these guys are going to end up being major contributors before the end of the season, and they should.
I always like redshirt freshmen because they show patience. It takes a lot of patience to agree to sit out an entire season when you've been busting your ass to earn a Division I scholarship. The best players come tearing out of that year and make a major impact like Kawann Short did in 2009.
Robert Kugler - Offensive Center - Kugler is going to be on the field sooner rather than later. The son of the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was originally thought that Kugler was going to be a defensive end or tight end. This spring he moved to center and he's been on the two-deeps ever since. He has bulked up to 6'3" 280 pounds, and with another 20 pounds or so he could be a fixture on the line for years to come.
Dolapo Macarthy - Wide Receiver - Macarthy is an X-factor player that does not have a true position. His HS team played him at quarterback under the Antwaan Randle El corollary of, "The most athletic player by far on the team needs the ball in his hands on every play (Something Cam Cameron was too stupid to do for part of 2001)." He had some issues qualifying academically, thus he was not highly recruited. He even did a year of prep school. He's a huge receiver at 6'5" 220 pounds and was one of the most dangerous players in the state of Indiana at Merrillville High School. He seems to be a second-teamer on offense, but I think he could work himself into a very interesting role, especially since we need big, strong receivers.
Sam McCartney - Kicker - He's technically not on scholarship, but he is battling Paul Griggs hard to be the starting kicker. As mentioned yesterday, he is the walk-on townie kicker that was part of a Class 3A state championship team in 2009 for West Lafayette HS. He was 3 for 3 on extra points and hit a 24 yard FG in the 24-10 win over Evansville Memorial at Lucas Oil Stadium. GBI did a feature on him today talking about his work ethic:
"I remember him telling me the first workout 'We're here to get big, we're here to get strong, we're not here to just show up,'" McCartney recalled. "I came into a situation where Cody Webster, Kevin Ballinger, Jesse Schmitt, Carson, they all bought into the weight program and I was just the next guy in there. I was just busting my butt just like they were."
Austin Parker - Quarterback - Even though there are a ton of QBs on the roster, Parker will like be the No. 4 guy depending on the point in the season. If we want to save the redshirt for Austin Appleby and everyone else Parker would be immediately behind Robert Marve, Rob Henry, and Caleb TerBush. I don't expect him to play.
Michael Rouse III - Defensive Tackle - Rouse is a space-eater at 6'4" 305 pounds, but he is behind Brandon Taylor, Bruce Gaston, and Kawann Short at his position. He'll likely be in the rotation and play at least a handful of plays per game depending on fatigue of those in front of him.
Shane Mikesky - Wide Receiver - Having covered Shane for the Zionsville paper I can see where he could be an asset for the passing game. Zionsville's passing game when he was there mostly consisted of long jump ball passes to him. He is a three-time state track champion in the 110-meter hurdles and caught 39 passes for 760 yards and 10 touchdowns against one of the toughest conference in the state as a senior. I have no problem with sending him deep and lobbing one his way once per game.
Armstead Williams - Linebacker - Williams seems to be one of the hybrid guys when we alternate between 3-4 and 4-3, much like Robert Maci. He can be Linebacker Gigante at 6'3" 223, but he can also put his hand in the dirt and get to the QB.
Frankie Williams - Defensive Back - Williams seems to have earned high praise as a potential nickel back and third corner behind Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson. The concern for him is Normondo Harris and Antoine Lewis, who both have more on the field experience. He was a player that learned a lot admittedly in the redshirt year:
"It was frustrating, but I didn't want to come in and play in the middle of the season," the defensive back said. "I want my full tour of games."
That is it for the redshirt freshmen. The class of 2011 was a smaller class because of the outgoing seniors that year, and some of them like Akeem Hunt, Brandon Cottom, Raheem Mostert, and Taylor Richards saw early playing time. Doug Gentry was also a transfer casualty. That leaves a small group that will make their debut this year, but as you can see, each is expected to have some sort of an impact.