The latest news and notes from South Dakota State football:
The Jackrabbits will hold their second and final scrimmage of fall camp Saturday night. However, it’s pretty likely a fair number of starters won’t play in order to stay healthy and to get extra reps for developing guys. That’s one reason the first scrimmage was described as sloppy by coach John Stiegelmeier.
On Wednesday, SDSU began implementing with half the team ideas for the season opener against Butler. Today, the scout team will make its debut and depth charts will become more relevant.
The true freshman making the most serious push to play: linebacker Jesse Bobbitt. It’s about a 95-percent certainty.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder from Palatine, Ill., was a four-time all-conference pick in high school and a first-team all-state player as a senior. Remind you of anybody else on the roster? T.J. Lally was also a first-team all-state linebacker in Illinois and gained consideration to play as a true frosh. But the staff held off, and as a redshirt freshman Lally made 107 tackles and was up for the Jerry Rice Award.
The Jacks are losing a linebacker, too: Junior Robbie Jelsma is hanging up his cleats, according to defensive coordinator Clint Brown. Injuries were a big part of that.
He suffered a season-ending knee injury last year and dinged it again this fall during practice, precipitating a slide down the depth chart. Still, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder from Springfield - who began his career at USD – would have been a regular on special teams. He made 14 tackles in nine games last season after making nine stops in 10 games as a redshirt freshman.
Jelsma is expected to remain in school.
The winner of the annual burger eating contest (fastest to five wins): Freshman tight end Stacy Keely. Unofficially, it’s one of the bigger upsets in the history of the event as Keely is arguably the skinniest guy on the team at 6-8, 205 pounds. He’s also a two-time Nebraska state champ in the high jump.
With Eric Kline transferring to Minnesota-Duluth (and competing to start there), redshirt freshman Nate Meyer looks to be the back-up quarterback to junior Austin Sumner. The 6-3, 205-pounder drew positive reviews last year for his work with the scout team. As for where he’s at this year?
"Nate anticipates things very well for a young guy," offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness said. "The arm strength he has is solid, and it’s just understanding the whole grasp of the offense and being able to open the playbook up and running what he’s capable of running when he’s in there."
To that end, there would be some plays for Meyer - and probable No. 3 Tyler Finnes - that the team would not run with Sumner.
Stiegelmeier is as pleased with the kickers and punter as any group in camp. Justin Syrovatka is coming off an all-conference type season yet is getting pushed by Jay Carlson for kicking and kick-off duties, while Ethan Sawyer has taken a step forward heading into his second season as a starter.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.