UND looking at pulling a redshirt on freshman linebacker
When the UND football team opened practice Saturday at Memorial Stadium, with less than three weeks to go to the season opener at Utah, a lot of familiar names were out on defense in what was primarily the starting rotation.
One of those players, however, has never played a down of college football.
Noah Larson, a true freshman inside linebacker, was running through drills with the top defensive unit.
In a rarity at UND and college football as a whole, the Fighting Hawks are looking at pulling a redshirt on a linebacker.
Most redshirts are pulled at positions like wide receiver, running back and cornerback. At a position like linebacker, a true freshman doesn’t usually have enough bulk to compete at the Division I level.
“We want to get a good sample to know what he can do,” UND defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt said. “He’s handled it pretty well. Our first week is pretty heavy mentally with install. It’s all in now so it’s a matter of getting reps. He’s done a really good job up to this point.”
Larson is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds out of Baraboo, Wis. His father, Scott, played running back at UND from 1987-90, a time when now head coach Bubba Schweigert was on the UND coaching staff.
Noah played running back at Baraboo, finishing his senior season with 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.
In the opening game of the season, Larson ran for a career-high 423 yards and four touchdowns -- a popping stat that had UND coaches a little nervous about the ability to keep Larson under the radar.
Larson was also an accomplished swimmer in high school, winning two state titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
In track, he was a state qualifier in the 100, triple jump and shot put -- an impressive range of events for a football prospect.
“When we recruited him, we knew he was one to look at right away because his body is college ready,” Schmidt said.
In the coming week or two, UND will need to determine whether it pulls the redshirt on Larson.
“We’re getting closer there,” Schmidt said. “It’s something you want to make sure about before you talk in those terms but he’s definitely one of the guys right now that after the first week is proving that he can probably help the team.”
Schmidt said Larson’s strengths are his natural ability.
“When you watch him play, sometimes you can’t describe it, it’s just what it’s supposed to look like,” Schmidt said. “At this point in his career, you don’t want to over-coach him. He finds the football and is a natural shuffler. He has the instincts.”