UND football fall camp Day 4: Safeties lack experience but not play-making ability

The Fighting Hawks will have to replace 2021 starters Hayden Galvin and Jordan Canady at safety in 2022. Galvin and Canady started at safety for UND for three years.

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Malachi Buckner, a defensive back transfer from Gardner-Webb University, gets into position during the first day of UND fall football practice at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — The UND defense will have to replace three-year starters at safety in 2022 after the graduation of Hayden Galvin and Jordan Canady.

But the Fighting Hawks, who went through fall camp Day 4 on Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium, feel better about the safety situation than one might expect.

The depth chart starts with three safeties from within the program who have put in their dues with Kadon Kauppinen, Sammy Fort and Jayson Coley.

There's reason to believe UND fans can expect a jump in ability from Kauppinen and Fort this season.

Kauppinen, one of the team's vocal leaders, played much of last season with an injury that even the staff didn't know the severity of until after the fact.


Fort, meanwhile, didn't transition from cornerback to safety until a few days into 2021 fall camp.

With the amount of learning that's needed at safety, Fort was thrown a lot of information quickly. He's more comfortable in the secondary to start the 2022 fall camp.

The x-factor in the group is Gardner-Webb transfer safety Malachi Buckner, who had five interceptions last season en route to all-Big South first team honors.

Buckner, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, has started fall camp at the bottom of the depth chart, as a nod toward earning playing time rather than it being given.

Buckner will certainly start taking more reps with those higher on the depth chart in the coming weeks. His athleticism and natural play-making skills have been evident through four days of camp.

Day 4 notes

The scene: The team practiced in pads for the second day in a row from 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Temperatures were cool in the upper 50's.

Play of the day: Clayton Bishop intercepted a pass that bounced off the hands of wide receiver Nate Demontagnac from Trey Feeney.

Looking good: Caden Dennis might have an argument for play of the day, as he caught a long bomb in stride late in practice from Simon Romfo. Dennis, a true freshman speedy wide receiver, caught three passes late in 11-on-11 work.


Quick hitters

  • Running back Luke Skokna was active in passing situations during early drills but was banged up and sat out much of the day.
  • UND starting left tackle Donny Ventrelli was dominant during 1-on-1 drills with defensive linemen.
  • True freshman defensive end Kendis Ledbetter, a Sioux Falls product, had impressive moments in 1-on-1 drills with the offensive line. Ledbetter is put together at 6-foot-3 and already 270 pounds.
  • Both Tommy Schuster and Quincy Vaughn had success in 11-on-11 work finding wide receiver Bo Belquist.
  • Jack Wright had one of the best catches of the day when he went up over the top of C.J. Siegel to grab a pass from Simon Romfo.
  • Elijah Klein and Red Wilson continued to make plays, as has been the theme of fall camp.
  • Wyatt Pedigo, Luke Lennon and Tommy Kimball, a junior walk-on from Duluth, all made standout defensive plays during team drills.
  • Tyler Burian and Nick Kupfer had catches in team drills from well-placed balls by Trey Feeney.
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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