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UND football fall camp Day 7: Brady Stevens impressing in early practices

A former walk-on, Stevens enters the 2022 season as the starting kicker after filling in for an injured Adam Stage in 2021.

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UND head football coach Bubba Schweigert, top, talks to his players after the first fall practice of the season at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — UND's kicking game was a mystery in 2021 after starter Adam Stage went down with an injury after the early North Dakota State matchup.

With Stage transferring to Northwestern in the offseason and the program's top kicker recruit flipping at the last minute for Kansas State, the focus turned to Brady Stevens, who filled in for Stage and has handled kickoffs the past two seasons.

Stevens put together a decent season in 2021 going 19-for-19 on extra points and 5-for-10 on field goals with a long of 41 at South Dakota.

At practice on Wednesday at the Pollard Center, Stevens drilled one through the uprights from 51 yards out during 11-on-11 work.

More UND football news
The Fighting Hawks improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference by putting up 515 yards of total offense against Missouri State.

The kick marked a theme through fall camp of Stevens' impressive boots.

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Stevens, who came to UND after walking on at Colorado, entered his time in Grand Forks without as much power as previous UND kickers.

However, UND coach Shawn Kostich raves about Stevens' work ethic and has seen marked improvements in his game.

UND also added a raw but talented backup in C.J. Elrichs from Olathe, Kan.

Elrichs has a powerful leg but lacks some technique. Early indications are positive as a potential kickoff option, despite Stevens' strong performance in that spot.

One of the big question marks for UND's specialists will be at long snapper.

Kostich has been at UND for eight seasons and has had two long snappers (Jacob Holmen and Ross Hinders).

True freshman David Neuberger is the likely long snapper this season. UND continues to train linebacker Dylan Boecker, as well.

At punter, UND returns super senior Cade Peterson. True freshman Luke Silvernale of Grand Rapids, Mich., has shown a powerful leg, as well.

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Day 7 notes

The scene: UND, in shorts, split practice between the Pollard Center and outdoors at Memorial Stadium from 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Play of the day: Trey Feeney connected in the end zone with Red Wilson on a ball Wilson had to leap over defenders to catch during red-zone work outdoors.

Looking good: True freshman tight end Haydn Stay broke free on a wheel route in red-zone work and caught a touchdown pass from Simon Romfo.

Other notes

  • 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman left tackle Sam Hagen, a Park River, N.D. native, has started to take some reps with the No. 1 offense. Hagen, who missed spring ball with an injury, is gaining valuable experience this fall and is expected to contribute in 2022. The big question is whether he's ready by Week 1, Week 6 or Week 9.
  • Isaiah Smith, battling for the No. 1 running back job, showcased his value in the passing game with a number of nice catches.
  • Starting tight end Adam Zavalney had a nice practice with a handful of catches over the middle.
  • Tommy Schuster connected with Garett Maag on a lob pass in the end zone during red-zone work outdoors to end practice.
  • Red Wilson, the 5-foot-9 Mesabi Range transfer, worked all over the offensive formation. It's already clear the Hawks are experimenting with how many unique ways they can get him involved.
  • Josh Navratil, Aaron Cooper, Wyatt Pedigo, Antonio Bluiett and Jamal Dixon each made plays defensively.
  • UND has struggled a bit at quarterback-center shotgun snap exchanges. That's fairly typical of a fall camp setting, although it's especially concerning this fall with no experience returning at the position.
Related Topics: UND FOOTBALLUND SPORTS
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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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