The UND football team's two starting cornerbacks are basically set in stone, with fifth year senior Evan Holm and his 31 career games played, as well as redshirt sophomore C.J. Siegel who is coming off a season in which he was a Phil Steele Freshman All-American.
But perhaps nobody's stock has risen more during UND football camp at the High Performance center this month than sophomore Caleb Nelson, who had another interception Friday morning to go along with a steady stream of daily standout plays.
Nelson was a highly sought recruit out of California. The brother of former UND safety Lenny Nelson, Caleb held scholarship offers from Sacramento State, Eastern Washington, Howard and San Jose State.
He played in nine games in 2019, and his production was a bit of a roller coaster. However, Nelson was a bit behind schedule in his learning of the defense as he missed the first 12 practices of fall camp in 2019 awaiting eligibility clearance from the NCAA.
Nelson's emergence confirms UND's belief that it has a deep group of corners, which also includes redshirt freshman Sammy Fort who maintained his redshirt in 2019 after playing in four games, and rookie Richard Agyekum, who had been offered by Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers and Cincinnati.
True freshman cornerback Sam Robertson has been sidelined during the last stretch of practices with an injury, while Fargo Shanley product and cornerback Haley Bucholz was back at practice Friday after missing some time with an injury.
Here are the details from Day 7:
The scene: UND practiced in full pads Friday, going through drills from 7:30 a.m. to about 9:15 a.m. at the High Performance Center.
Participation note: Safety Jordan Canady returned to practice for the first time in a while Friday, while cornerback Sam Robertson and wide receiver Elijah Klein remain out.
Play of the day: During skelly work, quarterback Quincy Vaughn hit Garett Maag on a perfect touch pass for a big gain.
Looking good: Mikey Griebel had a nice practice Friday, making difficult catches on a number of plays. During skelly, Griebel went sliding to the turf to catch a ball in the soft spot of a few defenders.
Needs work: UND's run blocking Friday saw a few plays blown up, including strong defensive plays by starting defensive end Jaelen Johnson, transfer inside linebacker Devon Krzanowski and rookie from Omaha Kason Kelley.
Day 5 notes
- One development Friday was UND's targeting of Minnesota State-Moorhead transfer Jake Richter, who was used on a handful of bubble screens. Richter has impressed at camp, showcasing his strength, body control and effort.
- Dalton Gee flashed one of his strengths a few times Friday. Gee, a candidate to start at running back with the graduation of James Johannesson, has shown to be a reliable pass catcher. During skelly, Gee made one catch on the sideline that was both a tough grab for his hands and a balancing act with his feet.
- All four of UND's kickers saw work on 30-plus-yarders during practice. It looked as though St. Cloud State transfer Adam Stage was 3-for-4, returning starter Brady Leach was 3-for-4, Brady Stevens was 3-for-4 and newcomer Sean Fenelon was 1-for-4.
- Stevens was the only kicker to attempt a pressure kick in which he was surrounded by his yelling teammates. He missed wide left.
- Grand Forks native Tyler Burian made one of his better plays of camp with a tough catch on a slant pass from Tommy Schuster in team drills.
- Wide receiver Jacob Odom, a former cornerback who has battled injuries to get opportunities on offense, saw lots of daylight on one bubble screen, a play that may fit his strengths.