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UND FOOTBALL: Making an early impression

There is no doubt that junior Mitch Sutton will be the starting tailback for UND when the Sioux open the season Thursday night against Drake. Sutton, the 2009 Great West Conference rookie of the year, is projected to be UND's go-to back.

University of North Dakota running back Mitch Sutton
Mitch Sutton leaps over a tackler during a third quarter run UND's 31-6 win over Lamar last season. Herald photo by John Stennes.

There is no doubt that junior Mitch Sutton will be the starting tailback for UND when the Sioux open the season Thursday night against Drake. Sutton, the 2009 Great West Conference rookie of the year, is projected to be UND's go-to back.

And sophomore Jake Miller, who played as a true freshman, will be Sutton's backup.

The No. 3 running back on the Sioux depth chart, however, is still up in the air. But true freshman Jer Garman is making a strong case to end any doubt about the position.

"It's a battle not a lot of people are talking about," UND coach Chris Mussman said of the No. 3 tailback. "But Jer is pretty special. We think he's going to be a good player."

The final decision to play Garman, a 5-foot-9, 170-pounder, this season hasn't been made, but this week will go a long way in determining whether UND pulls his redshirt.

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"We're going to put him in some situations this week to see what he can handle mentally," Mussman said. "We'll have him on kickoff return, punt return and kickoff team."

Garman comes to UND with an impressive resume. He set 12 school records at Linn-Mar High School in Iowa. His records include career rushing yards (4,474), career points scored (312) and career touchdowns (52).

As a senior, he broke the Missouri Valley Conference single-season records for touchdowns (29) and points (174) set by former University of Iowa and Atlanta Falcons' standout Tim Dwight.

"He can make a difference for us," Mussman said. "He makes us better. And I've said all along that if a kid makes us better, he'll play (right away). He's a kid I anticipate we'll play this year."

While the battle for the No. 3 running back position has been under the radar, there is another player in UND's fall camp that has been making waves as well.

Zach Adler, a 6-3, 215-pound true freshman from Omaha, Neb., may see the field this season at tight end or fullback, a position that is a little thin due to some minor injuries.

Mussman said Adler's true position is H-back but may see time at both fullback and tight end.

"Zach hasn't been with the scout team," Mussman said. "We're trying to give him a crash course on two positions and that's tough for a freshman."

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His physical play in UND's fall camp has been noticed.

"He has a little thud to him," Mussman said. "When he hits guys, they know it."

Other UND tailbacks that have taken reps in camp include Spencer Bickel and redshirt freshman Adam Shaugabay, a former Warroad High School standout.

Catlin Solum will likely open the season as the No. 1 fullback for the Sioux.

"He's kind of an anchor guy for us," Mussman said of the senior from Fargo South.

Up next

Who: Drake at UND.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Alerus Center.

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TV/radio: FSSN, The Fox (96.1 FM).

Records: UND 3-8 last season; Drake 7-4.

Of note: UND will have 14 seniors this season, 15 juniors, 21 sophomores and 22 redshirt freshmen.

Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: UND FOOTBALL
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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