One week into training camp and Eastern Michigan football coach Chris Creighton and the Eagles have hit the ground running, learning new schemes and improving daily.
With one practice with full pads, it’s challenging to get an idea of how the team will perform once the season starts. Creighton sees promise coming from the freshman class but they have a ways to go, but the incoming class provides depth for the squad.
“The depth of our team is definitely better,” he said. “There’s some guys who you can see have some real talent. It’s just a matter of, if we say [go] left and they go right, it doesn’t matter how talented they are.”
A few transfer players have also made their way to Ypsilanti to fight for a starting spot. Luke McLean, a defensive lineman from Pittsburgh, as well as Cody Tuttle and Sam Browning, both tight ends who transferred from California, are looking to make an impact.
Having lost four offensive lineman in the off-season, EMU needed to recruit heavily to try and replace the holes left in the offensive line.
Creighton looked to bolster the offensive line with experienced players through transfers, but found a diamond in the rough already on the roster in tight-end turned lineman Cole Gardner.
“We worked hard to find the right fit to come in,” he said. “That never panned out and then we realized that maybe one of the best tackles in America is on our football team.”
Gardner, a red-shirt junior, will make the change from tight-end to offensive tackle this season and put on 25 pounds to prepare for the position.
Although there is more depth at other positions than in past years. At defensive back, there’s a total of five upperclassmen, two of them seniors. At wide receiver, nine out of the 14 receivers on the roster are considered freshmen on the field.
The Eagles have a surplus at running back with Darius Jackson, Juwan Lewis, Shaq Vann and Ian Eriksen all active going into the season.
Red-shirted freshman Blake Banham, plays as a running back, but will also line-up as a slot receiver for this season.
“He’s playing both running back and slot,” said Creighton. “He’s really tearing it up right now.”
With one week of fall camp complete, there are only a few more weeks until the home opener against Old Dominion on Sept. 5 at 3 p.m., which will be broadcast on ESPN3.