There won t be as many true freshmen playing this year for the University of Toledo as last year, but there will be some. Last season 12 players burned their redshirt. Coach Tom Amstutz said he saw three players make a tackle in the Iowa State game and he needed a roster to know who they were.
This year, a handful will see time. Safety Drey Lon Pree will play on special teams. Brett Brodbeck will kick. Rogers alum and walk-on Myshan Pettis, a running back in high school, is now a DB and will play in a backup role.
Throughout camp the Rockets have been trying to figure out who their third running back behind Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins will be. It might be freshman Adonis Thomas. After waiting for clearance from the NCAA, Thomas, from Newark, N.J., is back at practice and was taking handoffs with the second team Tuesday. Amstutz didn t think Thomas would play Saturday but believes he will play soon.
On Tuesday morning I talked with Mike Gottfried, who will be the color analyst on the broadcast Saturday on ESPN U. He said he called some Purdue games last year and was extremely impressed with Dorien Bryant s ability as a kickoff returner. Bryant's longest return last year was 48 yards. With the tees moving five yards back, this could be a game-changer. Brett Brodbeck will surely have specific instructions to avoid Bryant, but in his first collegiate game who knows what will be going through his mind.
Having said that, I ve spent some time on the sidelines with Brodbeck and the rest of the kickers during practice (they re usually playing catch with a football or tennis ball and I m trying not to get hit, although I did Tuesday (but not by them)). Brett definitely gets it, which is why Amstutz has confidence in him to kick off.
Bryant will also return punts, which he hasn t done in a while but with his speed could also be scary. Brett Kern is on top of it. Here s a feature on Kern from his hometown paper.
For the Rockets, Nick Moore will return punts.