The first official depth chart for the 2016 season was unveiled today. Have a look:
|Wide Receiver||9||Byron Pringle||15||Zach Reuter||13||Steven West|
|Left Tackle||74||Scott Frantz||61||Abdul Beecham||58||Breontae Matthews|
|Left Guard||62||Tyler Mitchell||78||Bryce Fitzner||72||Evan Curl|
|Center||67||Reid Najvar||79||Adam Holtorf||71||Dalton Risner|
|Right Guard||56||Terrale Johnson||70||Will Ash||59||Jason Lierz|
|Right Tackle||71||Dalton Risner||73||Alec Ruth||76||Ajahne Brager|
|Tight End||88||Dayton Valentine||88||Blaise Gammon||38||Winston Dimel|
|Quarterback||16||Jesse Ertz||8||Joe Hubener||OR||5||Alex Delton|
|Fullback||38||Winston Dimel||39||Austin Katsorelos||30||Chase Johnston|
|Running Back||24||Charles Jones||32||Justin Silmon||3||Dalvin Warmack|
|Wide Receiver (Slot)||4||Dominique Heath||7
||Isaiah Zuber||10||Lucas Munds|
|Wide Receiver||6||Deante Burton||12||Corey Sutton||27||Tanner Langvardt|
|Defensive End||75||Jordan Willis||93||Davis Clark||17||Aulelio Olomua|
|Defensive Tackle||60||Will Geary||98||Craig Settles Jr.||OR||95||Ray Price|
|Defensive Tackle||99||Trey Dishon||92||Matt Seiwert||91||Mitch Copeland|
|Defensive End||34||Tanner Wood||OR||51||Reggie Walker||94||C.J. Reese|
|Weakside Linebacker||9||Elijah Lee||41||Sam Sizelove||57||Colborn Couchman|
|Middle Linebacker||35||Will Davis||58||Trent Tanking||32||Justin Hughes|
|Strongside Linebacker||52||Charmeachealle Moore||46||Jayd Kirby||3||Elijah Sullivan|
|Nickel Back (Cat Safety)||10||Donnie Starks||5||Jesse Mack||13||Ryan Mack|
|Cornerback||8||Duke Shelley||7||Cedric Dozier||23||Cre Moore|
|Strong Safety||22||Dante Barnett||18||Brogan Barry||36||Tevin Geddis|
|Free Safety||21||Kendall Adams||29||Sean Newlan||20||Denzel Goolsby|
|Cornerback||2||D.J. Reed||6||Johnathan Durham||4||Jordan Noil|
|WILDCAT SPECIAL TEAMS|
|Place-Kicker||16||Matthew McCrane||40||Ian Patterson||10||Blake Lynch|
|Punter||14||Nick Walsh||9||Mitch Lochbihler||22||Nick McLellan|
|Punt Returner||4||Dominique Heath||9||Byron Pringle||3||Dalvin Warmack|
|Kickoff Returner||4||Dominique Heath||9||Byron Pringle||3||Dalvin Warmack|
|Kickoff Specialist||40||Ian Patterson||16||Matthew McCrane||10||Blake Lynch|
|Holder||9||Mitch Lochbihler||14||Nick Walsh||10||Blake Lynch|
|Long Snapper||43||Drew Scott||38||Dalton Harman||45||David Tullis|
By way of analysis, I'll hit the high points for each major position grouping.
Proving the spring game hype was not misplaced, Byron Pringle appears to have supplanted Deante Burton as the team's No. 1 wide receiver. This thankfully will allow Dominique Heath to return this more natural slot position. They are backed up by Zach Reuter, Isaiah Zuber and Corey Sutton. My third-stringers have a total of four game catches.
As expected since Fan Appreciation Day, the offensive line will have five new starters since Dalton Risner will replace Matt Kleinsorge at right tackle. Stepping in for Cody Whitehair is Scott Frantz, for Boston Stiverson is Tyler Mitchell, for Risner is Reid Najvar and for Luke Hayes is Terrale Johnson. Hard for us not to take a step back.
The time of Evan Curl and Adam Holtorf (make no mistake, Risner's still the backup center) is coming, but at this point, Will Ash, Alec Ruth and especially Bryce Fitzner have to be more than a little disappointed not to be starters.
No real surprises at quarterback (we're right back where we were exactly a year ago), fullback, running back or tight end, where Dayton Valentine was the only experienced player and Winston Dimel is expected to contribute some.
The battle to replace Marquel Bryant continues, with the experienced Tanner Wood trying to fend off the athletic Reggie Walker. It will be interesting to see who starts Friday, but both will play heavily alongside Jordan Willis.
Similarly, Craig Settles Jr. and Ray Price still are duking it out to see who will enter the four-man rotation at defensive tackle. It sure is impressive, though, that freshman Trey Dishon already has beat out junior Matt Seiwert.
The top five linebackers are the same, but Sam Sizelove is now playing WILL (and Will Davis MIKE and Mike Moore SAM — huh?), switching places with Trent Tanking, and Jayd Kirby has displaced Colborn Couchman as a SAM.
The biggest shocker on the entire depth chart for me is the starting status of D.J. Reed, who climbed past experienced Cre Moore, spring starter Johnathan Durham and Cedric "This Is My Only Year to Play" Dozier.
I guess all that experience at Fresno State and Cerritos College really paid off for Reed, who I had projected as a scout teamer. Suddenly, this looks like a surprisingly deep position group, with both Macks shutting off to nickel.
Not so much at safety, though, where there is little experienced depth behind Kendall Adams, Dante Barnett, Sean Newlan and Donnie Starks. Brogan Barry's residence in the two-deep, although expected, is a little troubling.
I will be watching closely to see how quickly Denzel Goolsby and Tevin Geddis can pick things up. If we have half as many injuries as last season, our season's defensive success could swing on their development.
Boy, it sure is nice to have your kickers and punters all back, isn't it? Drew Scott won't miss a beat at long snapper, where he has played already. And while there is truly no replacing Morgan Burns (or Tyler Lockett, for that matter), Heath and Pringle should provide some excitement. Don't rule out Dalvin Warmack or Zuber as returners, either.
What are your thoughts on the first depth chart of the season? Let's get some discussion going in the comments!