MT. VERNON —
On special teams the Rams will look to Lloyd as the kicker. Senior linemen Tyler Knutson and Tyler Bradley are vying for the snapping position. Fitzjerrells and Miller-Grey along with Lloyd, Jesse Green and Kenzell Rudd could be returning opponents punts and kickoffs.
The Rams biggest influx of inexperience comes on the defensive side.
“I think coming out week one against Rochester will be a test,” Shaner said. “Obviously we've talked about their football program and the success that they've had, and how good they've been the last few years. So those kids, it will be a new level for them.”
A pair of sophomores Brytan Bowers and Trevor Schubert are expected to be joined on the defensive line by Bryton Steele (junior) and Knutson. Bowers and Knutson will play on the ends with Schubert and Steele inside at the tackle spots.
The linebacking corps will be Andrew Hiner (junior), Jacob Williamson (senior) and Drew Hester (sophomore).
Gardner and Xavier Tyus (junior) will be in the safety positions with Miller-Grey and Fitzjerrells rounding out the secondary at cornerback. Marshall, once he returns, could play a role in the secondary rotation as well.
The Rams return their 4-3 structure on defense for the second straight season. Shaner said the four linemen and three linebacker scheme fits this group well, and the Rams have made a few changes from a season ago.
“We're into the second year of that, and we've tweaked a few things that we did last year,” Shaner said. “I think we've got some guys in positions that will be successful with what we're doing. So I'm definitely excited about that to watch our progress this year.”
Shaner added the two weeks prior to the opening game are all about preparation and evaluation.