Impact Player....what is it?
In this case, it's a player who signed with the team last recruiting period and is expected to play A LOT this fall. Guys who come in and are ready to go.
In Idaho's case they were blessed with signing a JC class that included 2 athletes who had formerly played on PAC-10 rosters, plus 3 athletes adorned with the coveted 3- and 4-STAR rankings by the various recruiting gurus.
In other words, players who have been around the block and bring with them some knowledge of the game at the Division-1A level and some weapons that can do some damage on a 1A gridiron.
Three players who made a major impact already, rising to the top (or near the top) of their depth chart during spring drills, are cornerback Jason Martin (played as a true freshman CB for the Arizona Wildcats), and wide receivers Matt Askew (rated a 3-STAR prospect by Scout.com, brings 6-3 size and 4.6 - 40 speed) and Daniel Smith (also rated a 3-STAR prospect by Scout.com, the native of Houston, Texas earned All Conference honors at LA Pierce where he was a team captain).
We'll start with the wide receivers.
First, for those that may not know what the heck a "Flanker" is or where he lines up, below is a quick breakdown of the wide receiver positions Idaho fills. For reference, in this type of offense the Tightend is also known as the "Y" receiver (we'll highlight them later this fall...we have a couple studs there).
|Wide Receiver Map
SE = SPLIT END (X) = The weakside receiver starts on the line and is sometimes known as the split end. He's the receiver that lines up on the side OPPOSITE the tight end. What's he doing way out there? Giving the other team a headache. You see, he could be out there angling for a passing position, in which case somebody has to go out and cover him. But he also could just be going out for a little jog, in which case the fellows covering him (ordinarily cornerbacks and possibly a safety, all get a workout if the SE is a threat) would end up half a mile away from where the real play is coming together. So the split end is pretty much equal parts reception and misdirection.
FL = FLANKER (Z) = The strongside receiver starts a yard behind the line of scrimmage and is sometimes known as the flanker. It is the flanker who is most usually seen "in motion" and this extra freedom makes him more difficult to jam on the line of scrimmage. They call him a "Flanker," incidentally, because he's off to the side of the quarterback - on his flank. His purpose is to catch balls and cause more headaches. Usually a team has their most dangerous receiver as the flanker.
SL = SLOT (several letters, sometimes A or B) = The basic offensive formation has the tackle and tight end closely positioned and receivers positioned wide near the sidelines. That leaves a gap -- a slot -- between each receiver and the line. When a receiver lines up in that gap, he is called the slot receiver.
OK, so that's wide receiver 101. Which one of the above will Matt Askew and Daniel Smith fill? Impossible for us to tell at the moment. And truthfully, our receivers are fairly interchangeable, lining up at multiple positions depending on the D, the receiver, and the situation.
|#5 Daniel Smith
Unless, of course, someone comes in and becomes the prototypical receiver at that position. Excellent hands, precision routes, separation from the CB/DB. That's where we're just going to have to sit back and see where these players end up fitting best.
Both earned significant reps with the #1 offense all spring. Matt had the best numbers of the two receivers during the Spring Game, where he caught four passes for 58 yards and scored two touchdowns. On the other hand, Daniel caught 4 passes for 38 hard fought yards. Both were the only receivers to catch 4 passes on the team during the game. Smith also returned one kick for 28 yards.
|#3 Matt Askew
Where will they play? We're not sure. Will they play? We'd be relatively stunned if they didn't. It doesn't necessarily mean that we expect both to start, as there is a talented pool of wide out at Idaho forming once again, harkening back to the glory days of Eric Yarber, Kasey Dunn, Yo Murphy, Alan Allen, Brian Alan, Lee Alan, Antonio Wilson, Kyle Gary, Ethan Jones, etc. In the mix are returner Wendell Octave, Desmond Belton, Christian Populis, Ryan Heacock, and welcoming gray shirt freshman Tracy Ford, among others. Competition should be intense.
But we're confident that both Smith and Askew will factor heavily into the rotation...they already are.
Switching gears to defense, enter JC transfer cornerback Jason Martin. Idaho needs as much experience in its defensive backfield as it can get this year, and Jason fits the bill nicely. He originally signed with the Arizona Wildcats in 2002, where he earned playing time immediately as a true freshman. In 2003, while getting some looks at wide receiver, he redshirted. In 2004, when Mackovic was fired, Martin took his game to Mt. San Antonio College (CA) and earned 1st Team All Mission Conference honors as a cornerback.
|#10 Jason Martin
Looking for some game experience, and some Division-1A experience, all in one package? Jason is your man.
This spring, having met academic requirements early and enrolling at Idaho in January, all Jason did was join the Vandal defensive backfield and, according to our observations, spent significant time with the number ones throughout spring.
Using the Spring Game as a barometer, Martin recorded 3 tackles in the game, plus snagged an interception in the second quarter which he returned 29 yards for a TD.
Not a bad entrance.
As with the wideouts, it's really impossible to say at this point if Jason is the #1 CB for fall. The team just put full pads on a couple days ago, the depth chart has some solid game experience (sophomore Reggie Jones started 1 game and senior Herb Cash played in 10 games, picked a pass and sacked a QB) and an influx of athletes with jets (California HS Track standouts Wesley Williams and Keith Charles). Plus the staff is experimenting with a few players to see who can fit in (for instance, as we reported earlier this week, JC wide receiver recruit DeAngelo Ramsey is getting serious looks at CB and S).
But Jason is right there, getting his reps with the ones and looking like a player to reckon with this fall.