Breaking down Eastern’s football depth chart position by position

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Breaking down Eastern’s football depth chart position by position


Eastern running back Isaiah Johnson charges forward with the ball in a game last season against Tennesse Tech at O’Brien Field. Johnson, to no suprise, was name the first-string running back this season.

Eastern running back Isaiah Johnson charges forward with the ball in a game last season against Tennesse Tech at O’Brien Field. Johnson, to no suprise, was name the first-string running back this season.

File Photo

Eastern running back Isaiah Johnson charges forward with the ball in a game last season against Tennesse Tech at O’Brien Field. Johnson, to no suprise, was name the first-string running back this season.

File Photo

File Photo

Eastern running back Isaiah Johnson charges forward with the ball in a game last season against Tennesse Tech at O’Brien Field. Johnson, to no suprise, was name the first-string running back this season.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

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The Eastern football team released its first depth chart of the year ahead of this Saturday’s game with Arkansas, finally giving answers and clarity to some position battles that have been waging since last spring.

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the depth chart:

Quarterback: QB1-Harry Woodbery and Johnathan Brantley, QB2- Scotty Gilkey Jr.

The first things that jump off this depth chart is something that has been expected to happen for a long time, but now it can finally be seen officially on paper, and that is that both Harry Woodbery and Johnathan Brantley are listed as the first-string quarterback. 

The two have been neck and neck in the race since last spring and head coach Kim Dameron said following the last scrimmage that he had no reason yet to choose one over the other. So, there is no surprise here on the depth chart.

Scotty Gilkey Jr. won the job as first backup, meaning it is unclear where freshman Qua Gray and redshirt-freshman Jaylin Banks fall in after that.

Running Backs: RB1- Isaiah Johnson, RB2- Robert Columbus 

Seeing preseason all-conference running back Isaiah Johnson in the No. 1 spot should come as no surprise to anyone. Seeing Columbus in the two spot however says a lot. 

There were four running backs in camp this fall, all played very well. Independence Community College transfer Jamal Scott ran well in both scrimmages, showing off his power-running and last year’s backup Darshon McCullough played well also, showcasing his speed and versatility. 

Columbus being named in the second spot probably has a lot to do with his big performance in the first scrimmage where he showed a tremendous amount of athleticism and awareness on the field. 

The depth chart at this position does not matter as much as others, simply because all four of the running backs are very talented and will most likely be used in different capacities all season by the Eastern coaching staff. 

Consider this one of Eastern’s deepest positions. 

Receivers: WR1-Alexander Hollins, WR2-Aaron Gooch, WR3-Nick Atoyebi, James Sheehan, Xander Richards, Matt Reyna, Teriq Phillips, Bryce Walker

Preseason all-conference receiver Alexander Hollins returns at the No. 1 option alongside redshirt-senior Aaron Gooch at the two spot. This duo has been expected to be the one and two option for this year since the end of last season. 

Redshirt-senior Nick Atoyebi finds himself in the three spot for the first time in his Eastern career after putting together a strong fall camp. He capped off camp in the second scrimmage by making an incredible one-handed touchdown grab in the corner of the endzone on a pass from Woodbery. 

Redshirt-junior James Sheehan will be the starting tight end for Eastern once again: he started all 11 games for the Panthers last season. Bryce Walker will serve as his backup. 

Teriq Phillips is the lone freshman receiver of four true freshmen on the roster to make the depth chart. 

Offensive Line: RT1-Aaron Callaway, RG1-Luther Harris, C1- Cole Hoover, LG1- Johari Branch, LT1-Josh Doyle, RT&LT2- Grant Branch, RG&LG2-Travis Buckwalter, C2-Eliki Tanuvasa

A big shakeup to the offensive line is seen here with redshirt-senior Josh Doyle earning the starting nod at left tackle over senior Grant Branch who started all 11 games there last season.

Branch, who was praised for his versatility by Dameron this fall, can be seen listed as the immediate back for both the left and right tackle spots. 

Aaron Callaway will move from starting right guard last season to starting right tackle this year. 

It’s no shock to see that Cole Hoover is the starting center, it is interesting however to see true freshman Eliki Tanuvasa as the backup. Tanuvasa has been a name coaches have been excited about dating back to signing day last spring. In camp this fall, he was mentioned by Dameron and Callaway by name as a guy that can have an impact on the line this season. 

Defensive Line: DE1- Ryan Coleman, DE1- Josh Price, DT1- Terrell Greer, DT1-Levi Watson DE2- Sean Williams, DE2- BJ Ojo, DT2- James Ubaike, DT2- Taylon Shepard

This unit boasts some depth as both Ubaike and Ojo, who are listed as the No. 2 options at their respective positions, are both guys that put together good fall camps and caught the eye of coaches.

Terrell Greer will be one of the bigger impact guys on the entire defense, so there is no surprise seeing him get the starting role at defensive tackle. 

Ryan Coleman and Josh Price could be a formidable pass rush duo for the Panthers in their starting roles, but if they are not, there are good options sitting behind them in Ojo and Williams.

Linebackers: LB1- Dytarious Johnson, LB1- Joe Caputo, LB2- Camden Meade, LB2- Nolan Dean

Caputo started last season, but Meade put together such a strong fall camp, it could have been a coin-flip which player won the starting role. Ultimately, the coaching staff will stick to its guns and keep Caputo in the starting role, but if he struggles or gets injured, and very solid backup will be waiting in the wings. 

Dytarious Johnson was said to be one of the best players in FCS football by defensive coordinator Cary Fowler and he may be Eastern’s best defensive player next season if all goes well. 

Defensive Backs: CB1- Mark Willams, CB2- DySaun Smith, CB3- Javon Turner, CB4- Darius Waddell, FS1- Raymond Crittenden, FS2- Corneliuss Page, R1- Iziah Gulley, R2- Edwyn Brown, S1- Antonio Crosby, S2- Bryce Dewberry

The big name here is preseason all-conference cornerback Mark Williams returning to his spot on the depth chart. Former receiver turned cornerback Javon Turner at the three spot will be interesting to watch all season.

Raymond Crittenden, who was injured all of last season, caught the eye of coaches with a big fall camp and will be the starting free safety this season. 

Specialists: K1- Nick Bruno, K2- Matt Severino, KOS- Josh Delgado, P- Nick Bruno, PR1- Aaron Gooch, PR2-Matt Reyna, KR1- Matt Reyna, KR2- Alexander Hollins, KR3- Darshon McCullough

Nick Bruno will once again be the starting kicker, he will also handle the punting duties. 

Aaroon Gooch returns once again as punt returner, a positon he has excelled at in the past. 

Big-legged freshman Josh Delgado will handle the kickoff duties. 

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]