Coach Rick Chamberlin saw Andrew Holderer finish his interview with local media Wednesday outside the Frericks Center and wondered if the new starting tight end for the Dayton Flyers had said he was going to make everyone forget Adam Trautman.
Of course, Holderer did not do that. And of course, Chamberlin was joking.
No one’s going to forget Trautman, the highest-drafted Pioneer Football League player in history, anytime soon — especially if he has a breakout season, as many experts are predicting, in his second year in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. Holderer, a senior from Edwardsville, Ill., certainly won’t forget Trautman.
“There’s so much that you could learn from putting on his film or seeing him in practice,” Holderer said. “He’s just a great guy. Every time I had a question or needed help on a drill or something, he was always there. You just soaked up all of his wisdom, and it was just a really great experience.”
Holderer is one of a number of new starters for Dayton, which opens the season at noon Saturday against Robert Morris at Welcome Stadium. More than 30 players listed on the first depth chart are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.
End: Redshirt junior Joe Durham; and freshman Chris Pepe.
Tackle: Redshirt junior Kyle Finnick; and redshirt freshman Drew Robertson.
Tackle: Redshirt freshman Sam Schadek; and redshirt junior Jake Lyons.
End: Redshirt junior Mason Stauffer; and freshman Mason Henry.
Linebacker: Redshirt junior Grant Dyer; and redshirt junior Danny Meehan.
Dyer ranked second on the team with 67 tackles in 2019.
Linebacker: Senior Shane Ferrick; and graduate student Ben Schmiesing.
Flyer: Redshirt junior Zach Rumpke; and graduate student Owen Smith.
The Flyer is a hybrid safety/linebacker position. Two years ago, Rumpke took the field when co-captain Andrew Lutgens was injured in the season opener and clinched a victory over No. 14 Indiana State with an interception. Rumpke, who finished third on the team with 66 tackles and led the team with six tackles for a loss, called Lutgens a great teacher.
“He couldn’t have helped prepare me any better,” Rumpke said. “That interception, I was just right where I was supposed to be at the right time, and as the season went on, I think my confidence grew.”
Cornerback: Redshirt junior Logan Tate; and graduate student A.J. Watson.
Cornerback: Redshirt freshman Elijah Smith; and redshirt junior Sam Broom.
Safety: Senior Joe Bubonics; and redshirt freshman Matt Lenti.
Bubonics started the last six games of the 2018 season at cornerback but missed the 2019 season with an injury. He moved to safety, where Dayton had less experience.
Safety: Senior safety Brandon Easterling; and redshirt freshman Logan Dalton.
The Fairborn High School graduate Easterling led FCS schools in solo tackles per game (7.5) and turnovers acquired (six interceptions and three fumbles). He was named a preseason All-American, along with Chisholm.
“He’s just an absolute player,” Rumpke said. “It’s an honor to play alongside him. Great player. He puts his heart on the field, and I love how vocal the guy is, too. I think he’s one of the best motivators and leaders that I’ve ever seen.”
Easterling is one of five returning starters on the defense, along with Finnick, Rumpke, Smith and Dyer.
Punter: Redshirt freshman Drew Neiman; and Dyer.
Kicker: Sophomore Sam Webster; and redshirt freshman Michael Denning.
Webster was Dayton’s freshman of the year in 2019. He made 8 of 9 field goals and 68 of 60 extra points.
Holder: Nieman; and Dow.
Snapper: Redshirt freshman Hayden Snyder; and (short) Marc Rumpke.