UND football team pulling redshirts on two defensive backs

GRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt is in charge of recruiting the state of Colorado for the Fighting Hawks.

Schmidt did his side of the ball a favor when it came to the 2017 recruiting class from the Denver area.

True freshman cornerback Hayden Blubaugh and rookie safety Ty Shannon will not redshirt and are featured in the two-deep depth chart UND released late last week.

UND, ranked No. 8 in the STATS FCS preseason poll, opens the year against Utah — the first Power 5 program the team has faced since Texas Tech in 2009.

“I just think both guys had good fall camps and proven athletically that they belong,” Schmidt said. “Mentally, they work hard to pick up our stuff.”

UND starting safety Cole Reyes, the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year, said he likes what he sees from Blubaugh (Aurora, Colorado) and Shannon (Arvada, Colorado).

“I think they’re really skilled guys,” Reyes said. “This defense is not easy to learn, especially at the safety position. I think Blubaugh is a natural athlete. I saw him making plays in summer workouts during 7-on-7. I knew he was going to be a good player.”

Blubaugh, who’s 6-foot and 185 pounds, was one of the top prep running backs in Colorado. He earned first team Class 5A all-state honors as a junior and senior.

He recorded 30 touchdowns his senior year. He also rushed for 2,386 yards as a junior.

“Hayden was a really well-known name in Denver,” Schmidt said. “He had a ton of stats. We felt like he could help us early in his career at corner. Ty, though, flew under the radar. He wasn’t heavily recruited.”

Schmidt said Shannon’s length (6-foot-2) and athleticism are his strengths.

“He has really picked it up well and can help us on special teams,” Schmidt said. “He has confidence in himself. I don’t think the moment is too big for him. It was his plan all along to come in here and prove he can play.”

Schmidt said UND plans to ease the rookies into the game plan.

“As you get into the year, you need numbers at those positions,” Schmidt said. “It’s better to start them now and get them on special teams and in there to build some confidence. By the end of September or early October, they can be good football players and guys we can count on.”