UND football fall camp Day 3: Competition for starting cornerback runs deep

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Aug. 5—GRAND FORKS — The offseason was tough for UND's cornerbacks.

First, UND graduated veteran corner Evan Holm, who's now on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice squad.

Then, UND lost backups Caleb Nelson and Sam Robertson to the NCAA Transfer Portal. Nelson went to Sacramento State and Robertson went to Northern Illinois.

The Fighting Hawks have experienced veteran C.J. Siegel on one side of the defensive backfield in 2022. But as UND went through Day 3 of fall camp on Friday morning, the Hawks are still searching for a corner to step up and fill the starting void opposite Siegel.

The primary candidates are Richard Agyekum, Clayton Bishop and Devin Hembry.

Agyekum is a 5-foot-9 sophomore from the Netherlands. He had multiple Power 5 offers in recruiting but has yet to crack much playing time in Grand Forks. He's currently listed as the starter at cornerback.

But the other two are right in the mix. Bishop, a 6-foot redshirt freshman, was a big get in recruiting as the Wisconsin native held scholarship offers from North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa.

Hembry has the ideal size. The 6-foot-2 junior college transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M arrived at spring ball last year and is still learning the system.

Rookie cornerbacks Jamal Dixon (Moorhead) and Antonio Bluiett (Buffalo, Minn.) both have long, athletic frames and are candidates to at least play in the allotted four games athletes can now use without using a redshirt.

The scene: UND practiced from 8:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Memorial Stadium in pads for the first time. Temperatures were the warmest of fall at about 75 degrees.

Play of the day: Red Wilson, a transfer from Mesabi Range, made a diving catch after a would-be interception was dropped by cornerback Richard Agyekum.

Looking good: UND attempted some field goals of about 30 yards out. Both starter Brady Stevens and backup C.J. Elrichs (true freshman from Olathe, Kan.) made strong, accurate contact.

* True freshman wide receiver Caden Dennis drew some ooos and ahhs from teammates when he juked a defensive back during passing drills on a quick-hitting pass to the outside.

* With the first day of pads, tempers flared a few times between the offense and defense. During 11-on-11, safety Kadon Kauppinen and running back Gaven Ziebarth exchanged some extra physical play, which led to basically a baseball-style scuffle.

* Malachi Buckner, transfer safety from Gardner-Webb, showed his athleticism in team drills when he broke quickly on a pass to the outside and just barely missed an interception on a completion to Bo Belquist.

* Red Wilson continues to make plays as a scat wide receiver underneath.

* True freshman tight end Haydn Stay made a few plays in passing drills and looks to already have a college frame.

* UND worked more on the run game during practice Friday with players in pads for the first time. Northern Iowa transfer Tyler Hoosman went on a long, impressive run during 11-on-11 play.

* The Hawks return to the practice field Saturday morning before taking Sunday off.