"This is his second year in the system, which will help him," Hope said. "I can tell he has a better understanding of what we are doing. I hope he comes out and makes a big impact. Last year he played some, but he didn't have much of an impact. However, we all know he's a guy that has a lot of skills and I can tell by the way he's worked that he wants to make an impact."
Hope feels freshman running back Mark Dunn of Harrodsburg could help immediately, too. The Colonels return just one experienced running back, C.J. Hudson. Behind him is senior Jason Gray, who has played running back, receiver and defensive back before moving back to offense this year.
"Mark has a chance to help this year. He could come in and make an impact," Hope said. "He's a good player, the kind you want to have. He may eventually be a standout running back, but he could help this year, too."
Freshman running back Charles Penix, the most valuable player in Danville's state title win last year, could also help if he's eligible. Hope said Eastern is still awaiting word from the NCAA clearninghouse on the status of Penix and several other players.
"He was one of the top high school players in the state last year. He's big, strong and physical," Hope said.
Freshman Ian Young of Boyle County might have a more difficult time playing. Eastern has depth and experience at linebacker, where Young could play. If he goes to the defensive line, he may need a year to add more strength and weight.
"He's not playing a spot where it is as easy to make an impact as a freshman," Hope said. "It's never predetermined that we will redshirt anybody. He could surprise us all because he has great technique and we expect him to compete with the guys we have. But if he's not ready, we'll probably redshirt him because we think he's eventually really going to be a good player."
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