UNI's Flater ready to hone raw talent

Jake Ryder

CEDAR FALLS – Bryce Flater went from learning his linebacker position with the University of Northern Iowa football team to having to ply his trade in a high-stakes postseason game last season.
Entering his redshirt sophomore year at UNI, expectations have changed for the former Grundy Center standout.
"I don't think he even thought he'd play last year until he was in the game," UNI head coach Mark Farley said. "This year, he expects to play, he wants to be the starter and he's got to earn it."
Competition is driving Flater to elevate his game, including incoming freshmen and young transfers like Spencer Cuvelier, Jackson Martens and Jesse Smith.
The Panthers needed to build depth at linebacker after the loss of starters Rickey Neal Jr., Duncan Ferch, Blake Thomas and Kendrick Suntken.
"We hope they'll add to guys that have been here and are still young that we're still looking for big things from," said D.J. Vokolek, UNI's linebacker coach. "We're happy with this crew."
JORGENSEN IMPRESSIVE EARLY: Farley spoke highly of his two true freshmen kickers, Isaac Jorgensen of Dike-New Hartford and Matthew Cook of Cedar Falls, as competition begins at the kicking specialist positions during fall camp.
"It's a lot more intense, a lot faster-paced," Jorgensen said. "The specialists are battling with each other to get better. We'll be happy for whoever gets that starting spot but we'll always be working to compete for that spot.
ARENDS BUILDING STRENGTH: Chase Arends, another D-NH grad, enters his redshirt freshman season as an offensive lineman for the Panthers.
"Last year was a big learning season for me," Arends said. "Figuring out the speed of the game, trying to get my strength up is what I was focused on."
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