Six Southeast Missouri State football players are slated to receive their first starts as Redhawks on Thursday.
Southeast coach Tony Samuel revealed his updated depth chart Monday in advance of the 6 p.m. season opener at Central Michigan.
Things could change between now and then, but the lineup that takes the field Thursday against the Football Bowl Subdivision program likely will resemble the current depth chart.
"Any time you put somebody out there for the first time, you don't know what to expect," Samuel said. "Our kids have been preparing well. But it's different when you get in a game. I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform."
The projected first-time starters all were in the program last year and gained varying amounts of playing time.
Certain to receive the most scrutiny from Southeast fans among the rookie starters is redshirt freshman quarterback Scott Lathrop. He takes over the reins of the offense after sophomore transfer Kyle Snyder suffered a season-ending knee injury early in fall camp.
Lathrop, who came to Southeast as a walk-on, practiced with the Redhawks last year while being redshirted.
"If there's such a thing as timing, Scott got a chance to take a lot of reps [after Snyder went down]," Samuel said. "I think he'll do fine. He's a competitive kid. I like his confidence."
The other first-time starter on offense is sophomore center Corey Porter. The Sikeston, Mo., native saw action in six games last year as a true freshman.
"He came on well last year," Samuel said. "We're excited about him."
Projected first-time starters on defense are sophomore linebacker Daniel Siehndel, senior free safety Branden Spann, junior cornerback Cantrell Andrews and sophomore cornerback Reggie Jennings.
Siehndel played in 10 games last year, primarily on special teams, and registered seven tackles.
Spann collected five tackles while seeing action in all 11 games.
Andrews, a Central High School graduate who transferred from NAIA Missouri Valley, and Jennings both came to Southeast as walk-ons. They redshirted last year while practicing with the Redhawks.
"They're going to be challenged," Samuel said of his two cornerbacks who will go up against Central Michigan's prolific passing attack.
The rest of the starting lineup features 16 players who made at least two starts a year ago. The group includes 12 seniors.
Joining Porter up front offensively will be senior tackle Evan Conrad, sophomore tackle Ben Schmidt, senior guard Colt McCauley and senior guard Pete Niggemann.
Conrad, a preseason All-American, has made 32 consecutive starts dating to his freshman season. McCauley also started all 11 games last year.
Samuel plans on using several tailbacks, like last year. The Redhawks return their top three players at that position from 2011.
Senior Levi Terrell will get the start. He appeared headed for a big season in 2011 before breaking his collarbone during the fifth game. He missed the last six contests.
Terrell, who posted consecutive 100-yard games before the injury, still finished as Southeast's No. 3 rusher with 312 yards. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry.
Sophomore Ron Coleman will be at fullback. He was the Redhawks' No. 2 rusher with 320 yards a year ago.
"We've got some very good running backs," Samuel said.
The wide receivers will be junior D.J. Foster and sophomore Spencer Davis.
Foster led Southeast with 25 catches despite missing four games last year. He averaged 14.1 yards per reception.
Davis caught 20 passes for a 15.7-yard average. He also proved to be dangerous in the run game on wide receiver pitches, rushing for 250 yards on just nine attempts.
Senior Marq Goodlitt gets the nod at tight end after making six receptions in 2011.
Defensively, Southeast's line starters will be senior nose tackle Joe Malolo, senior tackle Taylor Ramsey and senior ends Justin Love and Alonzo Nevarez.
Malolo led Southeast linemen with 48 tackles last year. He tied for the team lead with 1.5 sacks.
Love, a starter since his freshman season, recorded 22 tackles in 2011. Ramsey had 18 tackles and Nevarez had 16.
Senior linebackers Blake Peiffer and Darrick Borum both started all 11 games last season.
Peiffer, a Jackson High School graduate, landed a spot on four All-American squads in 2011 after leading the Ohio Valley Conference in tackles and ranking third nationally with a school-record 151. He also paced Southeast with 7.5 tackles for loss.
Borum was Southeast's fourth-leading tackler last year with 65.
Junior strong safety Ben Kargbo is the only listed secondary starter who had starting experience last year. He recorded 26 tackles.
Many of Southeast's true freshmen under Samuel have redshirted, but several see action each season, particularly on special teams.
Several true freshmen appear on the depth chart, including quarterback Blake Jackson. He enters the year as Lathrop's backup.
Also listed No. 2 on the depth chart are nose tackle Jon Slania and defensive end Travis Sanders.
Several more true freshmen are slotted No. 3 on the depth chart.
"I think we have to play some [true freshmen] just for depth when we get to conference," Samuel said.
* Thursday's game will be broadcast by ESPN3, which is available online.