One of the Dallas Cowboys’ newest members has an uphill climb to the 53-man, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Dallas’ backfield has gone under some major changes over the offseason with longtime RB Ezekiel Elliott being released from the team and the Cowboys adding Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn in the 2023 NFL draft.
Another new name could be contributing this fall, as Dallas added North Dakota State fullback Hunter Luepke as an undrafted free agent. Luepke isn’t a well-known name, but hype doesn’t determine a roster spot.
Dallas Morning News reporter David Moore believes that he Luepke has the potential to “make noise” this offseason and maybe even make the roster.
“The fullback from North Dakota State can pick up some tough yards and is an outstanding receiver out of the backfield. Luepke averaged 6.1 yards rushing and 17.6 yards receiving for his college career and scored 33 touchdowns,” Moore wrote.
It would be a surprising development for an undrafted fullback to make the Cowboys final roster, but a versatile skillset is what’s required for players like Luepke to have a chance.
Deeper Look into Luepke
Since 2011, North Dakota State has been the most dominant college football program. The Bison play in the FCS rather than FBS, but NDSU has won nine national titles since 2011. Luepke was in Fargo for the Bisons’ last three titles.
Over that span, Luepke totaled 1665 rushing yards and another 494 receiving yards to crack the 2,000-yard mark from scrimmage. His 33 touchdowns were split with 24 coming on the ground and the remaining nine being on receptions.
The fullback is clearly durable as well, playing in 43 games over the course of his career with North Dakota State. Being a physical player is critical to being a fullback, but Luepke has the ability to play hard-nosed football and stay healthy.
And it’s certain that Cowboys fans wouldn’t mind seeing a ball-carrier who looks to run over defenders like what Luepke does in the video below.
SEC Star Predicted to Also Challenge for Roster
Besides Luepke, another name that has been labeled as a surprise candidate for the 53-man roster is former Mississippi State defensive end Tyrus Wheat.
The Cowboys are deep at defensive end, but Inside the Star‘s Damon Smith believes that there is a path forward for the former Bulldog.
“…Acquiring a draftable player at a premium position like edge rusher could be a massive steal,” Smith writes. “Here’s the hope for Wheat: [Viliami] Fehoko and/or [Chauncey] Golston may be considered defensive tackles more so than defensive ends which could open a seat at the table for Wheat.”
As Heavy previously covered, Wheat totaled 17 sacks over three seasons with Mississippi State and never had less than 5 sacks in a season. Consistent production is always a good sign, and doing it in a conference like the SEC helps too.
However, Wheat’s resume was apparently not impressive enough to be drafted and he’s fallen into the Cowboys’ hands. Whether or not he’s a “steal” remains to be seen.