Charlotte 49ers wide receiver Trent Bostick sometimes misses being home. As a college freshman, thats to be expected.
Im a family kid, said Bostick, who grew up in Rockingham. When Im away from home, its hard to adapt to certain things.
One aspect of college life that Bostick appears to be readily adapting to is playing football.
One of two true-freshmen position players who will start for the 49ers (4-3) Saturday at Charleston Southern (7-1), Bostick has become one of Charlottes big-play options on offense. Hes caught 31 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns, with a team-leading 13.4-yards per catch. His 48-yard touchdown reception late in the 49ers 53-51 victory against Gardner-Webb will go down as a signature moment in the 49ers inaugural season.
I think Trent has been the surprise of the year for us, said 49ers coach Brad Lambert. We werent expecting him to come in an be the guy at receiver, but he has. He hasnt taken a backseat to anybody. Its been fun to watch him evolve.
Bostick isnt the only true freshman who is contributing for the 49ers. The other starter is cornerback Devin Pearson, with linebacker Justin Bridges-Thompson and running back Kalif Phillips also seeing plenty of playing time. Wolfgang Zacherl has filled in on the offensive line, while kicker Blake Brewer and long-snapper Keaston Sinicki are special-teams regulars.
Playing true freshmen is not an ideal situation for most Division I football programs, but the first-year 49ers who dont have much depth arent most programs. Lambert was able to redshirt eight other true freshmen (about half of Charlottes second recruiting class) this season, giving them an extra year to adjust to football and college. Much of the 49ers starting lineup (14 players) is made up of redshirt freshmen from the first recruiting class.
Reshirting was the original plan for Bostick, who came to Charlotte after two all-conference seasons at Richmond Senior High, one of the states top prep programs.
But when Jamel Ross a redshirt freshman who had an excellent spring game hurt his knee over the summer and was lost for the season, Bostick grabbed at the chance.
I always thought that I would redshirt, said Bostick, who is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds. Id see how the game was played in college for a year and adapt like that. Id made a lot of mistakes as a senior (in high school) and I wanted time to work on them and correct them. But when I heard Jamel got hurt, I knew it was time for me to step up. I wanted to come right in and play. Now Im pretty much learning as I go.
It wasnt easy on Bostick early in training camp.
He was way down on the depth chart, said Lambert. But he kept at it and won the job.
Bostick said playing in a program like Richmond Senior helped prepare him for the college game. In fact, thats a common thread for many of Charlottes true freshmen: Bostick, Pearson (Rock Hill South Pointe), Phillips (Kannapolis Brown), Bridges-Thompson (Spartanburg) and Sinicki (Charlotte Catholic) played for high school coaches who are used to sending players on to college.
I was totally prepared for it," said Pearson, who has 23 tackles and a sack this season. "My (high school) coach (Strait Herron) made sure of that. Ive had to adjust to the game speed, but I think I was ready.
Lambert said hes considering red-shirting some of this seasons true freshmen in 2014, so they will have a seasons worth of experience but three years of eligibility remaining when the 49ers begin play in Conference USA in 2015.
That would be fine with Bostick, who along with reshirt freshman Austin Duke (41 catches, 504 yards, six TDs) and senior Mikel Hunter (32, 395, two), form a formidable receiving corps for quarterback Matt Johnson.
As long as Im staying focused on what Im doing, Im happy, he said.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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