What will Santa bring the Huskies this year?
Last year the Huskies had one of their best recruiting years ever, landing blue-chip talent from across Western Canada. Many of those players, such as Joel Seutter, Cam Redl, Garrett Bolen, Jeff Hassler, Seamus Neary, Zach Hart, and Luke Thiel, were able to step in and make an immediate impact. Others, like linebackers Charlie Power, Stephen Dereniwski and Thomas Hilderman, defensive backs Andrew Abbs and Zach Horsman, receivers Matt Walker and Garrett Burgess, offensive lineman Brad Nehring and defensive end Levi Steinhauer, made tremendous impressions but were caught in positions where the Huskies were deep in veteran talent.
With a number of fourth and fifth-year veterans leaving the team, the Huskies have some holes that need to be filled. But considering the quantity and quality of the recruits added in the past two years, the urgency to add a large number of recruits is not as apparent as past years. That’s not to say there will be an easing-up in recruiting – just the opposite. In the very competitive market for football talent that is Canada West, the Huskies will still be seeking out the top talent, especially if a player offers them a potential upgrade or shows the promise of being a starter a couple years down the line.
Although it’s doubtful we’ll see the number of players added that we saw last year, there are a few open spots on the roster due to graduation, and there will likely be a few players currently on the roster who will not return, as there is every year. So what are the Huskies’ greatest needs? We’ll be analyzing these needs, using the best information we have at the moment, in a six-part series this week.
Today: Quarterback and Running Backs
Wednesday: Offensive Line
Thursday: Defensive Line
Saturday: Defensive Secondary
Quarterbacks and Running Backs
Graduating Players: Tyler O’Gorman
Likely Returning Veterans: Dathan Thomas, Jeff Hassler, Alex Balogun, Mark Klause, Connor Lutz, Ben Randall, Devin Sapara, Terrell Klassen (running backs); Laurence Nixon, Trevor Barss, Parker Siemens, Matt Busse, Trent Peterson (quarterbacks)
Outlook: The Huskies will need to bring in a running back or two as fifth-year veteran Tyler O’Gorman has graduated and Dathan Thomas will be heading into his fifth-year of eligibility. Jeff Hassler proved his pre-season hype to be justified, leading the Huskies in net rushing yardage and finishing tied for the most rushing touchdowns with O’Gorman, all in only four games. 2010 is looking promising, with the return of both Thomas and Hassler, and with Alex Balogun and Mark Klause likely to return for another campaign.
The Huskies have run into injury problems with the running back position, so the more depth, the better. The Huskies have been known to recruit tailbacks out of junior, so don’t be surprised to see a junior veteran or two join the fold, although top notch high school talent is always welcome. The fullback position, which was split between Balogun and receivers Scott McHenry and Shayne Dueck, may be a recruiting focus, as the Huskies didn’t employ the fullback in 2009 as they did in past years. A player in the mold of Dan Houle, Jeff Peircy or Todd Lynden, which is a player with size who can catch as well as block, would benefit the Huskies.
At quarterback, starter Laurence Nixon is expected to return for his fifth-year. He will make the Huskies automatic contenders for the Hardy Cup and games beyond, bringing veteran poise and leadership. Trevor Barss may be back again, which will give the Huskies tremendous depth at the position, as Barss has shown he can come in and efficiently and effectively run the Huskies’ offence.
The Huskies’ veteran quarterbacks will be counted on to groom the Huskies’ next starter, who many believe to be Trent Peterson. Peterson is expected back after returning from his two-year Mormon mission. Peterson is familiar with the offence after spending his first year out of high school with the Huskies and will likely see some playing time during the year.
Another quarterback may be in order, depending on what Busse’s plans are. He has assumed a big role with the Huskie’s volleyball team, so he may choose to focus on that sport. Parker Siemens continues to improve and should see a similar role that he did last season. Don’t be surprised to see another recruit added to the roster at the quarterback position.