Southern Utah opens its 2015 football season Sept. 3 as they travel to Maverik Stadium in Logan to play Utah State in a 7 p.m. kickoff. After working out the initial issues of simulating the Aggies’ game on both sides of the football, coach Ed Lamb said senior leadership has fueled a sense of optimism.
“With 11 seniors starting, that brings a lot of leadership,” Lamb said. “The team expected to be good last year, but didn’t have the good record. It added to the motivation in the off-season, and it’s carried into the season now.”
Among the senior leaders, three are being touted as potential NFL draft picks. Scouts from the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans were at a recent SUU practice watching defensive end James Cowser along with defensive backs LeShaun Sims and Miles Killebrew.
Even with the distraction of the extra attention, Killebrew admitted the focus has to remain staying grounded and humble.
“I compared it going from high school to college,” said Killebrew, who finished last season with 101 tackles, second to Chinedu Ahanonu. “We just tell them how it is. I try to stay as humble as I can and treat (the scouts) with respect. Treat them the way I’d want to be treated.
“This is like a job interview, but I love it,” he added. “Not stressful at all.”
To celebrate the new season, Killebrew returned to dying his hair blond and promised more of his teammates would join him by Thursday’s opening game.
“It’s something to change it up, to get ready,” Killebrew said. “Maybe it’s a new mindset, an opportunity for some redemption.”
As for expectations in facing the Aggies, Killebrew said SUU will have to focus on its strengths.
“Utah State’s always had a powerful offense and a defense to match,” he said. “We just have to work on our game plan to do our best at what we’re good at. We’re good at stopping the run and we have solid corners and safeties to help with stopping the pass.”
Junior wide receiver Mike Sharp, a Dixie High grad, wants to build momentum from the team’s run at the end of last season that finished with a road rivalry win at Northern Arizona.
“USU has a lot of good athletes at the linebacker level and secondary,” said Sharp, who finished with 34 catches for 511 yards with four touchdowns. “We’re going to have to be on our A game, run our routes crisp and sharp to relieve some of the pressure off (quarterback) Ammon (Olsen), so he knows where we’re at.”
And the motivation for Sharp is pretty simple as the T-Birds move into 2015.
“We had a nasty taste in our mouths from last year,” he said. “We don’t want it to happen again, so we’re going to make things different this year.”