If there was ever a year for NAU football to compete for a Big Sky championship, 2018 could be it. Long-time head coach Jerome Souers, who had a rollercoaster season on and off the field in 2017, returns a host of skill players and a handful of potential NFL prospects.
Now the question is: can the Lumberjacks put it all together this fall after finishing 7-5 a year ago?
“I think there’s a maturity on our team, we return a lot of guys,” Souers said to Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent in-studio interview. “Having a year where we put it all together has to do with that leadership, that seniority of what it takes to prepare.”
Things are about to heat up in Flagstaff! @CaptainCookus10 is ready to roll in 2018! #NAUStrong #BigSkyFB ⚒?? pic.twitter.com/PLYY0TMCii
— NAU Football (@NAU_Football) July 15, 2018
NAU returns leading passer Case Cookus, their top two running backs and wide receiver Emmanuel Butler who missed most of last season due to injury. Led by Cookus, a three-year starter and All Big Sky first team member as a junior, the Jacks won’t be short on firepower if they can stay healthy.
Our 4th best player on our top 15 FCS college football players #NAU #northernarizona #naufootball #fcsfootball #NFL #nfldraftscouting #nflscouting #Alabama #Villanova #Nova #Mercer #Samford #Stanford #leighfootball #NDSU #SDSU #Georgetown #Duke #UNC #Kansas #JMU #alcornstate pic.twitter.com/fei0BnYYxo
— Scouting Insiders (@S_Insiders) July 5, 2018
19 total starters return.
“We thought as a staff, this could be a peak year,” Souers explained of his veteran roster. “Before we’ve been a peak and valley kind of program. We want sustainable success. I think the opportunity to have this many [returning starters] together at one time in FCS football is a rare opportunity. I like our guys. They’re showing some great signs of being a quality football team.”
The Jacks open the season September 1 at UTEP. The game will be televised on ESPN3.