Simoneau changes from star pupil to mentor

Drew Egnoske

When it comes to coaching a college football team, a head football coach relies heavily upon both his assistant coaches, as well as graduate assistants.  Graduate assistants are often former members of a team who come back to gain invaluable experience with the hopes of one day becoming coaches themselves.

The Washburn football team has seen its fair share of grad assistants connected with its program, but none with the eminent career that Dane Simoneau had while playing for the Ichabods. 

Simoneau, who graduated last year, established his name at the top of 35 separate school records, some of those with exclamation points. 

“I think it’s real valuable because the young quarterbacks can talk to him, plus he’s got good ideas when we are sitting in meetings,” said head coach Craig Schurig. 

Schurig also doubles as the quarterbacks coach and works closely with Simoneau on developing the talent at the position. 

After finishing the 2011 season with over 4,000 yards, 38 touchdowns and finishing second for the Harlon Hill award, the road to the next level looked promising.  That opportunity never came however, and Simoneau found himself back at Washburn as a graduate assistant helping to mold the young quarterbacks that the Ichabods must rely on this year. 

“I haven’t heard much so far and I’m gonna focus on my classes and this team,” said Simoneau. 

In the mean time he is staying in shape by throwing to receivers on the team as well as former teammate Joe Hastings.

“Whatever happens, happens,” said Simoneau. “I’m still working out, throwing to guys out here and staying ready.”

Schurig is also hopeful that Simoneau will get a chance to play in the NFL.

“He’s gotten a couple of calls from teams but nothing happened.  Hopefully it does,” said Schurig.   “He is just gonna stay in shape if it does happen.”

Sophomore quarterbacks Mitch Buhler and Joel Piper are grateful to have Simoneau to mentor them through their development as the next feature signal caller for the Ichabods.

“He’s a friend, a mentor, and a teammate to me,” said Buhler, who has started the last two games for Washburn this season.  “He pretty much mastered the offense when he was here so he’s like a second coach on the field who’s been there.  It really helps us out.”

Piper, a junior college transfer from Butler Community College, also appriciates having Simoneau on the sideline.

“He helps with the little things and the things that you can’t notice on your own,” said Piper. “He knows a lot about these teams we are playing.”

Simoneau’s mentorship has been paying dividends on the field so far. Buhler was able to find the end zone twice in the Ichabods first game against the University of Nebraska-Kearney.  Last Saturday, against Fort Hays, Buhler added four more scores to his total.

Hope has brought Simoneau back to Washburn and hope is what he holds on to as he awaits his future career. 

“Hopefully come spring time, some teams will have some needs,” said Simoneau.