Media day means time for business

Josh Rouse

Despite the sweltering summer heat, a throng of photographers and journalists gathered for media day at Yager Stadium Saturday, Aug. 8.

Players scrambled around the field, posing for photos and giving interviews to local members of the media. Every five minutes or so, a coach would scream “KCK guys get over here,” referring to all the players from Kansas City, Kan., as they tried to organize the team for more pictures. However, even with the almost comedic affair taking place at the 50 yard line, the members of the team were ready to get down to business.

“We have a lot of good seniors coming back, we have a lot of guys who played last year, so our returners look good,” said Craig Schurig, who is entering his seventh year as head coach of the Ichabods. “When you start practice-we’ve been through two-you feel like you’re on pace to be pretty good because of all the returner guys that you have. We feel like we have a talented team and we have some depth, so you hope you stay healthy, but I think we have some really good players this year.”

In particular, one player stuck out to Schurig as an individual who might surprise some people: senior wide receiver Joe Hastings.

“Drameagon Powers had the best numbers last year and he should have another good year, but Joe Hastings had just a fantastic spring,” said Schurig. “I think he could have a breakout season for us, kind of like a young man named Jake Lebahn a couple years ago–his senior year–had a great season. I look for Joe to have that kind of year.”

Aside from the explosive offensive threats that Washburn offers this season, one of the major components for success will be the play of the defense. Several key contributors are returning from last year’s stout defense, including a pair of senior linebackers that most teams would love to have: Zach Watkins and Michael Wilhoite.

“I think this is one of the best defenses we’ve had since I’ve been here, ya know, in the four years I’ve played,” said Watkins. “We have guys returning from everywhere-guys with experience, guys with starting experience, guys with backup experience-I think coming in it’s going to be one of the best defenses.”

Schurig shares Watkins enthusiasm for the defense, and said that several defensive players had received attention from the NFL prior to the season. The Ichabods have sent two players to the pros in the past three years, both of whom (defensive tackle Trey Lewis and cornerback Cary Williams) were stars on the defensive side of the ball.

“We’ve had some attention in the spring,” said Schurig. “Brandon Jackson, a defense tackle for us, he’s a 300 pound defensive tackle that can really move. Eric Lawrence is a defensive end that was a senior last year, got hurt, so he has a sixth fall. He had some attention. He’s more of like a 3-4 outside linebacker type for us. He’s played D-end but he has that type of talent. Michael Wilhoite is an outside linebacker/strong safety type that has the physical tools to do that. Zach Watkins is just a great player. He can long snap so we’re hoping that gives him kind of an in [to the NFL]. He’s such a consistent long snapper but he should come away with the top tackles in the history of the school.”

Watkins, however, is more focused on having a successful final season at Washburn.

“I haven’t put any thought into [the NFL],” said Watkins. “I put a lot of work in this summer for my senior year. Let the chips fall where they may, as they say. Hopefully I’ll have a great season and see what happens from there.”