Cedar City • Who replaces Brad Sorensen?
That’s the big question as Southern Utah football coach Ed Lamb and his team open spring practice Tuesday.
Southern Utah’s 2013 football schedule
Aug. 29 » at South Alabama
Sept. 7 » vs. Fort Lewis
Sept. 14 » at Washington State
Sept. 21 » at Sacramento State
Sept. 28 » at Northern Colorado
Oct. 5 » vs. UC Davis
Oct. 12 » vs. Portland State
Oct. 19 » at Eastern Washington
Oct. 26 » vs. Idaho State
Nov. 9 » at Weber State
Nov. 16 » at Montana State.
Lamb welcomes back six starters on offense, seven on defense and two specialists as the Thunderbirds attempt to improve on last season, when they finished 5-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big Sky Conference.
Lamb’s most challenging job will be finding a replacement for Sorensen, his record-setting quarterback.
Sorensen, an expected mid-to late-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, ended his three-year collegiate career as Southern Utah’s all-time leading passer. The list of those hoping to replace him as the Thunderbirds’ starter is a long one.
It includes senior Jacob Allie, who has played fullback and tight end but will move to quarterback this spring; redshirt freshman Aaron Cantu, a transfer from East Los Angeles College who led the nation in passing yards last season; University of Utah transfer Mitch Dahlen; freshmen Tannen Pedersen and Mike Sharp, who signed in 2010 and has returned from a church mission; and walk-on Kenny Schmidt.
Among the returning starters are sophomore linebacker Zak Browning and sophomore defensive end James Crowser. They were Football Championship Subdivision freshmen All-Americans last season.
Browning averaged 11.6 tackles per game. He had 18 tackles in a victory at Montana — the most by a freshman since Arkansas State’s Steve Smith in 2002.
Crowser finished the season with 7.5 sacks, which was a school record for a freshman and ranked second in the Big Sky. He finished with a total of 61 tackles.
Offensively, senior Fatu Moala leads a receiving corps that returns intact. He had 65 receptions for 810 yards and nine touchdowns and was a second-team all-conference selection.
Southern Utah’s kicking game will be a strength, thanks to the return of seniors Colton Cook and Brock Miller. Cook made 19 of 22 field-goal attempts and was named to the Big Sky’s all-conference second team. Miller averaged 43.3 yards per punt, which ranked 11th in the country.
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