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College football: QB biggest question for SUU as spring practice starts

Published March 25, 2013 12:43 pm

SUU football • The Thunderbirds finished with a 4-4 record in the Big Sky last season.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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.

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. —

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.