HOUGHTON – When it comes to the Michigan Tech backfield, depth is not a concern; the Huskies return all of their leading rushers from last season’s team. So with the depth in place, the major question is: Will a feature back rise from Michigan Tech’s stable of running backs?
“The thing is, we haven’t had a feature back,” Michigan Tech head coach Tom Kearly said. “We had three guys or so that all had chances. Whether one of them steps up and takes over as a featured back, we’ll see how that works out in the fall.”
Senior Kevin Miller was Michigan Tech’s leading rusher in 2015, gaining 593 yards on 123 carries; junior John Williams accumulated 498 yards on 113 attempts and senior quarterback Brandon Cowie ran for 414 yards on 119 rushes.
While Miller has missed time this spring with a leg injury, Williams and junior James Henderson have had quality spring practices, so far.
“Both (Williams and Henderson), plus Miller, have had good springs,” Kearly said. “We look forward to being able to put a quality back on the field.”
Every person who recorded one of the 465 rushing attempts last season returns in 2016. At fullback, junior Alex Sherbinow – an All-GLIAC Second Team selection – excelled in short-yardage situations and led the Huskies with nine rushing touchdowns.
Cowie (1,828 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, nine interceptions) is one of five Huskies who are sitting out the spring due to the six-year NCAA eligibility rule, which will allow him to play in the fall season. This has given senior Isaiah Hackney, junior Jake Brown and freshman Garrett Young more action at quarterback this spring.
“They’ve been able to get more reps at the “Q” with Cowie not being there and that’s helped them,” Kearly said of his quarterbacks.
Besides Andrew Clark, Michigan Tech returns every player who caught a pass, including Cowie’s favorite target: senior wide receiver David Walter. Walter led the Huskies with 51 catches for 576 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
“David’s a consummate pro,” Kearly said. “Everything he approaches is professionally done well. With his schoolwork, he’s like an Academic All-American-type kid.”
The Huskies run the majority of their offense from three-wide offensive sets. With Walter and the return of junior Ian Fischer (30 catches, 392 yards receiving, two touchdowns) taking the top two receiver spots, the third is currently filled by junior David Falish. Sophomore Kevin Kirkland and freshmen Jacob Wenzlick and Ben Hartley are expected to keep compete for playing time at the other wide receiver positions.
“If we went No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on the depth chart right now, it would probably be Walter, Fischer and then Falish,” Kearly said. “And we think Ben Hartley has a real big upside at wide receiver.”
Senior tight end Ian Wienke (30 receptions, 290 yards receiving) is another Husky who is sitting out this spring, which has opened up the battle for the No. 2 tight end position between junior Aidan Wienke – Ian’s brother – and sophomore Doug Fabry.
“We have plenty of young guys who are able to see a lot of action this spring,” Kearly said.
The Michigan Tech Spring Game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sherman Field. The game is open to the public and admission is free.