Football closes fall camp sessions

Ray Bressette

Wildcats return veteran experience, to equate to team leadership

The football team has concluded their 12-practice fall camp and will look ahead toward their 2014 season.Head coach Chris Ostrowsky said he’s seen enthusiasm from his players throughout the camp.

“I think our energy by far is something we’re really excited about right now,” Ostrowsky said. “We talk about bringing the juice everyday and understanding that everyday is one where you have to be going as hard as you can, and our players have really embraced that thought. At this point that’s the most positive thing going for us right now.”

NMU is coming off a 3-5 season, where sophomore quarterback Shaye Brown played in six games for the Wildcats. Brown was 94 for 184 in passing and threw for 1,194 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. (Anthony Viola/NW)
NMU is coming off a 3-5 season, where sophomore quarterback Shaye Brown played in six games for the Wildcats. Brown was 94 for 184 in passing and threw for 1,194 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. (Anthony Viola/NW)

The Wildcats held their 12 -practice fall camp from Thursday, Aug. 14 through Saturday, Aug. 23.

In the offseason, the team announced junior running back Wyatt Jurasin, junior linebacker Levi Perry, senior defensive lineman Trever Kruzel and senior wide receiver Marcus Tucker as the team’s captains for the season.

Ostrowsky said his defensive leaders will give the team a needed uplift.

“Our talent level has never been better,” Ostrowsky said. “I think we’ve always had good players, but now on the defense we have some really great guys up front. We’ve always said that in order to have a chance to win in this league, we have to have great symmetry up front. We’ve recruited depth, good size and very athletic players.”

The ’Cats will have 49 freshman on the team’s 92-man roster heading into the regular season.

Jurasin said the new additions to the team are fitting into the system well.

“The up and coming guys have some amazing talent,” Jurasin said. “This is the best recruiting class I’ve seen in my four years here at Northern.
We’re bonded already. It’s like a family. There’s no race here, no upperclassman or lower classman, it’s just one team.”

Jurasin, a Marquette native, led the Wildcats in rushing last season with 545 yards on 145 carries and five touchdowns.

Tucker led NMU receivers last year with 49 receptions, racking up  674 yards and four touchdowns.

Sophomore quarterback Shaye Brown is heading into his second season with the Wildcats, but his first as the starter in week one.

Brown began last season a redshirt freshman, but saw playing time in six games after injuries to senior quarterbacks Dustin Thomas and Cody Scepaniak.

Brown said he’s more prepared for his starting role this season.

“Last year I was really nervous and trying to catch up to everyone else,” Brown said. “This year I’m coming in more confident and prepared. I know the offense and the guys a lot better than I did as a freshman.

“It’s a lot better than getting thrown into the fire, and it’s going to be a lot easier.”

In six games last season, Brown completed 94 passes on 184 attempts, throwing for 1,194 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

Perry said he’s seen Brown progress his game over the last year.

“Shaye’s one of the most confident quarterbacks now that I’ve ever seen,” Perry said. “Last year, getting thrown into the fire like he did, that gave him a lot of experience. He’s not a young quarterback anymore, he’s entrenched. We’re behind him all the way and he’ll be great.”

NMU is coming off a 3-5 season and finished fourth in the North Division of the GLIAC.

The GLIAC preseason coaches poll, which is voted on by the 15 GLIAC head coaches, predicted NMU to finish in seventh out of eight in the North Division.

Brown said the team has higher expectations for them than the preseason polls give them.

“I think people are judging us off of what first year starters were doing last year,” Brown said. “They’re saying we didn’t do good last year,…but they’re not looking at it as we had a bunch of young guys last year who now have experience.”

The Wildcats will kick off their season at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 against Northwood University at the Superior Dome.