Over the years Jerome Souers has learned to expect the unexpected.
In the spring Souers and the NAU football staff tinkered with their offensive scheme thinking former Chaparral High and University of Arizona quarterback Connor Brewer would be taking over this fall. Brewer changed course, again, opting to transfer to Virginia.
So, the Lumberjacks decided to start over in a different way naming freshman Case Cookus their starter for Saturday’s season opener at Stephen F. Austin. The 6’4″, 200-pounder beat out incumbents Kyren Poe and Jordan Perry who each took snaps last season. Perry is expected to miss the first two games.
The strong-armed Cookus will have a host of talented skill players around him. Some may argue the best in school history.
“I think we have eight or nine guys that can contribute right now,” Souers told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “That part is going to be fun to watch.”
The headliners at wide receiver are Dejzon Walker, Alex Holmes and Emmanuel Butler. Walker returns after missing all of 2014 due to injury. Holmes and Butler combined for nearly 900 yards and five touchdowns last fall. Add University of Washington transfer and former Hamilton High School star Kendyl Taylor to the mix, as well. Souers said Taylor will also work out of the backfield and play a big role on special teams in the return game. Senior Casey Jahn will be the workhorse at running back.
On the opposite side of the ball the ‘Jacks will look to attack slants and angles upfront while providing more effective work in the secondary.
“Getting our back end consistent in coverage, consistent in how we disguise coverage,” Souers explained to Cesmat. “Shaping those kind of roles for guys out there on the field. I think we have a chance to be as good a defense as we’ve had in years past.”
This weekend will be no small challenge in “the battle of the ‘Jacks,” taking on SFA in Nacodoches, Texas.
NAU, at least from a personnel standpoint, seems prepared for the challenge.