The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks will kick-off their 2016 season in-state with a date in Tempe with ASU. Before that, there will be a few players to keep an eye on during fall camp who could be poised for big years. We know about the freshman phenom from last season, the now sophomore quarterback Case Cookus and his number one target Emmanuel Butler. Here are three more players to watch from NAU that could turn heads at camp leading up to game one on September 3rd:
Jacob Julian: As mentioned, NAU has one of the best offensive one-two punches that the Big Sky and the FCS has to offer in Cookus and Butler. But if they want to keep this high powered offense rolling, they need the protection! Insert the leader of the Lumberjacks’ 2016 offensive line, Jacob Julian. The 6-3, 300 pound left tackle from Bradshaw Mountain in Prescott is coming off his first full season as a full time starter in 2015 where he helped NAU to only its third 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard receiver, and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. He was one of four Lumberjacks to be named to the All-Big Sky Preseason Team going into 2016.
LeAndre Vaughn: A year ago at this time, Vaughn was a JUCO transfer headed up to Flagstaff trying to compete for a starting job on the NAU defense. He ultimately became a starter at one of the safety spots along side Eddie Horn who led the team in tackles and interceptions last year. As the 2015 season rolled on, Vaughn got better and better and has a lot of momentum coming off of how he finished the year. In the team’s home finale against Sacramento State, he recorded an interception and made eight tackles and registered a career-high 15 tackles in the season finale at Southern Utah. Horn has graduated so now it is the former Agua Fria high school product Vaughn, who will be one of the big leaders on this Lumberjack defense.
Elijah Marks: Emmanuel Butler burst onto the scene last season at wide receiver for the Lumberjacks amounting for over 1200 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. He as well as senior Kendyl Taylor look to be big threats once again on the outside for Cookus. With that said, teams may sleep on junior to-be Elijah Marks and will be in the wrong for doing so. The product of Desert Edge in Goodyear, AZ quietly was tied for second on the team in receiving touchdowns with six while hauling in 26 balls last season. The word from the NAU coaching staff is that Marks is expected to have a big season. With defenses that will game plan for Butler, Marks, who set an Arizona record for catches (113) and receiving years in a season (2,153) in 2013, is more than capable of making plays with the ball in his hands.