Focusing in on 2009

With LOI Day complete and the new recruits signed, now turns our focus back on the team that will be assembled for Spring Drills in a couple months. There are several updates with the Vandal roster as Idaho's improving depth allows players to switch positions in 2009, settling in where they can have the biggest impact instead of where they are most needed to provide depth.

It has taken three recruiting cycles and three years of coaching continuity, but the Vandal team is beginning to exhibit signs of healthy depth for the first time in years. The quarterback depth chart will have serious competition, the wide receiver depth chart has a maturing group with years of experience under their belts, and the defensive line has it's healthiest numbers in years.

It has been a long process getting to this point.

Now, some of Idaho's top recruits who have worked in a support role to provide depth at several positions in the past can focus their attention on the coming season and their new, dedicated roles.

Ashley to wide receiver: Few players on the team have sacrificed as much as junior-to-be Quin Ashley has the last two years. One of the gems of the 2007 recruiting class, Quin has been moved to at least four different positions during '07 and '08 to provide desperately needed backup at quarterback, several defensive back positions, and multiple wide receiver positions. A gifted athlete, Ashley will finally be given the opportunity to focus on a single position this year, locking in at wide receiver for the 2009 season. Anticipation will be high for the athlete who picked Idaho over TCU and Colorado State, and has put his team's needs in front of his own expectations - the true definition of a "team player."

Ferguson to defensive end: Expectations were huge for highly touted 3-star recruit Andre Ferguson who signed with Idaho in 2007 as one of the gems in Coach Akey's first class. Ranked 39th nationally as a high school senior linebacker (originally committed to Arizona State), Ferguson was projected as an impact player at linebacker or defensive end at the collegiate level. He has floated between LB and DE his first two years, but his strength and frame are ideal for the DE position and he spent much of last season adjusting to the battle in the trenches. The sophomore-to-be will be focusing on defensive end this spring and next fall, and expectations are rising for the 6-3, 225-pound athlete.

Brown to cornerback: An athlete out of Fort Lauderdale (Florida), Steven Brown committed to Idaho in 2006 in Dennis Erickson's one season in Moscow and grayshirted the season (his high school team had a astounding 11 athletes sign with Division 1A programs). The following January he enrolled in Coach Akey's first class and began working immediately with the wide receiver unit. Then last season injuries devastated the Vandal defensive backfield and Brown moved over to cornerback at the end of the season. What the Vandal coaching staff discovered was that Brown's best position could be a ball-hawking cornerback in the defensive backfield. This spring he will be switching to a black jersey and working with the Vandal D at corner.

Cowan to punter: Replacing All-American punter T.J. Conley will be virtually impossible, but the Vandals believe they have found a replacement in redshirt freshman Bobby Cowan (6-4, 215). For a remarkable three consecutive years (2005, 06, and 07) Cowan was a First Team Class 4A AP All-State selection as a high school punter in the state of Washington - impressive by any standard. He was also named to Jim Stefani's National list of Top 28 punters for the Class of 2008. And, like Conley, Cowan also was a starter at quarterback for his Evergreen high team.

Farquhar expected to start at kicker: Grayshirt freshman Trey Farquhar has joined the team this spring and will be expected to take over for departed All-WAC and Idaho record-setting field goal kicker Tino Amancio. The freshman comes in as a highly rated prospect with a truckload of honors following a stellar high school career.

Dugan in for spring: The other grayshirt athlete who will be joining the program this spring is 6-4, 260-pound defensive tackle Larry Dugan out of Gahr High School (Cerritos, CA). With his size Dugan will likely get looks at several positions on the Vandal defensive line.

GONE FOR 2009: This week during the Letter of Intent news conference Coach Akey "officially" announced that two players from last year's defense would not be on the team next fall. Linebacker Justin Allen has transferred closer to home at Rice University, and defensive end / linebacker Jonathan Faraimo will not be suiting up for the Vandals next fall. Both reportedly left the program for "personal" reasons.

SEASON TICKET PACKAGES OUT: This will easily be the most exciting season of football ever in the Dome - especially from the standpoint of the program's who will be visiting the Dome - as Idaho welcomes the following teams to the Palouse this fall:

Colorado State (Mountain West Conference)
San Diego State (Mountain West Conference)
Fresno State
Louisiana Tech
Utah State

It is the first time ever Idaho has hosted six Division 1A teams in the Dome, and marks the beginning of several home-and-home series with teams from the Mountain West and Mid-American Conferences.

Also new for this season are several payment plans available to purchase the season ticket packages, so you will want to make arrangements now for the plan that best suits your needs.

Finally, with the work planned to update and modernize the Dome - work beyond the much-anticipated $10 million face lift and Life-Safety upgrades that are starting in March - a $20 "facility fee" is added to each season ticket. The funds generated from this fee will be put directly into the Kibbie Activity Center to continue enhancing the game day experience and fund the recently approved renovations.

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