Back to the backfield

The more things change, the more things start looking familiar. At least to O'Dea graduate Ty Eriks, who will be a senior in 2005 and playing for his third football coach.

Eriks has done everything that has been asked of him. He came in as a heralded fullback in O'Dea's punishing rushing attack, but only because he was unselfish enough to not demand to play tailback. Eriks is the consummate team player.

Rick Neuheisel brought him in with visions of playing him at tailback, but team need necessitated a move to fullback.

Then coaches felt that he should be tried at outside linebacker, and finally he was moved to defensive end. He found a home there where he started several games last season, and despite being a bit undersized to play in the trenches, he did what he always does – he gave it his all.

Now Eriks has another new head coach, a new position coach, and now once again, a new position.

As he goes through his final 6:30AM mat drill sessions of his Husky career, run by former Husky all-American Steve Emtman, Eriks does so as a fullback once again.

"Steve's a great guy," said Eriks with admiration about the guy that is cajoling and coaxing him through the conditioning drills at the crack of dawn. Eriks deeply respects Emtman's coaching abilities and ability to push players to their limits. "He'll get you to do things that you didn't think you could do."

Eriks recently met with Coach Willingham to talk with his new coach, one-on-one. "The first conversation was just about getting to know him, just about life".

Then "life as a fullback" came up. Willingham recruited Eriks to Stanford so he was well aware of his skills as a ball carrier. Ty was hoping to sign Eriks out of O'Dea as a tailback for the Cardinal, but it didn't happen.

And now four years later, Willingham sat on the other side of the table from Eriks and listened. "I initiated the conversation," said Eriks about another position change. "It looks like it's going to happen."

Eriks has spent the winter months working on his offensive skills so he'll be ready in the spring to take over Zach Tuiasosopo's former role as the inside thumper and goal line pounder.

Eriks, who carries an impressive 3.9 GPA, is confident that he can handle the role. He's been doing a lot of exercises to improve his hands. "They're fine, I've been catching the ball for about a month and a half now," said Eriks of his potential to be a receiving threat in Tim Lappano's new offense.

Eriks has a feeling that some of the younger players are getting ready to break out and start making their marks as early as next year. "Watch for some of those offensive linemen. They are young but they're getting stronger and doing well. Keep en eye out for ‘Dre Simpson," added Eriks.

Simpson is another player that may get a look as on offensive threat this spring. The idea of having a 6-2 speedy and physical target to stretch the field has to be intriguing to the Husky coaches.

Eriks will compete with Luke Kravitz and James Sims for playing time at fullback this year. He provides a bit more size at the position. And though he's excited about the move back to offense, he does miss his former position coach, Randy Hart.

"I miss him to death. He's my guy," said Eriks of the man that the defensive linemen all dread when two-a-days come around.

That was a first. In all of our years of being on the internet and in print, we have never heard of a player missing Randy Hart before they had graduated and left the program.

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