TACOMA, Washington - The 2017 Puget Sound football team has many new roles not just on the field, but off the field, as well. While student-athletes get acclimated to new positions or increased playing time, there's a new sense of leadership for the Loggers.
"There's been more leadership taking place, holding guys accountable," said senior quarterback Tanner Diebold. "That's been a point [Head Coach Jeff Thomas] is trying to make this whole camp."
"Leadership is definitely very important on our team," said junior defensive end Todd Blakely. "Stepping up not only for the younger players, but on campus in general."
Senior safety Max Washam notes that reinvigorated leadership can shift close games in the Loggers' favor.
"We go the talent, we might even have some more talent than last year," said Washam. "We just have to finish games, we have to come together as one."
Diebold has big shoes to fill, as he steps in under center following Hans Fortune's record-setting Puget Sound career. Fortune '17 set program standards for passing yards (3,045) and passing touchdowns (58) in a career. Diebold's skillset, however, differs from predecessors such as Fortune, Braden Foley, and Duncan White. Although he has a strong and accurate arm, Diebold was utilized in previous seasons as a change-of-pace quarterback. His agility and speed will only make one of the best passing offenses in the country all the more dynamic.
The 2016 Loggers ranked eighth in the nation in passing yards per game (349.8). The year before that, Puget Sound ranked seventh nationally (347.1).
Senior wide receiver Dustin Harrison is back after leading the 2016 Loggers with 73 receptions. He had four 100-yard receiving games last year. Aiden Santino returns at wide receiver following his impressive freshman season. He finished the 2016 campaign with 40 receptions, including six for touchdowns. Paul Thomas figures to get a bulk of the carries for the Loggers this fall, but he will also play an integral role in the passing game. Entering his fourth year as a starter, Jared Polonitza leads the push on the offensive line.
Puget Sound graduated All-West Region safety Jacob Wuesthoff '17, but the strength of the 2017 Loggers' defense is its depth. Washam recorded 22 tackles in nine games last year, and junior cornerback Zackary Teats returns from an injury that made him miss most of the 2016 campaign. Senior Brent McCoy, who also missed the 2016, returns to help the Loggers' pass defense. Standing at 6-4, Blakely looks to wreak havoc on opposing offensive linemen. Dwight Jackson, William Geary, and Zach Blair will lead the Loggers' linebacker core.
The 2017 season opens on Sept. 2 at La Verne. The first home game this fall is Sept. 9 against Occidental. The Loggers host Lewis & Clark Oct. 7 during Homecoming and Family + Friends Weekend. Click HERE for the full 2017 schedule.
Follow the Loggers on Instagram | @PSloggers
Follow the Loggers on Twitter | @PSloggers
Like the Loggers on Facebook | Facebook.com/PSloggers