The expectations will be at an all time high for the Laurier men’s football team next season.
Anything less than a playoff appearance will be considered a failure for the defending OUA champions.
With key players like Kwaku Boateng, Nakas Onyeka and Jalen Price potentially moving on to the CFL, things will only get harder for the Hawks. However, every year with departures come arrivals.
The 2017 recruits for the Hawks will be facing added pressure due to the success the team achieved this year.
Head coach Michael Faulds discussed what the Hawks look for while recruiting new prospects.
“Character is a big thing. When you’re only bringing in 25-30 people into your locker room every year, it’s important that they’re good character guys. We want them to be good students. Good guys with time management skills and ultimately, competitors,” he said.
It’s always a tough adjustment for rookies in their first-year, especially in a physical sport like football.
It is a difficult transition period and Faulds mentioned that patience is vital.
“They have to be mature and realize that as good as they are at 17 and 18, they’re going to be a totally different player in a couple of years. You’re now going to go against older players at other schools. Be patient, learn the system, learn the playbook and get in the weight room. It’s a progression and you need to climb a ladder before you become a great player,” he said.
The Hawks will be aspiring for a deep playoff run once again. The resilience and the underdog mentality was a key factor behind their success this year, but having that mentality across the entire roster again will be a challenge.
“We have 100 players on the roster and only about 47 dress for games. We just need to make sure everyone, not just the rookies, is coached up and well prepared before they even get a chance to dress,” Faulds said.
“We have so much competition at every position, so the people who dress on game days are the people we are confident in.”
With key defensive players leaving this year it will be very important for every player on the Hawks to be ready when their number is called. Depth and internal competition can do wonders for a team.
For the rookies, it will also be very important to not let the pressures of team expectations affect their play. Adjusting to a new level of play can be overwhelming for first-year players.