NWI players highlight Wabash football roster
By John Mutka Post-Tribune senior correspondent August 13, 2012 11:28PM
Updated: September 15, 2012 6:21AM
Judging from Wabash’s roster, the Little Giants could save Northwest Indiana football fans big bucks in gas money by transplanting home games to the Lake-Porter Area.
A quick count reveals 17 members from the area, including Post-Tribune offensive player of the year Mason Zurek (St. John), who rushed for a career total of 2,842 yards and 41 touchdowns at Andrean. The highly touted freshman joins a team which posted a 12-1 record and reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
All-American linebacker CJ Gum (North Judson), who was named the North Coast Conference defensive player of the year, has departed but defensive back Kyle Najar (Griffith), who was credited with 120 tackles in his 38-game career, has joined the coaching staff.
Najar will work with the linebackers, a corps which includes senior Kyle Bottos (Lowell). Bottos chipped in with 12 tackles in a part-time role.
Other area gridders who put up significant numbers for the defending NCAC champs are Zack Breuckman (Crown Point), a junior lineman credited with 12 tackles in eight games; and junior wide receiver James Kraus (North Judson), who caught 12 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
Also listed on the roster is sophomore lineman Nathan Brock (Chesterton), the team heavyweight. Mr. Big weighs in at 6-7, 370 pounds.
Wabash has been picked to win its seventh league title.
Indiana State, which visits Indiana on Sept. 1, is accustomed to opening against Big Ten competition. Last year the Sycamores introduced themselves with a 41-7 loss at Penn State, then bounced back with four straight victories to inspire a 6-5 record.
Players like wide receivers Jeff Burley, a four-year letterman from Calumet, and redshirt freshman Barry McCarter (Gary) hope to see some action. So does defensive lineman Andre Bigger (Michigan City), a redshirt junior who spent last season on the practice squad.
St. Francis (Ft. Wayne) returns leading receiver Aaron Knight (Chesterton) from a 9-3 season. Knight caught 47 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns. He also ranked fifth nationally in NAIA punt returns with a 14.6-yard average.
Free safety Taylor Brown (Chesterton) and middle linebacker Justin Juarez (Lowell) fortify the Cougars on defense. Brown contributed 56 tackles, including 30 solos. Juarez intercepted three passes against Taylor, returning one for a touchdown.
St. Francis expects dividends from senior Nathan Scully (Michigan City), a transfer from Tiffin University. Scully started as a freshman quarterback at Tiffin, but caught 20 passes and racked up 404 yards on kickoff returns in 2011.
Clark Mussman (Ogden Dunes/Portage) is a returning veteran at Western Michigan. Last season the junior tight end caught six passes for 31 yards and two touchdowns.
Bronco newcomers include center Nick Roach (Schererville/Mt. Carmel) and Ben Davisson (Rensselaer), a 6-6, 347-pound offensive lineman.
Eastern Michigan’s roster includes freshman linebacker Ike Spearman (St. John/Lake Central).