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Ryan Granberg ready to go

August 22, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Pavlov made his dogs salivate by showing them meat. You don’t need to be a psych major to make a university football coach drool like that — just show him a depth chart of the Queen’s Golden Gaels backfield and receiving corps.

Eight receivers who played last year are back, three of whom had 25 catches or more in 2012. There are four tailbacks, including one former all-Canadian, another guy who has never rushed for less than 100 yards in a game, and two players who have transferred back to Canada after playing at U.S. colleges.

It’s enough to make a guy reach for a bib, except for one thing.

“There’s only one football,” Queen’s Golden Gaels coach Pat Sheahan said. “That’s the problem.”

In the backfield, Ryan Granberg, the former conference rushing champ, appears to have regained his job, after missing the final two games of 2012 with a concussion.

“He’s had a pretty good camp,” Sheahan said. “He came back in great shape, his numbers were comparable to what he’s done in the past and he’s anxious to get going.”

“I think he’s primed for a great season.”

Besides Granberg, however, Jesse Andrews returns after back-to-back 100-yard games in the playoffs last year and transfers Daniel Heslop and Brendan Morgan are anxious for a piece of the action.

The newcomers, Sheahan said, “are in touch with what’s going on.”

“Heslop is definitely a Class A football player. Morgan is an outstanding football player in his own right. Jesse Andrews looks terrific … he’s a starter on other teams.”

Even in such company, freshman Jonah Pataki has managed to catch the coach’s eye. “He has not been a disappointment,” Sheahan said.

“We have some good talent there, there’s no question.”

Still, no matter how gifted, how eager, how fit, how well prepared they may be, you can’t play them all at once. Sheahan recognizes that it may not be easy to find a way to spread the work around in a way that keeps everyone satisfied.

“You know throughout the season things happen and having capable kids ready to go (is important),” he said. “There has been a very competitive edge in the backfield and that’s been good to see, especially for Granberg.

“He knows what he can do but when you come back for your final year and there are some good kids there, it put the jump back in his step.

“It’s been competitive. He knows he’s got a good player lined up beside him. The good news is this: When there’s other guys who can carry the ball, it makes everybody play better. It’s been a source of confidence for the offence to know there’s more than one ball carrier, that there are several capable guys to run the football.”

Those ball carriers will have benefit Sunday of having Josh Prinsen back in the lineup. The big tackle missed the first week of training camp but was practising for the first time Wednesday and Sheahan said he’ll play in the season opener at York.

Along the offensive line, the Gaels have missed players here and there throughout camp with small injuries or illness. “Which is a little frustrating,” Sheahan said, “but they’re coming back now.

“Prinsen practised yesterday and he was better than I thought.”

The word is not so good with tackle Nick Romanchuk, who injured a finger Sunday when it got tangled in an opponent’s jersey in a blocking drill.

“That doesn’t look promising,” Sheahan said. “On a guy that big it’s such a ridiculously small injury but by the same token, it’s significant.

“He’ll see the doctor this week and we’ll see how serious it is.”

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