Local Idaho football recruits like Erickson

  • Mike Cane<br>For the Enterprise
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:26am

Shiloh Keo’s first reaction was shock, rapidly followed by concern.

Just five days after signing an NCAA letter of intent to play football for the University of Idaho, the Archbishop Murphy High senior learned — along with the rest of the world — that Idaho head coach Nick Holt resigned to become defensive line coach for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

Holt and his staff loved Keo’s ability, but Keo wondered: Would a new head coach see things differently?

“It was a total shock. It came out of nowhere,” said Keo, recruited as a defensive back and one of three local players who signed with Idaho. (Mariner running back/return specialist Raymond Fry and Edmonds-Woodway place-kicker/punter Grady Harmon are the others.)

But Keo’s mood lifted Feb. 8 when Idaho named Everett native and proven collegiate winner Dennis Erickson as Holt’s replacement. Erickson, a 1965 Everett High grad, was Idaho’s head coach from 1982 to 1985 and later won two national championships at Miami. He also had successful runs at Wyoming, Washington State and Oregon State. Erickson also coached the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

“I don’t think it (changes) my plans” to play for Idaho, Keo said of the coaching change. “I just got to earn my position and … do enough to catch (Erickson’s) eye.

“Everyone knows that Dennis Erickson is a great coach,” Keo added, “and he’s done great things for all the communities he’s coached in.”

Harmon and Fry shared similar reactions.

“It was a bit of a surprise but I’m not too worried about it,” Harmon said. “He’s got all the credentials (and he) turned several (previously struggling college) programs around.”

“I was (surprised),” Fry said, “but now I’m excited to play for such an experienced guy.”

As of Feb. 9 the three players had not yet talked to Erickson, but various Idaho assistants had called to reassure them. No one among Idaho’s 16-player 2006 recruiting class has asked to be released from their scholarships, Idaho athletics spokeswoman Becky Paull said.

Erickson, twice an All-Big Sky Conference quarterback at Montana State, has a career college coaching record of 145-56-1 and led his teams to the postseason in 14 of 17 seasons. He has been called one of the collegiate game’s top offensive strategists.

Mariner coach John Ondriezek believes Erickson’s arrival could greatly benefit the shifty Fry, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound head-turner who rushed for 1,654 yards (8.6 yards per carry) and 27 touchdowns as a senior.

“The type of spread offense that (Erickson) runs is very well suited for (Fry’s) ability,” Ondriezek said. “It will take advantage of Raymond’s speed.

“The expertise and the excitement,” added Ondriezek, “that (Erickson) will bring — I think the community will be (thrilled).”

Mike Cane writes for The Herald in Everett.

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