Archive for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Baker’s Grossner ready for football start

August 12, 2004

Sunday marks the first day of practice for Baker University first-year head football coach Mike Grossner. He, along with everyone else associated with the program, is ready.

"We're looking forward to Sunday," said Grossner. "We've been anticipating this as a coaching staff for quite some time. I think the players are antsy to get going, too."

Grossner, who took over the storied program in February, isn't sure how many players will be there Sunday when preparation for the upcoming season starts in earnest.

"I'd say there will be roughly around 90, give or take a few around that number," said Grossner. "In the NAIA, recruiting doesn't stop, so it's a never-ending process getting people enrolled. I should have a hard number by Friday.

"The incoming class will be around 42, with both freshmen and transfers," he said.

Grossner comes to Baker after a stint as assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and academic adviser at Western State University in Gunnison, Colo. Prior to that, he guided Glendale (Ariz.) Community College to the national title in 2000.

Now his aim is to return Baker to national prominence after a few lean years. The signs of that are already showing. One preseason poll has Baker picked to finish fifth in the Heart of America Athletic Conference despite its finish last year. That pick was based in large part to Grossner taking over the Wildcat reigns from John Frangoulis, who resigned in November.

Grossner is full of preseason optimism, but knows the test won't come until the opening game Sept. 4 against Evangel.

"I'll never have a true feel until the first game, but I feel good about out kids," he said. "Our returning team members have worked hard and the incoming class looks good. We've increased our team speed quite a bit.

"The first game Sept. 4 will be a good barometer," said Grossner. "Evangel is as good a team as there is. Offensively, with our experience, will be our strength. On defense, we've only got one and a half starters back, but I feel good about the squad. We've got some good athletes and good team speed."

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