Former Cornhusker transfers to Baker
KANSAS CITY, MO. -- If the line had appeared in the transactions on the Scoreboard page, it might have read something like this:
BAKER -- Sent DE Andrew Patch to Nebraska to complete deal for WR Tyrell Spain.
Universities cannot legally swap football players, of course, but the Patch-Spain personnel switch does have a player-to-be-named-later ring to it.
Baker University football coach Mike Grossner revealed the unusual swap during the Heart of America Athletic Conference coaches kickoff luncheon Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
"Hopefully," Grossner said with a smile, "we got the best of that trade."
For awhile last spring, it appeared Spain and Patch would be teammates.
Spain, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver, caught 46 passes and scored eight touchdowns at a San Diego community college last fall. For two years prior to that, Spain had been a defensive back at Nebraska, starting two games for the Cornhuskers in 2005.
"The reason he came to Baker," Grossner said, "is because he wanted to be a wideout again."
Spain showed up on the Baldwin City campus in the spring, or about the same time Patch, a second-team All-HAAC performer as a sophomore last season, made Grossner's jaw drop.
"He told me he had always dreamed of playing at Nebraska," Grossner said. "He grew up in a small town in Nebraska, and an older brother had walked on there, and he said that's what he wanted to do."
So Grossner granted Patch, who had graduated from Shawnee Mission West High in Overland Park, his release. Today, the 6-0, 238-pound Patch is among NU's legion of walk-ons.
"He's good," Grossner said of Patch, "but they have great football players up there. We wished him well."
Grossner hadn't known about Patch's ties to Nebraska. In fact, he admitted he would have been less surprised if Free State High products Philip Weinmaster and Kyle Weinmaster had opted to transfer to NU because their dad, Kerry Weinmaster, was an All-Big Eight lineman for the Cornhuskers in the '70s.
Less surprised Grossner may have been, but he surely would have been doubly disappointed, too, because Philip has been a fixture in the middle of the Wildcats' defensive line for the last two seasons, and Kyle figures to make an immediate impact.
A first-team All-Sunflower League selection on both offense and defense for the Firebirds last autumn, the younger Weinmaster appears in no danger of a red-shirt freshman year.
"He'll probably start at defensive end," Grossner said. "I'll be very surprised if Kyle isn't playing right away."
Two other former Firebirds -- middle linebacker Danny Pike and fullback Jamie Resseguie -- are also expected to contribute as Baker seeks its first winning season since 2000.
"It's been a four-year plan and this is my fourth year," Grossner said. "We have 19 returning starters, and I feel pretty good about that. Will they all start? Probably not because we brought in 40 players."
Among Baker's best returnees are senior linebacker Micah Mason, Baker's only first-team all-league selection last season; defensive back Eric Allen; offensive tackle Andy Bibb; and punter Ryan Smith.
Also back is quarterback Mack Brown, who threw for 1,348 yards as a freshman after transferring from Colorado.
"I think we'll have more weapons for him to throw to," Grossner said. "Last year, I think he felt he had to make the big play, and this year he doesn't have to."
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who played for the Wildcats in the mid-1980s, will be inducted into the Baker Hall of Fame during the Oct. 20 game against Central Methodist.
BU players will eschew their traditional orange to don black jerseys and black pants for select games this fall.
Marcus Nolan, a transfer wide receiver who played at Graceland College two years ago, is a half-brother of Tyrell Spain.
Baker has added an 11th game, a non-conference clash with NCAA Div. II Missouri Western. The 'Cats will open against the Griffons on Sept. 1 in St. Joseph, Mo.
In the HAAC preseason coaches poll, the Wildcats were picked to finish eighth. Defending champion Missouri Valley is the preseason favorite.