Alaskans take part in opening weekend (Football)

September 4, 2009

The college football season officially kicked off last night, but the first Alaska player at a major school won’t hit the field until this evening. And more will follow throughout the Labor Day weekend.

Palmer’s Jake Heun will christen the celebration tonight when his Hawaii Warriors host Central Arkansas.

On Saturday, teams featuring five Alaskans will be in action, including Idaho’s Daniel Hardy of Anchorage, UNLV’s Tate Knutson of Anchorage, Washington State’s Remy Martin of Anchorage, Tennessee’s Michael Odell of Kodiak and New Mexico’s Ryan Henderson of Anchorage.

On Sunday, Colorado State’s Cory Macon of Anchorage and the Rams take on archrival Colorado.

And finally, on Monday night a Miami squad that includes Kylan Robinson of Anchorage will play Florida State.

As many as nine Alaskans are on rosters of teams at major colleges – part of the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision – although BYU’s Eathyn Manumaleuna of Anchorage is sitting out while fulfilling the second year of his Mormon mission in Oklahoma City.

Here is a breakdown of each player:

Jake Heun

Name: Jake Heun
Hometown: Palmer
School: Hawaii
Position: Linebacker
Year: Junior
Height: 6-2
Weight: 250
Player notes: The former all-state player from Palmer (’06) was a redshirt last season after transferring from City College of San Francisco, where he earned all-region and all-NorCal honors. At Hawaii, he is listed as a backup middle linebacker. He wears jersey No. 5.

Name: Michael Odell
Hometown: Kodiak
School: Tennessee
Position: Wide receiver
Year: Sophomore
Height: 6-0
Weight: 211
Player notes: Everybody told him not to go, but Odell followed his heart. And now he’s on the practice squad, matching up with SEC players every day. “People say I made a mistake coming to Tennessee because I won’t play or I’m diving in above my head,” Odell told me recently. “But when you get a chance at something, you might as well take it. Might not get it again.”

Tate Knutson

Name: Tate Knutson
Hometown: Anchorage (East)
School: UNLV
Position: Wide receiver
Year: Junior
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
Player notes: This former all-state T-bird (’06) is looking to make an impact with the Rebels, although he shed his walk-on, special-teams player label by earning a scholarship last year and cracking the starting lineup in the season finale. This year he is listed at No. 2 on the depth chart, meaning his first collegiate reception is probably only one or two drives away for No. 81.

Daniel Hardy

Name: Daniel Hardy
Hometown: Anchorage (West)
School: Idaho
Position: Wide Receiver
Year: Junior
Height: 6-2
Weight: 211
Player notes: Hardy proved he could make the big play last year, now he’s trying to lock down a starting job. The man who made history with an 81-yard touchdown reception – the fifth longest in school history – is likely to improve on his 9-128-2 career numbers this year as one of the veterans battling for a spot at slot receiver. He wears jersey No. 88.

Remy Martin

Name: Remy Martin
Hometown: Anchorage (West)
School: Washington State
Position: Fullback
Year: Junior
Height: 6-2
Weight: 225
Player notes: This former all-state player from West (’06) is turning heads with his physical blocking ability, which just might land him more snaps that anyone expected before the start of practice. And who knows, maybe one day No. 48 will carry the ball in a goal-line situation.

Ryan Henderson

Name: Ryan Henderson
Hometown: Anchorage (Bartlett)
School: New Mexico
Position: Linebacker
Year: Junior
Height: 6-0
Weight: 225
Player notes: This transfer from San Jose City College joined the Lobos this season. He was a second-team all-state player at Bartlett (’06).

Cory Macon

Name: Cory Macon
Hometown: Anchorage (East)
School: Colorado State
Position: Defensive End
Year: Junior
Height: 6-6
Weight: 242
Player notes: A converted tight end, Macon has evolved into a regular contributor on the Rams’ defensive line despite limited playing time. Last year as a reserve he had a hand in 19 tackles (nine solo) and broke up two passes in 12 games. Look for big No. 24 to have an even greater impact this fall.

Kylan Robinson

Name: Kylan Robinson
Hometown: Anchorage (East)
School: Miami
Position: Linebacker
Year: Junior
Height: 6-1
Weight: 235
Player notes: Robinson was an all-state defensive player in Alaska before moving to Florida, where he switched to running back and rushed for 1,600 yards (including 402 in one game) as a senior. He moved back to defense when he arrived in Coral Gables, where he has played eight games (mostly on special teams) over the last two seasons.