‘We’ve got that grown-man strength to go play’: Huskies defensive line redesigned for 2021 – Saskatoon | The Canadian News

At six feet four inches tall and 250 pounds, Riley Pickett is an imposing force.

The third-year Huskies defensive lineman has spent his tenure with the dogs terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, running backs or anyone in their hands.

During his three-year career as a Huskie, Pickett was part of a monstrous defensive line that consisted of himself, Evan Machibroda, Nic Dheilly, and Tristan Koronkiewicz.

Now that the veterans have graduated, it’s Pickett’s turn to lead.

“It’s been a little different, sure, because I’ve always had, you know, guys to lean on,” Pickett explained. “This year has definitely been a bit of a learning curve, taking over the exclusive captaincy of the D-line and stuff.

“But, we also have a really good group of guys who are veterans on the team, we have that grown-up strength to go play.”

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“He’s fulfilling that leadership role that Evan Machibroda had,” said head coach Scott Flory. “He has been doing a great job so far.”

Although the D line will have many new faces starting this season, they are not new to the show – many have played as many or more seasons than Pickett.

“There will be different bodies there,” Flory said. “But the boys who are there have existed, they have played a lot of football. They are not fresh out of high school; this is not the first year for them. “

One of those players who has earned a spot to take on first-team representatives is fourth-year lineman Nathan Cherry, who has spent his career with the Huskies predominantly as a backup.

“It’s been kind of a punctual rotator,” Flory explained. “Now that he’s in that full-time position, (he’s) more than ready to fill the void.”

“I learned a lot from those guys, I have a good D-line coach,” Cherry said. “I feel ready to step in and take that early role and hopefully do it really well.”

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The bond shared between the two linemen is one that Cherry hopes to see continued growth over the course of next season.

“I’ve actually been a Huskie longer than he has,” Cherry said. “So, I have to see him come in and play those roles and learn from his game and he has learned from my game.

“We feel that our games complement each other very well, we are both physical players, so we feel that we will be able to tighten our pockets well.”

The determined pool of new starters has been a welcome sign for Pickett, who has used it to give himself an extra boost throughout camp.

“We definitely have bigger, stronger and faster guys,” Pickett explained. “Everyone’s work ethic has really motivated me to keep pushing myself and expanding my own game as well.”

Even with the change in defensive line, the man running the show on the sidelines has been impressed with what he has seen throughout camp and has high expectations for next season.

“We’re going to trust those guys up front to make sure they get the pressure and make the quarterbacks nervous,” Flory said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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