I was back in Omaha on business when Paul Homer announced that he was going to attend UW. I was speaking with some very knowledgeable Cornhusker fans who told me that Washington had picked up quite the football player. Paul of course was born to be a Husker, but there wasn't room on a team that was in the middle of switching to a West Coast based offense. The Huskers thought he was a step slow for LB, and they didn't need another FB, so Nebraska's loss was Washington's gain.
Paul's cousin is married to ex Husky lineman Aaron Dalan, so through that grapevine the Washington coaching staff heard about Paul and offered one of the more prolific HS players in Nebraska history. Paul is a legend back in Omaha, he just dominated games when he was in HS, and he immediately earned playing time at Washington on special teams. I still shake my head that Bill Callahan was senseless enough to let this kid leave the state of Nebraska, just another reason that he lost his job to Bo Pellini.
Paul is in his third season at UW is completely entrenched as the starting FB, and the leader of UW special teams. Paul is a very hard worker and a dream to coach according to UW RB Coach Steve Gervais. His veteran leadership is really important this year because the Huskies have seven players with limited experience vying to play beside him at TB. Having Paul at FB is like having an extra coach on the field during practice and games. He knows the playbook by heart, and is an expert at getting the young kids lined up correctly as they swim through the playbook.
The thing we all like about Paul is his blocking. He was a big reason that Louis Rankin became the first back at UW in over a decade go over 1000 yards in rushing. He also is a very comforting presence for Jake Locker as he is a great lead, and pass blocker. Think of Homer as Jakes personal bodyguard in the backfield. Homer just may be ready to emerge as the best overall FB in the conference this season. His blocking is superb, and he can really move the pile in short yardage situations when he is called on to carry the ball.
The one thing that has been missing so far has been receiving out of the backfield. I feel Homer is an excellent target to concentrate on in 2008. He is like a "Mack Truck" in the secondary on the rare occasions he gets a chance to catch a pass. Hopefully coach Lappano can get the ball in his hands more this season because he is a great change up that can keep a defense honest.
Keep a close eye on Paul Homer this season when you are watching the game, and appreciate all the little things he does to make the offense run better. He isn't going to run for 1000 yards, and he isn't going to catch 30 passes, but he is going to help create the opportunity for a young offense to click in 2008 by doing all the unnoticed things well.