BURNABY — Back in the spring, the Simon Fraser Clan were a team in search of a starting running back.
On Saturday, as the team wrapped up its fall camp atop Burnaby Mountain with an energy-filled scrimmage on Terry Fox Field, all questions had seemingly been answered.
Not only has the transformation of sophomore Mason Glover (5-9, 180, Covington (Wash)-Kentwood) from cornerback to running back gone about as smoothly as Clan head coach Thomas Ford could have hoped, Saturday’s scrimmage nailed home the point that the position’s frontline depth has in effect been doubled with the emergence of another quality freshman.
Solomon Hines, a 6-foot-1, 180-pounder from Kent (Wash.)-Kentridge High who spent last season in Florida at Bethune-Cookman University, opened eyes more than any player on the field with his instinctive, speed-fuelled runs.
Highlights of the scrimmage offensively?
Starting quarterback Justin Seiber threw a touchdown pass to senior Kester Iwunze, while Hines showcased elite speed and juking ability as he rushed for a 45-yard touchdown.
Saturday’s scrimmage concluded with Ford reminding his players of the challenge that awaits when Simon Fraser opens the season on the road against Div. 1 Portland State this coming Saturday (2 p.m.).
And when asked about the state of his offensive backfield, Ford loved not only the abilities of Glover and Hines, but the fact that the two share a gridiron lineage which extends back to their early childhood.
“They played youth football together and they were shake-and-bake back in the day,” smiled Ford. “And, they played high school football against each other.”
Hines is a flat-out speed merchant. He clocked a laser-timed 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has a PB in the 100m of 10.76 seconds, and he closed out his high school sports career in the spring of 2018 by winning the Washington 4A 200-metre sprint title in a time of 21.65 seconds.
“Getting Solomon here this fall was a big boost for our offence,” said Ford. “Obviously he’s got legitimate speed.”
So much so that he will not only extend GNAC defences, but he will also run in the fast lane this spring when he joins the Clan’s track team.
Yet the road he’s traveled hasn’t exactly been one clean sprint up Gaglardi Way.
Last season he went to Bethune Cookman, a Div. 1 FBS program in Daytona Beach, to both play football and run track.
He struggled with his grades, he readily admits, and thus wasn’t able to qualify as a varsity athlete, yet he refused to let that stop him, boosting his standing in the classroom, and then finding out from Glover, whom he calls his brother, that there could be a spot for him at SFU.
“I got my GPA up to 3.6,” Hines says with pride. “Then my brother Mason introduced me to coach (Ford) and then he saw my film and my track times. They said ‘we need him up there’ so I got recruited. Later, I was introduced to the track coach (Brit Townsend), and I got a scholarship from her, too.”
From Washington to Florida to B.C., the road has been arduous, and that’s why that touchdown run felt so good.
“Ooh, it felt like a dream to be honest,” Hines said afterwards. “It’s been a while since I have been able to make plays and just get loose. I feel really ready for next week.”
Hines turned heads Saturday, but Glover was solid, too, and with the improvements up front along the offensive line, the coaching staff if excited about making some headway in a part of the game that wasn’t able to take pressure off the passing game last season.
“We’ve got Solomon’s speed and an all-purpose guy like Mason Glover, who can catch the ball very well, has very good vision and very good quickness,” said Ford. “(Mason) really runs behind his pads. He is a really physical type, so those two will help our running game together. Put them behind an improved line and we should be able to get some creases.”
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