Already the leader in U SPORTS passing three weeks into his rookie campaign, the canvas is still blank and filled with potential for UBC Thunderbirds' quarterback Garrett Rooker. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC-Mantoba Football Notebook 10.21.21 edition: The skinny on rookie QB Rooker, the return of Gavin Cobb, ‘Birds rising WR Robert Lutman & much more!

VANCOUVER — Fans of UBC Thunderbirds football have delighted in the potentially season-changing fourth-quarter of last Saturday’s rally from 23-0 down to beat the Regina Rams on the road 31-30 in overtime and move to 1-2 on the season.Yet this week’s Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.) visitor to Thunderbird Stadium, the No. 4-ranked Manitoba Bisons, showed […]

UBC rookie quarterback Garrett Rooker knows his team has to get off to quicker starts on offence as the Thunderbirds' Canada West season is set to hit its midway mark in its next game, Oct. 16 on the road against the Regina Rams (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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After red-zone & special teams struggles add up to home-opening loss to Huskies, UBC coach Nill resolute: “I am not ready to give up on the season, it’s a baptism by fire!”

VANCOUVER — On Friday, the calendar turned to October as the UBC Thunderbirds kicked off one of their latest home-openers on record.Yet in the aftermath of a 43-15 loss to the visiting, No. 9-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies before a sell-out crowd of 2,500 at the stadium, just the team’s second game of a shortened six-game Canada […]

UBC Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill knows that the Saskatchewan Huskies will bring an old-school mentality to the 'Birds home opener on Friday. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC football home-opener 2021: Young ‘Birds to get physical test from Sask. Huskies, says coach Nill: “They’re a tough, old-school program that plays the game like it’s the 50s, 60s and 70’s”

VANCOUVER — The more you play the Saskatchewan Huskies, the more things stay the same.That tweak on a classic cliche was so apropos this week, because when Varsity Letters chatted mid-week with UBC Thunderbirds’ veteran head coach Blake Nill, you could almost feel the need to check your figurative chin strap.Looking ahead to the ‘Birds […]

Prized UBC quarterback recruit Garrett Rooker eyes the scene downfield during throwing drills at UBC's 2021 fall training camp at Thunderbird Stadium. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC Football 2021: Postmarked ‘Texas’, Garrett Rooker emerges from ‘Birds deep talent pool to be named starting quarterback ahead of Saturday’s opener at Alberta!

VANCOUVER — Sometimes, stuff happens that makes you want to thank your lucky stars.For UBC Thunderbirds head football coach Blake Nill, one of those days was May 8 of 2020.“Some days are better than others,” wrote Nill that day on his official Twitter account in announcing that quarterback Garrett Rooker, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback out […]

UBC freshman receiver Jason Soriano spent the lost 2020 season honing his skills as a full-time pass-catcher for the Birds. Now, the ex-Vancouver College star is part of three-man receiving core head coach Blake Nill has nicknamed The Smurfs. Soriano digs in on a route during a fall camp session last week. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC Football 2021: Thunderbirds’ head coach Blake Nill dubs his diminutive, speedy receiver trio of Soriano, Phillips, Williams as ‘The Smurfs’ ahead of Saturday opener at Alberta!

VANCOUVER — As children of the 2000’s, you couldn’t blame a certain trio of UBC Thunderbirds’ receivers for being a little perplexed last week when head coach Blake Nill announced during a team gathering that he had discovered their perfect nickname.“I have these three guys who are all around 5-10 and they have burners,” explained […]

Seeing the forest through the football trees of the UBC offensive line, freshman running back Dane Kapler celebrates a big-picture focus which has brought him to Vancouver to both carry the pigskin and major in forestry. Oh yeah, he's also keeping an eye on dad Gabe's San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC’s Dane Kapler: How the ‘Birds freshman running back and son of San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler found the vision to blaze a football path to Vancouver!

VANCOUVER — Dane Kapler has always been able to see the forest for the trees.In an allegorical sense, there he was Tuesday, the UBC freshman running back and forestry major taking a hand-off at the team’s fall camp and bursting through a seam from behind the Thunderbirds’ thick-stumped offensive line.And, of course, in a twist […]

Saskatchewan Huskies' Nelson Lokombo (left), the former W.J. Mouat Hawk, and U SPORTS' 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, is being touted among the top players in the upcoming CFL draft. (Photo property of Saskatchewan Huskies athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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W.J. Mouat’s Nelson Lokombo: Why a position switch “switched” his perspective and elevated Saskatchewan Huskies’ star DB in eyes of CFL scouts!

He’d enjoyed a Canadian Football Hall of Fame career along the offensive line of the Montreal Alouettes, and now, a few years after returning to his alma mater to begin a new one along the sidelines, he was being elevated to the role of head coach of the Saskatchewan Huskies.Yet as Scott Flory is the […]

UBC linebacker Ben Hladik doing what he does best against the Alberta Golden Bears. (Photo by Bob Frid property of UBC athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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Big Ben’s time: UBC’s Ben Hladik, part of ‘Birds star-studded linebacker class, stops at nothing to impress pro football scouts!

Everything you may have already imagined about the voluminous work ethic of UBC Thunderbirds’ starting middle linebacker Ben Hladik is true.And in case you had any doubt, there’s nothing like a first-hand account from an otherwise non-descript day in the dead of winter, when no one was supposed to be watching, to stoke the fires […]

UBC Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill feels so much of the team's 2021 identity will stem from the team's play along its trenches. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)
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VL podast 01.27.21: UBC head football coach Blake Nill on celebrating the tradition of Blue & Gold and the promise of a 2021 fall kick-off!

The UBC football nation, just like all of the other tight-knit, tradition-laden programs across Canada, mourned the loss of 2020 university football season. Thunderbirds’ head coach Blake Nill, however, is excited and hopeful for the prospects of a 2021 campaign… that much is obvious as the three-time Vanier Cup national championship-winning coach joins host Howard […]

His eyes trained down the field, late Simon Fraser quarterback Bernd Dittrich is captured in an iconic pose. It's now been a decade-plus since the Austrian native passed away at the tender age of 21. His memory lives on through a scholarship endowment fund put in place by the SFU Football Alumni Association. (Photo by Ron Hole property of Simon Fraser athletics 2020. All Rights Reserved)
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Simon Fraser’s Bernd Dittrich: A decade-plus after the iconic quarterback’s passing, a former teammate pays homage to his remarkable spirit and courage

ABBOTSFORD — Mathis Baumbach remembers how he never felt like a stranger in the summer of 2008, even though he had flown halfway around the world from Germany to join his new teammates on the Simon Fraser University football team.And all of that was due to the presence of one of the most iconic athletes […]