Backfield's lone returner will bolster Owls

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, August 12, 2005

Florida Atlantic fullback Aaron Sanchez carried the ball more often in the Owls' running game in the second half of last season and could be asked to play a bigger role in 2005.

He'll likely have to be asked only once.

Sanchez is happiest when he's running the ball.

"I've always considered myself a fullback/running back," said Sanchez, who had 38 carries for 173 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last season for FAU. "I can be a blocking back and run the ball, too."

Sanchez is the only returning starter in the Owls' backfield this season and is the leading rusher from 2004.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Sanchez had his best game last season vs. Edward Waters, when he rushed for 39 yards on eight carries and had two touchdowns.

FAU is hoping for more of the same from Sanchez this season.

"I would expect him to (get more carries) because he has matured," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "He's been pushing himself and pushing himself."

Although Sanchez likes to have his number called, he blocks well, too.

"He'll be a big part of the offense," said Owls running backs coach David Serna. "Having him back there gives us a new look because he can block and run the ball. He makes us a lot better as a unit."

That versatility ensures that Sanchez will be on the field a lot for the FAU offense, which is still trying to develop a halfback to carry the rushing load.

That's fine with Sanchez.

"I can do so many things and that's why I get so many opportunities," Sanchez said. "I just want to teach those young backs and show a good work ethic."

Noteworthy: Former FAU quarterback Jared Allen was re-signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being released last week. ... The Owls wore limited pads for Thursday's practice and will have their first full-contact workout today.