USask Huskies present and future on display at 2024 Dogs’ Breakfast fundraiser

Click to play video: 'U Sask. Huskies celebrate present and future of program with 2024 Dogs’ Breakfast event'
U Sask. Huskies celebrate present and future of program with 2024 Dogs’ Breakfast event
WATCH: Headlined by Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Payton, the 2024 Dogs' Breakfast fundraiser previewed the incoming class of recruits for the USask Huskies football team – May 2, 2024

Over a 24-hour span, University of Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Scott Flory has relished the chance to pick the brain of a Super Bowl champion and one of the NFL‘s most well-known personalities on the sideline.

He hopes the conversations with Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton will trickle down to his players this year.

“A Super Bowl champion, head coach of the Denver Broncos being here is phenomenal,” Flory said. “He is as advertised, he is who he is. We’re having dinner last night and spending hours just telling stories and asking questions. The wealth of knowledge in his brain is unbelievable and he’s just such a great man. We couldn’t be more happy and proud, I’m a huge Sean Payton fan.”

Payton served as the headliner for this year’s Dogs’ Breakfast at Prairieland Park for the Huskies program, flying into Saskatoon to share stories about his career in football as part of raising funds for Huskies scholarships down the line.

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As is tradition every year, the Huskies were able to introduce their 21 new recruits to the sold-out crowd of 1,400 spectators on Thursday morning — a class that has been built on size and athleticism, according to Flory.

“You saw a lot of six-foot-four, six-foot-five, six-foot-six (players),” Flory said. “Long, lean athletes. Guys that can run and hit, play the game the way we want it to be played. First and foremost, they’re outstanding young men. You talk about character, you talk about culture, you got to get the right people in the building and we think that we’ve got some winners here.”

Click to play video: 'Graduating seniors depart U Sask. Huskies program on home ice at nationals'
Graduating seniors depart U Sask. Huskies program on home ice at nationals

The Huskies are coming off a Canada West semi-final loss to the Alberta Golden Bears last fall, a rare step back for the program after four straight trips to the Hardy Cup since 2018 and three conference championships.

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Linebacker Nick Wiebe was part of two of those Hardy Cup wins, transferring to the program from the Oregon Ducks of the NCAA and eventually capturing Canada West defensive player of the year honours last season.

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Tuesday’s festivities brought back early memories of entering the Huskies family, however, as Wiebe remembered the excitement and nervousness of walking across the stage.

“My first Dogs’ Breakfast I got introduced up there just like they did,” Wiebe said. “It’s such a special feeling to have Coach Flory up there to introduce you and hand you your jersey. You’re going from high school to university, it’s kind of a rite of passage to go up there and get your jersey.”

Wiebe is coming off being selected 12th overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2024 CFL Draft this week, one of three Huskies to be picked, with George Idoko and John Kourtis heading to Calgary and Hamilton, respectively.

For incoming wide receiver Kyle Conteh, it was a reminder of the possibilities that could be on the horizon for him and his recruiting class.

“It felt amazing with so many people watching you,” Conteh said. “Other people who were greats did this, even the people who just got drafted, like Nick Wiebe, they did this. Just knowing that I have the opportunity to also be one of those people that kids look up to just feels so cool.”

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The Huskies newcomers weren’t the only ones to receive their jerseys, as Wiebe was brought on stage alongside Roughriders head coach Corey Mace and general manager Jeremy O’Day.

Wiebe was then given his first uniform as a member of the Roughriders organization, with the team giving him the same number 43 that he’s worn throughout his time with the Huskies.

“I thought I was just going up there for a ‘Hey, how are you?’ to shake some hands and kiss some babies,”  Wiebe said. “When they pulled the jersey out and I saw my number on it … I’ve worn this number for a long time now and to see the personalization of the jersey is just so special. It’s a special moment for my family and I.”

The Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation delivered a cheque of $200,000 to the USask program to help fund scholarships, while the Huskies announced plans to refurbish the team’s clubhouse in the future with funding coming from longtime donors Ron and Jane Graham.

Reflecting on the message Payton brought to the recruits and Huskies organization, Flory said one piece of advice will stick with him this year for the team’s ability to overcome obstacles in their way.

“Don’t leave the building, you’ll end up in the right room,” Flory quoted. “I think that’s an absolutely spot-on message for these young men. You’re going to face adversity — you might not start, you might get injured, things are going to happen but you got to fight through it. You got to find that grit, that resiliency and just forge on.

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“I think that was a great message that I’m taking away and that I’m going to be reiterating to our team.”

Four days of spring rookie camp now await the Huskies and their recruits, like Conteh, who is coming off a standout season with the Riffel Royals last year.

Wanting to compete for a Vanier Cup down the line, the Regina product said he’s ready to ride the energy of Thursday’s introduction to the program and become part of the Huskies fabric.

“It just makes it so much more real that you can be the next guy,” Conteh said. “You just got to put in the work, put in the grind, follow the program, stay the course and that could be you one day too. It feels great knowing that it’s a reality now.”

The Huskies will run practice with their new recruits on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before ending spring camp with a scrimmage at Griffiths Stadium at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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