By GREG LAUDANI
UNH quarterback Sean Goldrich has spent a chunk of the last three weeks running all-out sprints, flipping tires and doing yoga.
With the offseason now in full swing, the junior is holding nothing back as he prepares for his final season under center for the Wildcats.
“I’m excited to get back out there for my last shot,” Goldrich said. “It’ll be so nice to share that experience with my teammates.”
The quarterback missed five games last season with a Grade II MCL sprain he suffered against Richmond on Sept. 20. Senior Andy Vailas filled in and won every game he started in Goldrich’s absence.
Goldrich returned on Nov. 8 and led UNH to a 41-14 thumping of Rhode Island before helping his team advance all the way to the FCS semifinals for the second straight year — and second time in program history.
The injury put a scare in Goldrich, who thought it was more serious when he first hurt his knee. He said he is going to do whatever it takes this offseason to prevent missing time again next season. Eating right is one of the quarterback’s top priorities as he readies for the 2015-16 season.
“This year I have to take my preparation to another level,” Goldrich said. “I have to take my nutrition and flexibility more seriously. I want to play every game and I don’t want to go through that [being injured] again.”
According to UNH head coach Sean McDonnell, Goldrich is working.
“He went through our series of workouts this winter and he was probably the top player on our team through those drills,” McDonnell said. “It looks like he’s recovered 100 percent.”
Goldrich said he considers himself a healthy eater, but with his final collegiate season on the horizon, the junior is now stricter than ever about cutting unhealthy foods out of his diet. The Internet might be the guide to his ramped-up focus on nutrition, as the quarterback said he may start using Google to discover expert diet tips to follow.
Disciplined nutrition is often considered one of the best ways for athletes to prevent injuries and reach high performance levels. But according to Goldrich, perhaps the most critical part of his preparation takes place at 3 Bridges Yoga on Main Street in downtown Durham.
Goldrich said he started doing yoga “at least once a week” while rehabbing his injured knee last season. The quarterback said the flexibility workouts, “felt great,” and he has considered incorporating more yoga to his workout routine.
“I’m going to pick up where I left off and maybe intensify it a little bit,” Goldrich said. “I’m reading up on it and whether it works or not, it’s another way I can try to keep from missing any games.”
Even though Goldrich said he has attended sessions at 3 Bridges Yoga, his yoga roots originated from a man whose name is forever etched in UNH football history.
Ricky Santos (’08), now entering his third season with the team as a wide receiver coach, led the Wildcats to the playoffs in each of his four years as the team’s starting quarterback. But one of his latest claims to fame could be how he introduced Goldrich to yoga.
Santos did yoga workouts during his playing career in Durham, and encouraged Goldrich to try a yoga routine. Goldrich said he liked it so much that he began going to classes and adding his own twists to his yoga workouts.
After all the offseason training winds down, it will finally be time for the Wildcats to take the field after a historic 2014 season. UNH shattered program records for total wins, consecutive wins (12) and longest home-winning streak (14). The football team in Durham highlighted its season by capturing the Colonial Athletic Association title outright for the first time since 1994.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Goldrich said. “Not too many people knew who we were before this season and I think we made a name for ourselves. We won the CAA outright, which is really tough if you know how tough our conference is.”
The quarterback from West Haven, Conn., said more and more people seem to be following the team over the last two years. All he has to do to notice the change is walk down Main Street.
“I’ll be out in town and people will come up to me and say they watched us on TV,” Goldrich said. “That stuff doesn’t mean a lot, but it’s nice to know people are noticing all the hard work we put in to be successful.”
McDonnell said the team’s success will not change its mindset or work ethic.
“I think the most important thing is getting better each and every day,” McDonnell said.
Goldrich echoed his head coach’s day-by-day focus. And the quarterback does not think the expectations are higher this season after a record-breaking 2014.
The Wildcats will lose 22 seniors to graduation in May, including offensive standouts like wide receiver R.J. Harris, running backs Nico Steriti and Jimmy Owens, tight end Harold Spears and Vailas.
On the defensive side, UNH is saying goodbye to leaders like defensive linemen Matt Kaplan and Cody Muller, corner Steven Thames and safety Nick Cefalo, among several other impact players.
Goldrich said it will not be easy losing the seniors. But he believes the Wildcats’ depth will keep the team playing at a high level.
“We lost a bunch of talented players from last year, so that will be tough to overcome,” Goldrich said. “But we have younger players that will be able to step up.”
Reflecting on the departure of Vailas, Harris and Spears, Goldrich expressed his admiration for each.
“Everyone knows those kids have NFL potential that have the opportunity to get picked up by NFL teams,” Goldrich said. “I was very fortunate to be a part of their careers here.”
Vailas, Harris and Spears have each worked out for pro scouts this offseason. Goldrich said he has been in contact with each player and the news has been promising so far.
“I’ve heard great things from their pro days and it’s looking great for all three of them,” Goldrich said. “I don’t doubt for a second they’ll do well in the NFL.”