This marks the last column I will write for this year. It has been a big year in sports for the Wildcats, and Weber State University’s athletic teams are in a good position at the close of the year.

The football team and the men’s basketball team are both undergoing major changes and will have challenges this season. There still is a lot of hope for WSU’s two major sports teams in the upcoming year.

The football team probably encountered the most changes of any WSU team. With a new coach in place, the team could have a big year next season. John L. Smith may bring a new attitude to WSU football. Players have said he is more hard-nosed than Ron McBride.

Smith has come in and instilled a fierce attitude in the team this season, and the Wildcats might surprise a few people next season.

The team will also have a strong core of returning players. The offense will have multiple key returning players. C.J. Tuckett had a breakout season towards the end of last year and has performed well in spring practices this year.

In addition to Tuckett, the Wildcats will also have Josh Booker, Barrinton Collins and Tanner Hinds in their running arsenal.

One question mark for the team offensively will be the health of Mike Hoke. Hoke has missed spring practice after having shoulder surgery following the conclusion of last season. If Hoke can come back from his injury, the Wildcats’ offense may be able to put up some impressive numbers.

Hoke will have Xavian Johnson as a target. Johnson will be in his second year for WSU. He had a pretty good showing this year but missed out on the end of the season following an injury.

The Wildcats will be looking to improve upon this year’s record and will hope to make the playoffs.

WSU’s basketball team will also be looking to make it to the NCAA tournament after coming excruciatingly close this season. The team will be without Damian Lillard, who is going to the NBA next year.

WSU will also be without Kyle Bullinger and Darin Mahoney, who will graduate this semester.

Despite losing three key players, the Wildcats still may have a strong team next season. WSU will still have Scott Bamforth, Byron Fulton, Kyle Tresnak and Frank Otis. The Wildcats will also have Mike Brown, who played limited minutes this season but showed great signs in his time on the court.

A few times this season, Brown came in late in the game and proved he was a strong shooter. Brown and Bamforth could provide a strong outside presence for the Wildcats. If Tresnak, Otis and Fulton can continue to improve their inside game, WSU could become a strong scoring machine.

Even without Lillard, the Wildcats will be strong and could make a run in the Big Sky Conference tournament next year.

Both teams will have a tough season next year, but there is great potential for both teams if things go their way. It should be an exciting season for WSU fans.

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