Volume 92, Issue 12

Thursday, September 24, 1998

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SPORTS
 

Evolution of football star Rayne



Tom Baumgartner/Gazette


ROLLING THUNDER. Fullback Fabian Rayne leads the Mustang charge into Toronto, hoping to disrupt any homecoming celebrations.

By John Dinner
Gazette Staff

Giving it all you have can lead to a lot of good things. So thinks Mustang fullback Fabian Rayne and so far it seems to be working.

Even though it's only two games into the season, it is fair to say that Rayne is having his best season ever in his three years at Western, capping off a three-touchdown game against Laurier with CIAU offensive player of the week honours, announced yesterday.

"I made a commitment to myself to get healthier, stronger and quicker in the off-season," Rayne said. "I have a real good understanding of the game now and can make something out of nothing [on the field]."

Head coach Larry Haylor has been very impressed with the performance to date of his tailback, turned fullback.

"Fabian has always had the talent, he's a great north-south runner." Haylor said. "When he first arrived as a freshman I don't think he was prepared, like a lot of other freshman, for the demands of the university game. But now he's healthy and committed. He came to camp in the best shape ever and that's being reflected on the field."

Rayne's breakout performance and chance to show what he's got, is in part due to the injury of running back Mike Laszlo. Getting the ball more allowed the bruising, but slick back to gain 131 yards against Laurier last week along with scoring three TDs.

Offensive lineman Tim Bakker, who helps Rayne obtain the big numbers, feels very confident when the ball is in Rayne's hands.

"He's a real intense guy and he instills a lot of confidence in us," Bakker said. "We know that in short yardage situations with Fabian we're going to get it. He's one of those running backs that is always getting positive yardage."

"Fabian runs very instinctively," Haylor said of Rayne's natural running ability. "He's a prototype running back and he has become a lot more intuitive within the schemes on the field."

Coming off an injury-plagued season last year, Rayne knew this was his year. Severely damaging his ankle in the second game of last season, it became very difficult for Rayne to make the kind of contribution he wanted because he had to show his desire on the practice field as opposed to the playing field where he excels.

"When I'm healthy, I don't think there's a back as good as me in the country. That may sound cocky but it's what I expect from myself," he said.

That kind of attitude has propelled Rayne into the forefront of the Mustang attack and made him one of the leaders on the team.

Already in his third year, Rayne is becoming anxious about winning the elusive Vanier Cup.

"My time here is getting short and I want to win. I am willing to do anything it takes to make sure we win the Vanier Cup," Rayne said. "When we're on our game we're tough to beat and as I improve and the team improves each week, I don't think there is any team better than us in the country."


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Copyright The Gazette 1998