But for the fact that the players ahead of him haven't graduated, Steven Stryker could be a 2015 Men's Soccer light version of 2014-15 Justin Moss: a player who has played well when given the opportunity but stuck behind others on depth chart.
The offseason has seen good and bad for Stryker, the third of Stu Riddle's WMU recruits who followed him to Buffalo. Abdulla Al-Kalisy and Sean Young have left the team, but Scott Doney has come aboard and looks to have locked down a big role thanks to a huge spring performance.
Stryker did well this spring as well, however. He scored the first goal of the UK trip in a comeback 5-2 win over Hayes and Yeading FC as well as a hat trick and the last goal of the trip in a 5-0 win over First Point USA. I believe that he finished with just those four goals on the spring and that that was good for third on the team behind Russell Cicerone and Scott Doney.
In the past, he's been a high-effort guy who makes an impact with an without the ball. He runs right at guys with the ball and forces them to make a decision, and with the ball he's always moving, or looking for space off the ball looking to receive a pass. In admittedly limited minutes, I rarely remember him shying away from contact or aggressiveness either with the ball or in challenges. If he's proved this spring that he can be part of high-quality scoring opportunities, he could be a breakthrough surprise in 2015.
Generally last year Steven existed in some rotation with Al-Kalisy and Young, though neither particularly outperformed him once you consider the increased minutes they received: Al-Kalisy (nine starts) had two assists and 19 shots, while Young (10 starts) had a single goal and 22 shots on the season. Stryker tallied only six shots and was involved in no goals, but while rarely playing more than 20 minutes, he did see time in every game.
In 2015 Steven should see more time even despite Doney's presumed starting role. He was unlucky not to come away with a point in both the Bowling Green and Lafayette games last year, and (to my eye at least) has proven to bring an energy in advancing the ball into the attacking third that UB only seemed to get from Cicerone last year. It's tough to guess just how much Stryker will factor into Riddle's 2015 game plans since the Bulls feature returning experience everywhere, but after a pair of forwards left the program there's something to be said for the junior sitting next in line.