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Vik receiver makes fast comeback

Jesse Levin wants to get 'explosive' when playing North Carolina A&T

Jesse Levin thinks he owes at least some of his playing time in the Portland State football lineup to a former coach at Beaverton High and alternative physical therapy.

Levin, a senior receiver, re-injured his back as the Vikings' fall training camp began. He figures he still might be dealing with the pain if not for the workouts he does with Brian Cassidy. A former assistant at Beaverton when Levin played there, Cassidy now runs a physical therapy company called Function Dynamics.

'I thought I'd be out at least eight weeks, or at least dealing with that injury throughout the season,' Levin says. 'But I'm feeling pretty good. I think I can be a lot more explosive in the next game.'

Levin originally injured his back while lifting weights at Idaho State during his two seasons there before transferring to PSU. So, he's familiar with the rehab timeline for his injury.

Despite missing two weeks of daily doubles, he suited up for the Vikings' season opener and caught five passes for 91 yards in a 31-23 victory over Stephen F. Austin State University.

Levin, a 1998 graduate of Beaverton High, expects to be more of a force in Saturday's game with North Carolina A&T.

'There definitely were times when I could have done more, but I didn't want to push myself too hard,' he said. 'Now that I've played a game and had a week off, I'll be able to do a lot more.'

Levin is the top returning receiver in the Big Sky Conference, having caught 48 passes for 905 yards last season.

Vikings coach Tim Walsh says Levin's play was impressive in the opener.

'If he catches five passes for 91 yards in every game, he's got 55 catches and nearly 1,000 yards at the end of the year,' Walsh says. 'That's a great season. That's what we hope he'll do.'

With a healthy Levin on the field, the Vikings hope to kick their offense into gear against North Carolina A&T, a team that gave up 742 yards of offense in its last game.

The Vikings gained just 322 total yards, 155 yards below their average from a year ago, in their opener. Levin thinks the biggest question mark of the opening game, the offensive line, has been largely answered.

'Those guys played well,' he says. 'There were a lot of concerns there, but they did fine. We just had some trouble as a unit in the fourth quarter, which didn't help the defense, and that made the game close.'

NOTES: Walsh says he might wait until as late as today to decide if sophomore tailback Ryan Fuqua will play at all. Fuqua has been bothered by an ankle injury and didn't practice last week or at the start of this week. He gained 142 yards and had all but eight of the team's 41 carries in the opener. Walsh expects senior quarterback Juston Wood to break loose Saturday. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 156 yards in the opener but threw two interceptions. The Vikings also lost one fumble. Turnovers will be a key to Saturday's game. North Carolina A&T gathered eight turnovers last week, helping it beat Jackson State 42-36 despite the amazing yardage total given up by its defense. The Vikings defense collected three turnovers in its opener.

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