JMU dominates CAA Preseason voting, Spiders second

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The following comes directly from the CAA:

BALTIMORE, Md. (July 25, 2017) – James Madison, which returns 14 starters from last year’s 14-1 squad that captured the 2016 NCAA FCS National Championship, was the overwhelming choice to capture the CAA Football title in 2017 according to a vote of the league’s head coaches and media relations directors. The announcement was made on Tuesday morning as the conference conducted its annual Media Day from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Richmond, Villanova and New Hampshire, which joined JMU in the FCS playoff field a year ago, were chosen second, third and fourth, respectively in the preseason poll. Delaware was picked fifth, followed closely by UAlbany, William & Mary and Stony Brook. Rounding out the preseason poll were Maine, Towson, Elon and Rhode Island.

JMU posted an unblemished 8-0 mark in conference play and claimed its second straight CAA Football title in 2016. The Dukes went on to win their second FCS National Championship, knocking off five-time defending champ North Dakota State in the semifinals and Youngstown State in the championship. Senior quarterback Bryan Schor (217-297, 3002 yds., 29 TD’s, 6 int./569 yds. rushing, 10 TD’s), the 2016 CAA Offensive Player of the Year, returns to lead a Dukes’ offense that scored a league-record 700 points last season.  Nine starters return defensively, including senior defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah (44 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and senior safety Raven Greene (70 tackles, 6 int.), who both made the All-CAA first team.

Richmond, which begins its first season under head coach Russ Huesman, has 20 starters back from last year’s 10-4 team that reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. Senior quarterback Kyle Lauletta (220-349, 3,022 yds., 24 TD’s) and sophomore running back Deontez Thompson (188 att., 1,001 yds., 9 TD’s) top a group of eight regulars returning on offense. Among eight starters back on defense are senior defensive lineman Brandon Waller (51 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and senior safety Brendan Coniker (94 tackles, 2 int.), who were recognized on the all-conference team in 2016.

Long-time assistant Mark Ferrante begins his first year as head coach at Villanova, which went 9-4 and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2016. Senior safety Rob Rolle (63 tackles, 7 int.) and senior linebacker Ed Shockley (86 tackles, 11.0 TFL) are among six starters back from a defense that allowed the fewest yards (259.8 ypg) and points (15.0 ppg) in the FCS last season. Nine starters return offensively, led by junior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk (178-297, 2,158 yds., 19 TD’s), junior running back Aaron Forbes (132 att., 799 yds., 8 TD’s) and senior wide receiver Taurus Phillips (36 rec., 497 yds., 3 TD’s).

New Hampshire went 8-5 and extended the nation’s longest FCS playoff streak with its 13th consecutive appearance last season. Junior quarterback Trevor Knight (179-319, 1,714 yds., 14 TD’s) and top receivers Neil O’Connor (58 rec., 834 yds., 6 TD’s) and Malik Love (59 rec., 520 yds., 1 TD) are back on offense, while sophomore defensive backs Pop Lacey (82 tackles, 2 int.) and Prince Smith, Jr. (5 int., 13 PBU) are among a group of seven returning starters on defense.

CAA Football also announced its preseason all-conference team. JMU had a league-high six players honored, including Schor as the preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Villanova’s Rolle was named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

2017 CAA FOOTBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

(Selected by a vote of Head Coaches and Media Relations Directors)

OFFENSE

Name, School                                                    Cl.           Pos.       Ht.          Wt.        Hometown/High School

Bryan Schor, James Madison                      Sr.           QB          6-2          215         Milford, Pa./Delaware Valley

Stacey Bedell, Stony Brook                          Sr.           RB           5-9          195         Mastic Beach, N.Y./William Floyd

Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, UAlbany                  Jr.           RB           5-9          199         Newark, N.J./Don Bosco

Deontez Thompson, Richmond                 So.          RB           6-0          200         Indian Head, Md./Henry E. Lackey

Anthony Manzo-Lewis, UAlbany                               Sr.           FB           6-2          245         Montvale, N.J./St. Joseph Regional

DeVonte Dedmon, William & Mary          Sr.           WR         5-10       195         Williamsburg, Va./Warhill

Neil O’Connor, New Hampshire                                Jr.           WR         5-11       191         Leominster, Mass./Leominster

Micah Wright, Maine                                      Jr.           WR         6-1          190         Newark, N.Y./Newark

Jonathan Kloosterman, James Madison Sr.           TE           6-3          245         Strasburg, Va./Strasburg

Jamil Demby, Maine                                       Sr.           OL           6-5          310         Vineland, N.J./Vineland

Chris Durant, William & Mary                      Sr.           OL           6-4          310         Oak Hill, Va./Oakton

Brody Kern, Delaware                                    Sr.           OL           6-2          290         York, Pa./West York

Timon Parris, Stony Brook                            Sr.           OL           6-5          310         Floral Park, N.Y./Floral Park

Aaron Stinnie, James Madison                   Sr.           OL           6-5          310         Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield

DEFENSE

Name, School                                                    Cl.           Pos.       Ht.          Wt.        Hometown/High School

Andrew Ankrah, James Madison                              Sr.           DL           6-4          240         Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard

Malachi Hoskins, UAlbany                            Sr.           DL           6-3          230         Queens, N.Y./Loomis Chaffee

Bilal Nichols, Delaware                                   Sr.           DL           6-5          300         Newark, Del./Hodgson Vo-Tech

Brandon Waller, Richmond                          Sr.           DL           6-4          265         Ardmore, Pa./Haverford

Charles Bell, Delaware                                   Sr.           LB           6-1          230         Conestoga, Pa./Penn Manor

Shayne Lawless, Stony Brook                     Jr.           LB           6-1          220         Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown

Sterling Sheffield, Maine                              Jr.           LB           6-2          237         Mullica Hill, N.J./Clearview Region

Ed Shockley, Villanova                                   Sr.           LB           5-11       225         Millville, N.J./Millville

Raven Greene, James Madison                 Sr.           S              6-0          200         Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial

Rob Rolle, Villanova                                        Sr.           S              6-0          190         Newfield, N.J./Delsea

Najee Goode, Maine                                     Sr.           CB           5-10       170         Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Charter

Prince Smith, Jr., New Hampshire             So.          CB           5-10       181         Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Charter

SPECIAL TEAMS

Name, School                                                    Cl.           Pos.       Ht.          Wt.        Hometown/High School

Shane Simpson, Towson                               So.          RET         5-9          185         Easton, Pa./Easton

Griffin Trau, Richmond                                  Jr.           PK           5-8          180         Culver, Ind./Western Reserve Acad.

John Hinchen, Villanova                                                Sr.           P             5-11       185         Saddle River, N.J./Northern Highlands

Robert Carter, James Madison                   Jr.           SPEC      6-0          185         Baltimore, Md./Long Reach

CAA FOOTBALL PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bryan Schor, QB, James Madison

CAA FOOTBALL PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rob Rolle, S, Villanova

2017 CAA FOOTBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

(Selected by a vote of Head Coaches and Media Relations Directors)

1.       James Madison (21 first-place votes)      241

2.       Richmond (3 first-place votes)                   210

3.       Villanova                                                              209

4.       New Hampshire                                               169

5.       Delaware                                                             133

6.       UAlbany                                                               129

7.       William & Mary                                                 124

8.       Stony Brook                                                       118

9.       Maine                                                                   100

10.   Towson                                                                84

11.   Elon                                                                       36

12.   Rhode Island                                                      31

The following is additional information directly from James Madison:

BALTIMORE, Md– James Madison was predicted to win the Colonial Athletic Association title in 2017, and senior quarterback Bryan Schor was voted the league’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, as announced at CAA Football Media Day on Tuesday morning at M&T Bank Stadium.

JMU led the conference with six Preseason All-CAA selections, as Schor was joined on the list by senior tight end Jonathan Kloosterman, redshirt senior offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie, redshirt senior defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah, redshirt senior safety Raven Greene and redshirt junior special teams player Robert Carter Jr.

Both the order of finish and Preseason All-CAA Team were selected in a vote by the league’s 12 head coaches and sports information directors.

The Dukes captured their second national championship after going 14-1 overall, winning their final 12 games to finish the year with the longest active win streak in all of Division I. JMU completed the CAA gauntlet with a perfect 8-0 record to win the league crown for the second straight year before earning the No. 4 seed for the FCS playoffs.

JMU’s run to the championship included wins over New Hampshire (55-22), No. 5 Sam Houston State (65-7), at top-seeded North Dakota State (27-17) and against Youngstown State (28-14) in the title game.

Schor, the reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Year, was also honored as the Bill Dudley Award winner, which is given to the top Division I player in the state. He earned a national distinction as the CFPA FCS National Performer of the Year after leading the nation in completion percentage (73.1%), pass efficiency (186.2) and yards per pass attempt (10.11). He passed for 3,002 yards and 29 touchdowns, which was good for second in JMU single-season history in both categories.

Kloosterman earned First Team All-CAA status as a junior after recording 24 receptions for 322 yards and a team-best seven touchdowns. His receiving-touchdown total was tied for sixth in JMU single-season history, and he ranked second in the CAA in the category. During the FCS playoffs, Kloosterman made six receptions, with five resulting in touchdowns.

Stinnie was a HERO Sports FCS Second Team All-American and First Team All-CAA honoree after starting all 15 games at left tackle. He was part of an offensive line that set JMU and CAA single-season records in scoring (700), rushing offense (4,125), total offense (7,612) and first downs (380). The offense led the FCS in completion percentage (70.8%), team pass efficiency (181.69) and first down while also ranking second in scoring (46.7), third in total offense (507.5), fourth in third-down conversions (50%), fifth in rushing (275.0) and 10th in turnovers lost (13).

Ankrah was honored on the All-CAA First Team after recording 44 tackles (22 solo), to go with 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season. He also forced a fumble, tallied three pass breakups and had two quarterback hurries. He was previously an All-American as a sophomore after making 10.5 sacks in 2015.

Greene was named a HERO Sports FCS Third Team All-American and First Team All-CAA selection last season after racking up 70 tackles (34 solo), to go with a team-best six interceptions, one fumble recovery and seven pass breakups. He was tied for fourth in JMU single-season history in interceptions, and his total was good for second among all CAA players in 2016. He had two interceptions against Rhode Island, returning one for a touchdown.

Carter, known primarily for his explosiveness as a gunner on kick coverage, made 15 tackles (10 solo) last season. He was a co-winner of the team’s special teams player of the year accolade at the end of the 2016 season. The special teams position on the all-conference team is a new honor for the 2017 season.

The following is additional information directly from the University of Richmond:

BALTIMORE, Md. – With eight starters returning on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the University of Richmond football team has high expectations headed into the 2017 season.

Those expectations were put on display on Tuesday when the CAA Preseason Poll was released at the conference’s annual media day in Baltimore.

Richmond was picked second, behind only the defending national champion JMU, and ahead of top-10 ranked Villanova, who rounded out the top three in the preseason CAA poll, voted on by coaches and media members around the league.

Three Spiders leading those high expectations were recognized on the Preseason All-CAA team including returning All-American kicker Griffin Trau, defensive end Brandon Waller and running back Deontez Thompson.

Trau, who earned First-Team All-American honors last fall, set CAA and Richmond records with 23 field goals and a perfect 42-for-42 on extra points to set a program record with 111 points on the year.

Waller earned Second Team All-CAA accolades last fall after racking up 5.5 sacks and 51 tackles in just nine games before suffering a season-ending injury that held him out the final five games of the year.

Thompson had a huge debut season for the Spiders, stepping up after two injuries in the backfield and becoming the first freshman in program history to rush for over 1,000 yards and earned Freshman All-American honors because of his performance.

Richmond reports to campus on Wednesday, July 26 before kicking off camp on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. on the grass fields on the west side of campus.

For a full training camp rundown, check the Spider Football Training Camp Central.

The Spiders kick off the 2017 season on Sunday, August 27 when they travel to #4 Sam Houston State. Game time on ESPNU is set for 7 p.m. EST.

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