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Blue Hens in a better spot than they were in 2018
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News 4-19-21

NEWARK — Delaware’s situation three years ago wasn’t hopeless.

But it wasn’t good, either.

The Blue Hens limped into the NCAA FCS Division football playoffs having lost the last two games of the regular season. They also had some injuries at quarterback and had to go to sixth-ranked James Madison in the first round.

So while Delaware’s defense kept them in the game, the Hens eventually dropped a fairly-predictable 20-6 loss to the Dukes.

Fast forward to this week and the Hens’ situation going into Saturday’s 7 p.m. FCS first-round playoff game against Sacred Heart is considerably different. This time it is Delaware (5-0) that is ranked fifth in the country and playing at home.

The Hens also have a lot of confidence in themselves after going unbeaten in the spring and ending the regular season by snapping a nine-game losing streak against Villanova on Saturday.

“You’re looking at two different realities,” said UD coach Danny Rocco, comparing the two situations. “One, we’re at home. Two, they (JMU) were really good. Those two things are real.

“Our path this year is uniquely different. I do feel like we have a real good, fresh sense of energy right now. It’s one of those things, if you win, you advance; you lose and you go home. But in order to think about making a run, you’ve got to win your first (playoff) football game.”

In Rocco’s five years at Richmond, the Spiders reached the NCAA playoffs three times — and won at least a first-round playoff game each time.

That being said, Delaware lost its only previous matchup with Sacred Heart, falling to the Pioneers, 10-7, in 2014 at Delaware Stadium.

“Sacred Heart is a good football team,” Rocco said on Monday. “So we’re going to have to continue to play better if we want this post-season experience to be a good experience for us.”

But Delaware’s players do feel better about themselves than they did heading into the 2018 playoffs. Several of the Hens’ current veterans were youngsters back then.

“This team is so united,” said junior receiver Thyrick Pitts. “We play for each other. In 2018, it was kind of our first time back in that moment. I think you see it on the field (now), how we strap it up and play, how much we love to play for each other.”

“This team is a lot different,” said senior cornerback Nijuel Hill. “We have the experience now. In 2018, we really relied on our talent to get us through. There were a lot of NFL prospects in that class.

“Now, we’re relying on our techniques and we play for each other. We’re not a team, we’re a family.”

Henderson, Hill honored

It’s next to impossible for any quarterback to be perfect throwing the ball in a game.

But the Hens’ Nolan Henderson was pretty close in Delaware’s 27-20 win at Villanova on Saturday.

The Smyrna High grad completed 20-of-24 passes for a career-high 270 yards with two touchdowns with no interceptions. He intentionally threw away at least one pass and had an on-target throw dropped.

The performance earned Henderson the CAA Offensive Player of the Week award.

“Nolan has gotten to the point where he’s so efficient,” Rocco said after the game. “He was 20 of 24? No way. I felt that he managed the game really well. He’s learned to protect himself a little bit better in some situations.

“The development of Nolan has been really impressive,” Rocco said on Monday. “Credit goes to Nolan and to (offensive coordinator) Jared (Ambrose).”

Also for Delaware, Hill was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week. The senior’s interception with a minute left sealed the Hens’ victory on Saturday.

Hill was also in on four tackles and two pass breakups.

Dover grad gets his chance

Dover High grad Bradly Anyanwu, an offensive lineman for the Hens, saw the most significant playing time of his young career in the Villanova game.

The 6-foot-3, 305-pound redshirt freshman lined up at right tackle for most of the contest after starter Carter Lynch suffered a leg injury early in the game. With Lynch still out, Anyanwu is expected to start against Sacred Heart.

Rocco said the youngster handled himself just fine.

“He did really well,” said Rocco. “Bradly is an awesome young man. He’s the strongest football player on our team. He is all in, fully committed.

“He can move bodies around. He’s smart, he cares a lot. One of the next steps for him is to be able to communicate in the heat of the battle. I think it will be a big, big moment for him to have a full week of practice out there with the first team. ... He’s got a bright future with us.”

Rocco, Lee award finalists

Rocco and senior running back Dejoun Lee were both announced as FCS award finalists on Monday.

Rocco is up for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award while Lee has been selected as a Walter Payton Offensive Player of the Year finalist.

Lee posted the second-most rushing yards in an FCS game this spring with 221 at then-No. 18 Rhode Island. He also ranks sixth in all of FCS in all-purpose yards per game.

This is the seventh time Rocco has been named a Coach of the Year finalist in his career.

Extra points

Safety Kedrick Whitehead (Middletown) won’t have to sit out any of Saturday’s playoff game after being ejected on a targeting call in the second quarter against Villanova. ... Hill, for one, said he didn’t think Whitehead’s hit warranted an ejection. ... Delaware moved up two spots to No. 5 in Monday’s STATS FCS poll. ... Cornerback Amonte Strothers, who was ejected in the second half of the Villanova game, is eligible to play on Saturday. ... Saturday’s playoff game will be shown online at ESPN-3.
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Sacred Heart Football to Face Delaware in NCAA FCS Tournament
Apr 19, 2021 - https://www.shubigred.com/

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After winning the Northeast Conference championship last week, the Sacred Heart University football team learned its first round opponent in the NCAA Football Championship Series Tournament on Sunday. The Pioneers (3-1) will travel to Delaware for a 7 p.m. contest on April 24 contest. The game can be seen on ESPN3.

This will be the second meeting against the Blue Hens. Sacred Heart defeated #24 Delaware, 10-7, on October 4, 2014. Delaware (5-0) earned the Colonial Athletic Association's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Sacred Heart is 0-2 in its previous two trips to the FCS Playoffs. The Pioneers lost 44-22 to Fordham in 2014 after a 37-27 defeat to the Rams the year before.

The Pioneers are led by Walter Payton Award candidate Julius Chestnut. The junior running back leads the country in rushing yards (179.2 per game) and all-purpose yards (222.0 yards) while ranking second in total rushing yards (717) and scoring (17.0 per game). 

NEC Coach of the Year Mark Nofri is in his ninth season at the helm of the SHU football team. He's led the Pioneers to four conference titles and has a 54-42 career record.

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Hens to face Sacred Heart in first round of NCAA playoffs
April 18, 2021 
Delaware State News

NEWARK - Delaware will host Sacred Heart in the first round of the NCAA Division I FCS football playoffs the NCAA announced this morning.

The contest will be played on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Delaware Stadium.

The NCAA paired up Delaware and Sacred Heart because of the proximity of the two schools. The Hens played the Pioneers in 2014, with Delaware winning, 10-7, in Newark.

It will be the first time Delaware has hosted a playoff game since 2010.

The Hens are ranked seventh in the STATS FCS poll while Sacred Heart was among teams receiving votes . It will be Delaware’s first NCAA playoff appearance since 2018 when it fell to James Madison, 20-6, in the first round.

The winner of the Delaware-Sacred Heart game will face the winner of the first-round matchcup between fourth-seeded Jacksonville State and Davidson.

Sacred Heart won the NEC title after beating Dusquene 34-27 to avenge a season-opening loss to the Dukes. The Pioneers had one game canceled.

The Hens were awarded the CAA’s automatic playoff berth after beating Villanova, 27-20, on Saturday to finish 4-0 and win the CAA North. A committee of the league’s athletic directors chose Delaware over James Madison, which won the CAA South but played only three conference games.

Saturday's game will be played later in the day because Delaware is hosting the CAA field hockey tournament next weekend.

South Dakota State, which knocked off North Dakota State on Saturday was awarded the top seed in the playoffs. Sam Houston State - coached by former Delaware coach K.C. Keeler - was No. 2, while James Madison was No. 3.
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Hens get by Villanova at last
April 17, 2021 7:51 pm
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

VILLANOVA, Pa. — When it was over — finally, finally over — Delaware’s players celebrated like it was something they’d never done before.

Because they hadn’t.

The last time the Blue Hens beat rival Villanova on a football field, most of the Blue Hens were still in grade school.

So when No. 7 Delaware outlasted the No. 10 Wildcats, 27-20 on Saturday afternoon to beat Villanova for the first time since 2011, the Hens danced and posed for photos on the big blue ‘V’ at midfield of Villanova Stadium.

While the Wildcats and their fans may not have cared for the gesture, Delaware’s players say they weren’t doing anything Villanova hadn’t done to them at Delaware Stadium. And after watching the Wildcats celebrate winning the previous nine meetings, the Hens felt like they had accomplished something pretty big.

“I don’t know what it’s been — I try not to look at the sheet,” quarterback Nolan Henderson said about UD’s losing streak in the series. “But to end it and put ourselves in a really good spot to get in the playoffs, we’re going to enjoy this win. But we’re not done yet, not even close.”

The day got even better for Delaware after the game when a committee of league athletic directors awarded the Hens the CAA’s automatic NCAA FCS Division I playoff bid.

The vote was needed because of the limited number of conference games played this spring. The Hens (4-0 CAA, 5-0 overall) and CAA South champion James Madison (3-0 CAA, 5-0 overall) both finished unbeaten in conference.

The Hens have already been named as a first-round host. The 16-team NCAA FCS playoff field that will be announced on Sunday morning.

But Saturday’s win wasn’t decided until cornerback Nijuel Hill intercepted a Villanova pass at the Wildcat 31 with just 59 seconds remaining. From there, the Hens just had to snap the ball twice to run out the clock.

“All I know is he came out of there with the ball, running toward their end zone,” coach Danny Rocco said about the interception. “I’m yelling, ‘Get down, get down, get down.’ Let’s get out of here.”

“I just read it and made a play on it,” said Hill.

The way the first half ended may have been just as critical for Delaware.

Despite the Hens seemingly being in control for much of the first two quarters, they had only two field goals to show for it. So when Villanova (2-2) put together a 76-yard scoring drive to get a touchdown with only 3:32 left before halftime, the Wildcats suddenly owned a 7-6 advantage.

It was the first time Delaware has trailed all spring.

It was pretty big then for the Hens to answer with a 70-yard, 52-second scoring drive. Henderson found receiver Jourdon Townsend open behind the Villanova secondary for a 38-yard touchdown pass with just eight seconds on the clock.

Henderson completed 6-of-7 passes for all 70 yards on the march that put the Hens back ahead, 13-7, at intermission. The former Smyrna High standout finished 20-of-24 for 270 yards with two TDs and no interceptions.

“Obviously, you’ve got two options there,” Henderson said about trailing for the first time. “You can sulk about it or you can go back on the field and try to win that individual possession. We knew it was going to be a dogfight.

“It changes everything,” he said about the TD. “To actually get seven was huge. It kind of changed the whole course of the game I feel like.”

“I kind of feel like that was the difference in the game,” said Rocco. “That score there before the half gave us that confidence going back into the locker room. It was something that was really important for our team.”

Delaware, which out-gained Villanova 350-334 in total yards, never relinquished its lead in the second half but they also never quite put away the Wildcats, either.

The Hens led 20-10 when Henderson found tight end Bryce DeMaille for a tumbling 18-yard TD catch late in the third quarter. Delaware then went up 27-13 when Khory Spruill scored on a three-yard run with 8:20 remaining in the game.

The TD was set up on a 43-yard reception by receiver Thyrick Pitts, who finished with 104 yards on five receptions.

But, of course, Villanova kept coming back.

On a third-and-goal from the one, Wildcat QB Daniel Smith looked like he was going to be sacked as he was tripped up as he rolled to his right. But, as he was spinning to the ground, Smith somehow just flipped the ball toward the end zone.

The ball found its way into the hands of teammate Charlie Gilroy for a highlight-reel touchdown that got Villanova within 27-20 with 3:06 still left.

The Hens were able to pick up one first down on the ensuing possession and made the Wildcats use all their timeouts. Villanova got the ball back at their own 23 with just 1:08 remaining.

That’s where Hill’s interception finished things off.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Hill said about Smith’s scoring pass. “That’s how it is in football. We give up plays, we make plays. They made a great play on that touchdown.

“Honestly we never had a doubt,” he added. “We had faith in our brothers. We’re not even a team over here. Dejoun said it best, we’re a family.”

Maybe it was fitting that, in a rivalry game, there would be a little bad blood at the end.

Villanova’s players angrily confronted the Hens when they started celebrating at midfield. The confrontation was broken up but not before Villanova’s fans booed UD’s players.

Delaware’s players, though, insisted they didn’t do anything that the Wildcats hadn’t done to them in Newark.

“Honestly, I just wanted to celebrate this one with my team,” said Hill. “Every time they won on our field, they’ve done the exact same thing. We always showed respect. ... They didn’t show us much respect.”

“It’s crazy to see a team do that to you for how many years,” said Henderson. “The year you do it to them, it’s obviously a different feeling. Obviously it’s a close game, it’s a rivalry game. We don’t like each other.

“But we were just trying to have fun. We’re really excited.”

The two teams meet again on Nov. 20 in Newark.

Extra points

The NCAA pairings are slated to be announced at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. ... Lee was limited to 48 yards on 19 carries. ... Gene Coleman added seven catches for 78 yards. ... Safety Noah Plack finished with a team-high seven tackles. ... Safety Kedrick Whitehead was ejected from the game in the second quarter on a targeting call before cornerback Amonte Strothers was thrown out in the second half for unknown reasons.
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Blue Hens Clinch CAA Title with 27-20 Battle of the Blue Victory
4/24/2021 - bluehens.com

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The No. 7 University of Delaware football team completed its undefeated regular season and claimed the CAA North division title with a 27-20 victory over No. 10 Villanova Saturday afternoon.

"I'm really proud of our team today, they played with a lot of pride and showed a lot of resiliency," said head coach Danny Rocco. "Today's a really big celebration for our team and our program and we are excited to keep this season going."

Redshirt junior Nolan Henderson was efficient all afternoon, going 20-of-24 for a career-high 270 yards and two touchdowns while junior Thyrick Pitts went over the century mark and over 1,000 career receiving yards with five catches for 104 yards.

Redshirt senior Nijuel Hill clinched the game with an interception in the game's final minute.

It was a tight, defensive battle early, with the Blue Hens only able to put a field goal on the board in the first quarter after a sophomore Chase McGowan sack put an end to Villanova's opening possession.

Henderson connected with Pitts on a diving, deep strike early in the second quarter for 33 yards to help set up another sophomore Ryan Coe field goal.

Delaware faced its first deficit of the year, as the Wildcats drove down the field and found the end zone on their next possession to make it 7-6. The teams traded empty possessions before the Blue Hens took over with just a minute remaining in the half when Henderson's deep ball to sophomore Jourdan Townsend put Delaware up, 13-7 just before the half.

A Villanova field goal opened the scoring in the second half midway through the third quarter. Delaware followed that drive with a nine-play, 39-yard, nearly five-minute one of its own that was capped off with a touchdown catch by junior Bryce De Maille in the corner of the end zone.

The fourth quarter opened with another Villanova field goal before Henderson and Pitts connected again for 45 yards to get the Blue Hens down to the three-yard line to set up a redshirt-junior Khory Spruill touchdown rush.

The Wildcats would not go away, piecing together an 11-play drive that ate up five minutes of clock that was capped off by a wild touchdown pass to make it a one score game again at 27-20.

Delaware did what it had to do down the stretch, running clock and creating the turnover to get the first win in the Battle of the Blue since 2011 and clinch the program's first conference championship since 2010. 

Defensively, redshirt sophomore Noah Plack led the way with seven tackles while classmate Liam Tranier and junior Johnny Buchanan each had six, including a tackle for loss for Buchanan.

Senior Gene Coleman II had seven grabs for 78 yards while Townsend had three catches for 48 yards and a score. Spruill ran the ball eight times for 38 yards and a touchdown and redshirt senior Dejoun Lee had 48 yards on 19 carries.


The FCS Playoffs selection show will air Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPNU where the Blue Hens will find out their fate for the postseason. Delaware is anticipating an opening round game at Delaware Stadium and fans looking for ticket information can visit the ticketing information central page. 

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Facing DSU in Dover, Hens still get same results
April 10, 2021
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

DOVER — Nolan Henderson may be a Kent County kid.

But even the Smyrna High grad had to admit that he hadn’t set foot in Alumni Stadium before Saturday night.

“I always ride by this place,” joked Henderson, the Delaware junior quarterback. “Seeing it from the Dover Mall is a lot different than being here. It was cool as a Kent County guy being able to play here.”

Henderson’s teammates didn’t seem to mind their first visit to Dover, either, as the No. 8 Blue Hens came away with a 34-14 victory over Delaware State on Saturday evening.

The decisive victory makes Delaware (4-0) now 10-0 in the all-time Route One Rivalry between the state’s only two Division I FCS football programs.

With only Villanova left on the Hens’ spring schedule next Saturday, they knew they had no margin for error if they want to be one of the 16 schools to make the 16-team NCAA playoff field.

That being said, Delaware’s players credited the Hornets (2-2) with making them earn some tough yards on Saturday.

Blue Hen senior running back Dejoun Lee ran for a game-high 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries.

“They did a great job of wrapping up,” said Lee, who did have a 53-yard run. “That defense, they’re good.”

“We knew coming in that they had a good defensive front, a good defensive unit,” said Henderson, who completed 11-of-19 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. “Give credit to them. But we shot ourselves in the foot and had a lot of miscues.

“We didn’t play a good, full 60-minute game and there’s a little sour taste in my mouth because of that. It’s unlike us. Usually we’re able to sustain drives and control the ball. ... We didn’t do enough things to play the game we wanted to play. Obviously, it’s a win. But I’m not too happy about it.”

Delaware did finish with an advantage of 361-186 in total yards. As UD coach Danny Rocco pointed out, though, the Hens seemed to make some big plays when they needed them but had trouble sustaining drives.

Delaware’s defense also forced three first-half turnovers. A fumble recovery by safety Kedrick Whitehead set up a seven-yard scoring run by Lee in the first quarter that gave Delaware the lead for good.

DelState turned the ball over four times in the contest

“You can’t give a good team that many opportunities,” said DSU coach Rod Milstead. “UD played a very good football game and capitalized on our mistakes. I thought we had a good game plan for them but our mistakes and turnovers really were our Achilles heel.”

The Hens stretched their lead to 24-0 by halftime. More impressively, they had outgained the Hornets, 223 yards to 35, by intermission.

“I liked our defense,” said Rocco. “We were dominant in the first half. But they’ve got some talented players. Those two blocked punts makes it not feel as good as it should.”

Those two blocked punts by DelState set up the Hornets’ only two touchdowns in the second half.

With Delaware punting out of its own end zone in the third quarter, DSU’s Daniel Douglas blocked the kick and teammate Trey Gross recovered it for a touchdown.

Then, in the fourth quarter, the two reversed roles with Gross blocking a punt and Douglas recovered it. That set up a seven-yard scoring run by QB Jared Lewis with 7:58 remaining.

In the end, though, playing in Dover for the first time wasn’t enough to change the result in the series.

After the game, Delaware’s players happily posed for pictures as they passed around the silver Route One Rivalry trophy under the Alumni Stadium stands.

Delaware’s FCS playoff hopes will now come down to next Saturday’s CAA showdown at Villanova. The Hens, of course, have struggled mightily against the Wildcats in recent years.

One of the brightest spots for the Hens on Saturday was the return of linebacker Colby Reeder to the field. The standout hadn’t played in a game since 2018 — a span of 869 days — because of various injuries. He finished with three tackles.

Reeder is well aware that Delaware has lost nine games in a row to the rival Wildcats.

“No one here has beaten them,” he said. “I think we should have a chip on our shoulders the size of a boulder or a mountain for this game.”

Extra points

The two teams aren’t slated to play again until the fall of 2024. ... Riah Burton, Nijuel Hill and Jack Dinicola all had interceptions for the Hens. ... Ryan Coe kicked a pair of field goals for Delaware, from 38 and 24 yards. ... Thyrick Pitts had five catches for 87 yards, including a nine-yard TD pass from Henderson with 19 seconds left before halftime. ... Safety Noah Plack had a team-high eight tackles for UD.
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Blue Hens Remain Unbeaten in Route 1 Rivalry with 34-14 Victory

1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
DELAWARE 10 14 7 3 34
Delaware State 0 0 7 7 14

The University of Delaware football team traveled to Dover Saturday night for the first time in program history and left with a 34-14 victory to move to 10-0 in the Route 1 Rivalry.

4/10/2021 - bluehens.com

In front of a national audience on ESPN 2, the Blue Hens continue their trend of takeaways, creating two turnovers on the Hornets' first two possessions of the game.
Redshirt senior Nijuel Hill intercepted a pass on the first and junior Justis Henley forced a fumble that was recovered by classmate Kedrick Whitehead on the second to set
up a redshirt senior Dejoun Lee seven-yard touchdown to break the ice.

Lee had his second-straight 100-yard rushing performance, going for 109 on 14 carries and two scores.
After a Delaware State three-and-out the duo of redshirt junior Nolan Henderson and junior Thryrick Pitts connected on back-to-back plays, first for 27 then 28 yards, to
help set up sophomore Ryan Coe's first of two field goals of the night.

Henderson was efficient, completing 11-of-19 for 167 yards and a touchdown, while Pitts hauled in five catches for 87 yards, marking 16-straight games with a reception.
Delaware got another two late scores in the first half as Lee found the end zone for a second time on a 14-yard carry and a redshirt junior Riah Burton interception helped
set up a Pitts touchdown catch in the half's final seconds.

The Blue Hens came out of the half-time locker room on a tear, as Lee broke off a 53-yard run to help set up a Henderson touchdown on a sneak play from the one-yard
line to make it 31-0.
Delaware State did not go away in the second half, blocking two punts that would set up Hornet touchdowns.

The Blue Hens' defense made a stand late in the fourth when redshirt junior Jack Dinicola ended a Delaware State drive deep in Delaware territory with an interception to
seal the win.

Redshirt sophomore Noah Plack was all over the field for the defense, making a season-high eight stops while junior Johnny Buchanan and sophomore Liam Trainer each
added five. Redshirt junior Colby Reeder returned to the Delaware lineup after missing all of last season, making three tackles and picking up a sack.

Delaware has now scored in 17-consecutive quarters and start the season 4-0 for the first time since 2012. It is also the first time since 2005 that the Blue Hens have
scored 30-plus points in the first four games of the season.

All eyes turn to the Battle of the Blue as the Blue Hens travel to Villanova next week for a 1 p.m. kickoff and a chance at a CAA North title.

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Blue Hens excited to be coming to Dover
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

4/8/21

NEWARK — If there’s anybody who thinks Delaware shouldn’t be going to Delaware State to play a football game, Blue Hens coach Danny Rocco isn’t one of them.

“I told our team the other day, I’m really glad we’re going down there,” Rocco said on Monday. “We should go down there. Why the heck wouldn’t we go down there? I don’t understand that.”

For whatever reason it’s worked out this way, it has taken until the 10th meeting between the Hens and Hornets for the Route 1 Rivalry to make it to Dover.

No. 8 Delaware (3-0) will play Delaware State (2-1) in Alumni Stadium for the first time on Saturday at 6 p.m. The contest is being televised nationally on ESPN-2.

The Hens, who are 9-0 against the Hornets, know why this is a big game for DSU. But they say it’s a big game for them, too.

Delaware, which is trying to earn a berth in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs, has had games canceled in two of the last three weeks.

“They have a lot of enthusiasm right now for this game,” Rocco said about the Hornets. “I know our team has a lot of enthusiasm right now for this game. We’re looking forward, obviously, to playing this game.”

Delaware defensive end Frank Burton III may have as much appreciation for this rivalry as anyone in the Hens’ program.

Burton, whose brother Riah also plays for Delaware, is the son of Frank Burton II, a DSU Sports Hall of Famer.

“We’re so deeply rooted in Delaware and Delaware sports,” said Burton III, a William Penn High grad. “So it’s just great to go back to my father’s alma mater and compete against the school that he once set his footsteps in. It’s going to be an exciting matchup.

“I’ve always had a great appreciation for this game because it definitely highlights and showcases what Delaware football players and what the state of Delaware brings to the game of football. Even growing up, I felt as though our talent and what our state had to offer was always overshadowed or overlooked.

“I feel like, with this game being showcased on ESPN-2, it just really highlights what people and players and coaches — just everybody from Delaware — can offer to the game.”

“I feel as though it’s a great opportunity for both teams,” agreed running back Khory Spruill. “It’s a great opportunity to show everybody in the country what Delaware football is about.”

Spruill back on track

Four years ago, Spruill seemed to have a promising career stretched out in front of him.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior ran for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a freshman in 2017.

But Spruill’s career got off track and the DeMatha Catholic grad ran for just a total of 71 yards over the next two seasons.

This spring, though, after Will Knight decided to transfer, Spruill finds himself as Delaware’s No. 2 back behind only standout Dejoun Lee. In just three games, Spruill has put up 168 yards on 32 carries.

“I think he’s come a long way,” said Rocco. “He was always a guy that we saw a lot of talent in and a lot of value in. Like most of our lives, they’re not necessarily a straight path. There’s been ups and downs. He’s experienced some hardship, he’s experienced a lot of injuries and setbacks.”

Rocco said even in 2019, when the Hens had their share of depth at running back. he was telling his assistant coaches to go back and look at Spruill’s tape from his freshman season and high school.

“I said, ‘This kid can run the football,’” said Rocco.

Rocco also said that Spruill has become a better blocker and pass catcher, which makes it a lot easier to keep him on the field. The fact that his physical, straight-ahead style offers a contrast to the 5-foot-7, 185-pound Lee doesn’t hurt either.

“It feels amazing to finally be out there with my brothers and playing the game we love to play,” said Spruill. “I know it took a while to get here but I can’t be more excited. I’m kind of old now but I still feel young.

“I love it,” Spruill said about his partnership with Lee. “I feel it’s a great balance of speed and power. I think we both bring great energy to this team every day. ... Me and Dejoun came in at the same time so we’ve really talked about this for years. To finally have this come to fruition feels amazing.”

Moving on

Rocco talked a good deal on Monday about having games canceled this season while programs are dealing with the pandemic.

Along with the UD-Albany contest, three other CAA games were called off on Saturday. Only one league game was played.

Rocco said coaches understand that decisions are being made based on what’s best for each program.

“There is no judgment, there is no second-guessing,” he said. “There is nothing but this is what’s in the best interest for our team right now.”

“There are no rules into how all this works. We all have guidelines and conversations but there’s no rules.”

Extra points

Delaware won’t be staying in Dover on Friday night but will bus down from Newark a few hours before the game because of COVID-19 protocols. ... Rocco complimented DSU coach Rod Milstead on his approach to building the Hornets. “I think Coach Milstead is doing a great job. ... He’s trying to build it from the foundation. The hardest thing to do is to be able to sustain it. But you have no chance of sustaining it if you don’t build that foundation.” ... Rocco said Burton III has been a very mature leader for Delaware. “Frank’s like a 40-year-old guy talking about life issues. ... We trust Frank. What’s leadership look like? Well, it looks like Frank Burton.”

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Football in spring is uncertain business

April 2, 2021
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

Coach Danny Rocco and the Blue Hens aren’t playing anybody on Saturday. Albany decided to cancel the rest of its season — not necessarily because of COVID-19 issues but because it had too many injuries.

We knew this was going to be an uncertain college football season when it started.

Anybody paying attention to the major-college schedule in the fall, knows that — during a pandemic — games get canceled, postponed and sometimes rescheduled without any notice.

Sometimes it feels like you can’t be 100-percent certain that a game is going to be played until the two teams actually take the field.

This weekend is a pretty good example.

A week ago, if you looked at the local schedule for this weekend, you’d have seen that Delaware was hosting Albany on Saturday and that both Delaware State and Wesley College were off.

So, of course, none of that ended up being true.

The Wolverines ended up playing at Christopher Newport on Friday night after the game was postponed last Sunday for various reasons — none of which had anything to do with COVID-19 issues.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are slated to face MEAC rival Howard Saturday at 1 p.m. That contest was originally postponed on March 27 — with no sign that it would be made up.

And the Blue Hens aren’t playing anybody on Saturday. Albany decided to cancel the rest of its season — not necessarily because of COVID-19 issues but because it had too many injuries.

Delaware coach Danny Rocco was asked a couple weeks ago about the guidelines CAA programs were using for canceling games. At the time, the Hens had just had a game at New Hampshire called off.

Rocco said there was an agreement within the league as to how many players a team had to have available at each position to play a game.

“It was a pretty bare-bones kind of a model,” he said. “And we all signed off on it as to what we would adhere to.”

But the last clause of the agreement also stipulated that schools could also cancel a game if they felt it was not in their best interest to play.

“It’s so hard to assess where someone is short,” said Rocco. “Is a school short at a certain position? Is it just a position’s been depleted? Is it a random (virus) outbreak?

“There’s really more unknowns than knowns. That information isn’t necessarily shared. I have spoken to no one from New Hampshire, to be quite frank. After I got the information (about the cancellation) I tried to quickly move forward. Spending time trying to figure out what’s going on up there doesn’t really help our cause.”

=====================================================

Blue Hens #7 in FCS Committee Rankings

4/1/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – The FCS Committee unveiled its top-10 rankings Thursday night with the University of Delaware football program checking in at No. 7.

The Blue Hens have an open weekend after coming off a 35-21 victory at No. 18 Rhode Island behind redshirt senior Dejoun Lee's huge afternoon, rushing for 221 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. He became the eighth player in program history to rush for over 200 yards in a single game. 

Defensively, sophomore Chase McGowan was a force, living in the Rams' backfield. He had four tackles, all for loss, including three sacks in the win. Both McGowan and Lee earned CAA Weekly honors, with McGowan claiming Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Lee awarded Offensive Player of the Week. 

The Delaware defense ranks second in all of the FCS in scoring defense, surrendering just 8.0 points per game and the offense has now scored in 13 straight quarters, dating back to the 2019 season. 

The Blue Hens will be on national display April 10 when they travel to Dover for the first time to take on Delaware State in the Route 1 Rivalry presented by DE529 - Education Savings Plan on ESPN 2 at 6 p.m.

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Hens' game with Albany on 4/3/21 canceled
4/1/ 2021 
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Delaware has lost another spring football game — off the field, not on it.

The Blue Hens’ home game with Albany, scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled because the Great Danes have opted out of the rest of their season.

Delaware (3-0), which is ranked No. 8 nationally in the FCS, also had a CAA game with New Hampshire canceled earlier this season due to COVID-related reasons.

The Hens have two games remaining: at Delaware State on April 10 and at Villanova on April 17.

“CAA Football respects and supports the difficult decision made by UAlbany to opt out of the football season for the remainder of the Spring,” CAA commissioner Joe’D’Antonio said in a released statement. “UAlbany’s scheduled games with Delaware on April 3 and Villanova on April 10 have been canceled and the conference will announce any scheduling adjustments as necessary.”

Albany officials said they made the decision to cancel the program's last two spring football games because of the number of injuries its players have sustained.

"We are all competitive people and have done everything in our power to play a full spring season," said Great Danes coach Greg Gattuso. "While disappointed we won't see that happen, we are fully supportive of this decision. It all comes down to the health and safety of our student-athletes. I am so proud of our team for their efforts complying with all safety protocols and University guidelines dating back to the Fall semester and up to this point."

College games being canceled during the pandemic are not uncommon, of course. Albany was 1-3 after losing its last three games.

The CAA as a league has had eight games canceled this spring, including two by James Madison, which is ranked No. 1 in the country. CAA member Towson opted not to play at all this spring.

Chattanooga, which was 3-2 and had been (ranked) nationally, opted out of the rest of its season because of players being sidelined by COVID.
==========================================

Blue Hens Game Against UAlbany on 4/3/21 has been Cancelled
bluehens.com 3/31/2021 

RICHMOND, Va. – CAA Football has announced that this Saturday's football game between Delaware and UAlbany in Newark has been cancelled due to UAlbany's decision to opt-out of the remainder of the 2021 spring season.

Ticket holders for Saturday's game are welcome to attend an open practice inside Delaware Stadium for an in-person look at the Blue Hens on Saturday at 11 a.m. Tickets for the original game will be required for Saturday's event and there will be no in-person sales. Ticket holders will be contacted directly regarding refund options. 

Masks covering the nose and mouth are required for the duration of your stay on the UD campus and in Delaware Stadium. Additional fan gameday health and safety protocols can be found here. 

Attendance policies were developed by UD Athletics and the University's Health Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the state of Delaware. 

These updated attendance policies are subject to change based upon COVID-19 health & safety measures.

===============================================

Rocco: Hens, Henderson have a ‘high ceiling’
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News 3/28/21

Danny Rocco says he knows what Nolan Henderson is capable of.

There are times when the Delaware quarterback seems like just a highlight-reel play waiting to happen.

“Watch the Rhode Island game from last year (in 2019),” said Rocco, the Blue Hens’ football coach. “He makes two plays in that game where you’re like, ‘Oh wow.’ Like, I don’t know who can make that play.’

“We all know that Nolan is an ‘Oh wow’ player,” Rocco added. “He is. ... Those players are still out there.”

Rocco was making the point that he knows that Henderson and Delaware’s offense still haven’t shown everything they’re capable of in their first two games.

The No. 11 Hens (2-0) might need more in today’s noon CAA showdown at No. 18 Rhode Island (2-0).

Delaware has put up 68 points in its first two games. But with both contests under control pretty early, the Hens also haven’t been pushed to their limit, either.

Rocco, though, say he sees a lot of potential — especially on offense.

“At our best, we are really good,” he said. “I’ve had teams that are good because they’re consistent. Or they’re solid because they’re fundamentally sound. Their ceiling is only so high.

“This team has a high ceiling. This is a team that’s capable of doing a lot of things really well.”

As for Henderson, the Smyrna High grad has completed 34-of-51 passes for 361 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He’s also flashed his trademark escapability but has only 33 yards and a TD on 12 carries to show for it.

But Rocco says he’s confident that Henderson is capable of doing more if that’s what’s needed in the moment.

“The big, long explosive (plays) haven’t been there quite as much as I see them in practice,” Rocco said about his teams’ offense overall. “You see those things in practice on a pretty consistent basis. I’ve seen Nolan hit Thyrick (Pitts) down the field numerous times where literally I say, ‘That’s about as good as it gets.’

“You’d like to think, in those moments when you need that, it’s there.”

==============================================

Lee Runs Wild to Lift #11 Blue Hens Over #18 URI, 35-21

3/27/2021 - Bluehens.com

KINGSTON, R.I. – Redshirt senior Dejoun Lee ran for 221 yards and the No. 11 University of Delaware football team racked up 551 yards of total offense to take down No. 18 Rhode Island, 35-21, Saturday afternoon at Meade Stadium.

"We're certainly excited and happy to come out of here with a win against a competitive team that was off to a good start," said head coach Danny Rocco. "I thought the best way to go after them was to run the ball and Dejoun and Khory (Spruill) did their part and the offensive line really paved the way."

Lee put together a day of 22 carries for a career-high 221 yards, third-most in a single game in the FCS this season, and two scores, including touchdowns of 74 and 35 yards. It is the first time since 2016, when Wes Hills ran for 242 against Maine, that a Blue Hen rushed for over 200 yards in a game and the most total yards of offense since 2010 against Towson. It marks the 15th time in program history a Blue Hen has rushed for 200-plus yards in a single game and Lee is the eighth player to do so. 

The Blue Hens (3-0, 3-0 CAA) set the tone early as junior Kedrick Whitehead forced and recovered a fumble on a completed pass to set up the offense in Rhode Island (2-1, 2-1 CAA) territory. Delaware was faced with an early decision on a fourth-down play early, and the gamble payed off when Lee broke free on fourth-and-1 to go 35 yards for the first score of the day.

It took 142 defensive plays, but the Delaware defense finally surrendered a touchdown in 2021 as Rhode Island was able to tie things at 7-7, late in the first quarter.

The Blue Hens broke the tie late in the second quarter after putting together a 12-play, 6:18 drive that included eight run plays, capped-off by the 1-yard touchdown by redshirt sophomore Anthony Paoletti to make it 14-7 heading into the half.

The offense was clicking again to open the second half, converting on the Blue Hens' third fourth-down play of the afternoon, and second fourth-down touchdown of the game when redshirt junior Nolan Henderson rolled out and hit junior Bryce De Maille who made a juggling catch and run for a 22-yard score.

Henderson was 17-of-22 for 190 yards and two touchdowns while De Maille hauled in three catches for 39 yards.

The defense forced another quick Rhode Island Punt and Henderson connected with junior Thyrick Pitts for a 37-yard gain on third-and-3 to eventually set up a four-yard touchdown pass for the same duo to make it 28-7 late in the third quarter.

Pitts has now caught a pass in 15-straight contests, grabbing four for 64 yards on the afternoon. Redshirt junior Khory Spruill also had a big day rushing with 15 carries and a career-high 88 yards, including a run of 51 yards.

The Rams did not go away, immediately responding with a 62-yard pass to set up a one-yard touchdown run to get back into the game before the end of the third quarter. It was Lee responding with another huge play as the offensive line opened up a hole for Lee to go untouched, 74 yards for the score.

The defense did it again on the next Rhode Island possession as redshirt sophomore Joe Zubillaga intercepted his second pass in as many weeks for the exclamation point.

The Blue Hens picked up 27 first down and ran 80 plays, controlling the ball for 41:34, the second-longest in a single game in program history.

Defensively, junior Johnny Buchanan led the way with five tackles, while Whitehead had four stops, including a tackle for loss, and sophomore Chase McGowan had two sacks.

The Blue Hens return home next weekend, hosting UAlbany for a noon kickoff at Delaware Stadium. Ticket information can be found here.

For the latest on the Delaware football program, follow the Blue Hens on Twitter @DelawareFB and Instagram @DelawareFootball, and like "Delaware Football" on Facebook.

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Lee runs for 221 yards, Delaware beats Rhode Island 35-21

apnews.com/Collegefootball - March 28, 2021

KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) Dejoun Lee had two touchdown runs and a career-high 221 yards rushing to lead Delaware to a 35-21 victory over Rhode Island on Saturday.

Delaware (3-0, 3-0 Colonial Athletic Association ), ranked No. 11 in the STATS FBC Top 25, is off to its best start since the 2012 season.

Lee scored on a 35-yard run on the Blue Hens' fourth play from scrimmage . He broke loose on a 74-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that stretched the lead to 35-14. The senior finished with 22 carries. Khory Spruill added 88 yards rushing on 15 carries.

Nolan Henderson threw a pair of touchdown passes and finished 17 of 22 for 190 yards for the Blue Hens. Bryce De Maille made a one-handed catch and ran 22 yards into the end zone, and Thyrick Pitts added a 4-yard TD catch. Each reception capped 10-play drives in the third quarter.

Brandon Robinson threw for 85 yards and added 43 yards on the ground with touchdown runs from 13 and 1 yard for 18th-ranked Rhode Island (2-1).

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Hens’ Pawlowski doesn’t let being a walk-on keep him from starting

By Andy Walter - Delaware State News - 3/25/21

NEWARK — Andrew Pawlowski never really expected to be a college football player.

And even when he walked on as a freshman at Delaware, he wondered what he was getting himself into.

“When I first got here, the first practice I saw Nasir Adderley, Troy Reeder and Bilal Nichols,” said Pawlowski, naming his former UD teammates that are all now in the NFL. “I was like, there’s no way I could possibly start here, whatsoever.”

Yet, here the senior is, a first-year starter at the KAT linebacker spot for the No. 11 Blue Hens (2-0), who have a noon CAA showdown at No. 18 Rhode Island (2-0) on Saturday.

Not only is Pawlowski starting, but he was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after posting a career-high nine tackles in Delaware’s 31-3 win over Stony Brook two weeks ago. That was a pretty big accomplishment for a player who had just 12 tackles in first three seasons combined.

“He’s doing a great job,” said UD coach Danny Rocco. “With every week through the fall and into the winter and into the start of spring. ... it became more and more apparent that he’s the guy. He’s the guy who’s going to man this position. He’s got all the skills set to do that.

“He’s really taken a lot of pride in his ability to master the wide range of techniques that that player has to be able to play.”

Rocco said that with Pawlowski solidifying that KAT spot on the defense, it allows other players — especially the Hens’ safeties — to just focus on their own responsibilities.

A former safety who stands 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Pawlowski can do a little bit of everything, depending on what’s needed on any particular play.

Despite Pawlowski’s more prominent role now, he said he’s never lost the underdog mentality that comes with being a walk-on.

While he was put on scholarship last fall, Pawlowski is back to non-scholarship status because of the number of players in the program right now.

“When you come in as a walk-on, you understand that you’re probably not necessarily getting every single opportunity,” he said. “You’re going to have to earn your way. I think just having that kind of mentality — knowing that nothing is just going to be given to you — definitely pushed me. ... It makes you want to just keep going and achieve a lot more.

“I think I’ve done a good job and earned what I’ve been given. I just want to keep pushing myself. ... Just being able to (start) right now with the guys I’m next to, I mean it’s an amazing feeling.”

At Huntingtown (Md.) High, Pawlowski always thought he’d end up playing baseball in college. But a new football head coach his senior year convinced him to send out a recruiting tape to a few schools.

He was already interested in UD as a student. So when they recruited him as a walk-on, he said he signed right away.

“It really just sort of fell into my lap,” said Pawlowski. “But I think I would have been here even if football hadn’t been an option. I guess that’s also part of the reason why I stayed motivated. I know, even if football wasn’t here, I would still love being in this school.”

Moving on

Rocco said it was after practice last Tuesday evening that he first heard there might be a problem with the Hens’ game last week.

He got a text from Delaware athletic director Chrissi Rawak saying ‘Coach, give me a call regarding New Hampshire.’

“I kind of knew what that might have meant,” said Rocco.

By 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the CAA announced that the contest, slated for last Saturday at New Hampshire, had been canceled due to COVID issues with the Wildcats.

Delaware looked into a finding a new opponent for the spot but Rocco also said he’s not sure what game he would have agreed to.

Having games canceled at the last minute is just part of the pandemic landscape, of course. UNH has called off its game with Villanova this Saturday, as well, while James Madison previously had two games canceled.

Rocco thought the best think he could was get his players quickly moving on and preparing for this week’s matchup with Rhode Island.

“It was just, we’re on to the next one,” said Rocco. “We can sit here and ‘what if,’ and ‘how do you feel?’ and all those kinds of things. But really, when it’s all said and done, the sooner you can be on to the next opponent, the better off you are. I made a really big deal about that Thursday and Saturday.”

One man’s highlight ...

Mateo Vandamia’s touchdown two weeks ago against Stony Brook, in which he picked up a teammate’s fumble and ran it 21 yards in the end zone, was the kind of highlight people wanted to watch a few times.

But you’ll excuse receiver Gene Coleman if he was the one Delaware player who wasn’t thrilled to see the play again.

That’s because he was the player who fumbled the ball after a 16-yard reception and run.

“You can ask anybody, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to this game,” said Coleman. “But when you’re chasing perfection, you also have to realize that perfection is just not possible. ... I don’t dwell on my mistakes, I move past it.

“Maybe three minutes after Mateo scored that touchdown, there’s a picture of me smiling on the sidelines. I couldn’t believe it. That’s the second time I’ve fumbled in like the last nine years of my life. Look, we scored a touchdown so I couldn’t be too mad about it but I still expect better of myself.”

Coleman, who is the Hens’ leading receiver with 11 catches for 113 yards, would rather remember the 21-yard scoring pass he caught from Nolan Henderson in the season-opening win over Maine. For some reason, the Black Bears’ defense left him basically uncovered on the roll-out play.

“It was probably one of the easiest touchdowns I’ve ever had,” said Coleman.

Extra points

Delaware moved up one spot to No. 11 in Monday’s Stats FCS national poll. No. 1 James Madison (3-0) is still the only CAA squad ranked ahead of the Hens. ... Rocco said there were three players who wouldn’t have traveled to UNH but are expected to play this week ... Including Vandamia’s fumble return, all four of Henderson’s scoring passes this spring have officially covered 21 yards.
=================================================

FB vs. DSU on ESPN2

bluehens.com - 3/25/2021

Route 1 Rivalry to Air on ESPN2
Blue Hens first trip to Dover to be broadcast live on national TV

Story LinksDOVER, Del. – The University of Delaware football program will put its unbeaten record in the Route 1 Rivalry on the line April 10 at Alumni Stadium on national television as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference announced Thursday that the game will air on ESPN 2 at 6 p.m.

The No. 11/9 Blue Hens have appeared on ESPN's streaming services numerous times over the years, but it marks the first time since the 2010 FCS National Championship game that they will appear nationally on the four-letter network.

Delaware is 9-0 in the Route 1 Rivalry and defeated the Hornets to open the 2019 season at Delaware Stadium by a 31-13 final. 

Before facing the national spotlight, the Blue Hens face their first road test of the season as they travel to Rhode Island for a noon kickoff this Saturday. 

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Blue Hens Move Up a Spot in Both National Polls
3/23/21  - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – Following an unexpected open week, the University of Delaware football team has moved up one spot in both major FCS Top-25 Polls, checking in at No. 11 in the Stats Perform FCS Top-25 and No. 9 in the AFCA Coaches' Poll. 

The Blue Hens have outscored their first two opponents, 68-3, and rank first in the FCS in scoring defense, surrendering just 1.5 points per game, and fifth nationally in total defense, allowing just 192.0 yards per game. 

Redshirt senior Dejoun Lee opened the season in style, taking back the season-opening kickoff for a touchdown to earn CAA Special Teams Player of the Week after the opening weekend. Senior Andrew Pawlowski followed that up with a 
nine-tackle performance in week two's victory over Stony Brook to take home CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors. 

Delaware was named the Stats Perform Team of the Week, following week one's shutout of Maine. 

The Blue Hens face their first road test of the season at a familiar site, traveling to 
No. 18/21 Rhode Island for a noon kickoff Saturday, where the teams played a triple-overtime thriller in 2019. 
=============================================

Blue Hen football game at New Hampshire postponed by COVID

March 17, 2021
Delaware State News

After a smooth start to the spring season, the Delaware football team has hit its first big bump in the road.

The Blue Hens’ CAA game at New Hampshire on Saturday has been postponed because of COVID protocols within the Wildcats’ program.

Delaware looked into scheduling another game on Saturday but couldn’t find another opponent. The Hens don’t haven’t any open dates in what is now a six-game spring schedule.

The Hens (2-0) are ranked No. 12 in the country in NCAA Division FCS while the Wildcats (0-1) are No. 20. Delaware’s next game is now slated for March 27 at Rhode Island.

The pandemic has caused other FCS games to be postponed this spring. No. 1-ranked James Madison has had its last two CAA games canceled by COVID protocols.

======================================================

Hens keep cruising in dumping Stony Brook 31-3
March 13, 2021 
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Danny Rocco had a message for his players on Saturday afternoon.

Two games into this unique spring football season, it’s becoming clear that some teams are more ready to play than others.

After handling Stony Brook, 31-3, at Delaware Stadium, No. 19 Delaware certainly is playing like one of the FCS squads that has its act together right now.

The Blue Hens (2-0) have out-scored their first two CAA opponents by a combined 68-3.

Against the Seawolves (0-2), Delaware forced five turnovers, got three touchdown passes from quarterback Nolan Henderson and was never seriously challenged after the first quarter.

But Rocco’s message to the Hens was that, as good as things have gone so far, they need to play better if they’re serious about accomplishing some big things this spring.

“When we all started this spring, people were looking at this spring season from a lot of different vantage points,” said Rocco. “Our mindset was, we’re all in.

“I didn’t want to kill their joy but I wanted them to understand that we were going to have to play better. The thing that’s neat is that we’re one of the good teams. I’m not saying we’re the best or we’re at the top, or anything like that. But, when you just look around, what you’re noticing is that — because of a lot of different factors — some teams are just going to have a hard time being good this spring.

“We’re not one of those teams,” the veteran coach concluded. “We’re going to have a chance to be good this spring — as evidenced by our two games. So, to be good, we’re going to have to be better than we’ve been here the last two weeks.”

Maybe the scariest thing to happen to Delaware on Saturday was seeing quarterback Nolan Henderson stay down on the ground after taking a hard hit to the leg after throwing a pass in the first quarter. But the Smyrna High grad only missed a couple plays before looking fine the rest of the afternoon.

Henderson completed 18-of-27 passes for 215 yards with the three TDs and no interceptions. The junior QB said he took a helmet to his shin, not his knee, as it looked like it might have been.

“Any time you get hit below the knee, it shocks you a little bit,” said Henderson. “But I tried to stay moving and I was able to push through it.”

Actually one of Henderson’s scoring passes didn’t even end up in the hands of his original target.

With Delaware already leading 17-3 in the third quarter, Henderson hit Gene Coleman with a short pass and the receiver made one defender miss but then fumbled as he tried to gain more yards.

Teammate Mateo Vandamia scooped up the loose ball and returned it the remaining 21 yards for the touchdown. The whole play covered 37 yards,

A sophomore, Vandamia is a tight end who converted to running back because the Hens are short-handed there right now. Rocco said the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder also has played his share of rugby.

“I was just trying to get downfield and block for Gene,” said Vandamia. “And the ball landed in my lap.”

It was a big day for Vandamia. In the second quarter, he was left wide open coming out of the backfield and Henderson found him for a 21-yard completion and his first collegiate TD.

“It is one of those moments where the ball is in the air and you don’t want to be the guy who drops the wide-open pass,” said Vandamia. “But I just wanted to execute and finish and that’s what we did.”

Defensively, linebacker Dae’Lun Darien recovered a fumble and then intercepted a tipped pass a few plays later. The former Penn State transfer was a wide receiver for the Hens a year ago.

Four of the Sea Wolves’ turnovers came in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore safety Joe Zubillaga made a nice leaping interception in the closing minutes when it looked like Stony Brook had a chance to score the first touchdown against Delaware this spring.

“That’s always the best feeling,” said senior linebacker Andrew Pawlowski, who collected a game-high nine tackles. “We had our No. 2 defense in there, but guys made plays. We talk about, we’ve got to be able to bend and not break. That’s definitely what we did at the end there.”

The Hens finished with only a 318-272 edge in total yards and an 18-15 advantage in first downs.

Clearly, there’s still plenty of room for improvement from the Hens, who go to New Hampshire next Saturday. But they also say they’re determined to accomplish something this spring.

Already the Hens are the only squad in the seven-team CAA North without a league loss.

“We’re just treating it like another season,” said Henderson. “There’s playoffs and championships to be awarded and that’s what we want. Obviously it’s different with the protocols and all the rules you’ve got to follow.

“But at the end of the day, when you’re on the field, it’s just football.”

Extra points

Thyrick Pitts, who had six catches for 95 yards, also caught a 21-yard scoring pass from Henderson. ... Tight end Bryce DeMaille scored a TD on a one-yard sweep. It was his first career carry. ... UD leading rusher Dejoun Lee had only 35 yards on eight carries as eight players ran the ball for the Hens. ... Ryan Coe hit a 43-yard field goal for his for his fourth field goal of the season.

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Blue Hens’ Defense dominant in 31-3 victory over Stony Brook

March 13, 2021 - https://boxscorenews.com/

The University of Delaware defense created five turnovers and the Blue Hens scored 28-unanswered points Saturday afternoon to move to 2-0 after topping Stony Brook, 31-3, at Delaware Stadium.

"I'm very pleased with the result, it's two weeks in-a-row that our defense played really well, with a lot of passion, very physical and played smart," said head coach Danny Rocco. "Offensively, we flashed some moments today, but we are going to have to play better and we're going to have to continue to do the things that help you win football games."

The Blue Hens have yet to allow a touchdown this season, marking the first time they've kept opponents out of the end zone in the season's first two games since 2010.

That defense was all over the football all afternoon long, forcing Stony Brook into four fumbles, taking away three, and two interceptions. Redshirt senior Dae'Lun Darien had two of those takeaways, a fumble recovery and an interception on two-straight defensive plays.

Delaware got two touchdowns from do-it-all redshirt freshman Mateo Vandamia, who caught a pass for the Blue Hens' first touchdown of the game and scooped up a Delaware fumble and ran it in from 21-yards out.

Redshirt junior Nolan Henderson went 18-for-27 for 215 yards and three touchdowns, spreading it out to redshirt junior Thyrick Pitts who matched a career high with six grabs for 95 yards and senior Gene Coleman II who hauled in six catches for 65 yards.

Senior Andrew Pawlowski led the defensive efforts with a career-high nine tackles and redshirt sophomore Matt Palmer followed with seven stops and a sack.

It was a slow offensive start as team's traded field goals in the first quarter before Henderson hit a wide open Vandamia for a 21-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

The Delaware defense did its part, forcing Stony Brook to a three-and-out to get the Blue Hens the ball back. Redshirt senior Dejoun Lee broke off a 16-yard run down to the 1-yard line to set up a Bryce De Maille rushing touchdown on his first career carry.

It was the defense again making a huge play as redshirt freshman Nick Coomer recovered a fumble before the defense forced the Seawolves to a turnover on downs on the next possession, right before the half.

The teams traded empty possessions in the third, before Henderson hit an open Coleman who made a move and fumbled the ball, but Vandamia was in the right place at the right time and scooped it up en route to the end zone.

Henderson matched his career high in touchdown passes when he hit Pitts in the back of the end zone from 21-yards out, making an acrobatic catch and falling to the turf. Redshirt sophomore Joe Zubillaga quickly gave Delaware possession back, intercepting his first career pass on the next Stony Brook possession.

Sophomore Chase McGowan and Jordan Morris made it four-straight Seawolves' possessions with a turnover when Morris forced it out of the Stony Brook quarterback's hands and into the hands of McGowan who ran it 27-yards before being chased down.

The Blue Hens will have their first road test next week when they travel to face New Hampshire at Wildcat Stadium.

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UD football returns: Hens start fast, don’t look back in cruising past Maine 37-0
March 6, 2021 
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Delaware’s football players had waited 469 days to play a real game again.

It took Dejoun Lee just 13 seconds to give them a lead.

The senior running back returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown and it was all smooth sailing from there as the Blue Hens breezed to a 37-0 CAA victory over Maine in the first game of their unique spring season at almost-empty Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

For whatever reason, Delaware — wearing all-black uniforms for the first time — looked like it was ready to play and the Black Bears didn’t in the first game for both squads in the pandemic era.

After Lee’s opening TD, the Hens scored 10 points in each of the last three quarters to win going away.

“It’s been a long, long journey,” said coach Danny Rocco. “Our players have made a lot of sacrifices — their families have, our coaches have.

“I talked to the team before the game about, ‘Let’s honor everybody. Let’s honor these people (the trainers and other UD staff) with our performance today. And then honor your teammates, who have also sacrificed in a big way.’”

“It was just truly a great feeling to get back on the field, all of us just wanting to play football,” said linebacker Johnny Buchanan. “It was a great time. We had a lot of fun out there. It’s always great to start a season on a high note.

“It’s been about 470 days since we got to play the game that we love. You just go out there and you’re kind of overwhelmed.”

Delaware out-gained Maine, 370-112, in total yards and 21-6 in first downs.

Veteran quarterback Nolan Henderson mostly looked sharp, completing 16-of-24 for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Smyrna High grad also dove one yard for a touchdown but did throw a red-zone interception to kill a long drive.

Lee scored twice, finishing with 85 yards on 14 carries, to go along with his kickoff return.

As for that touchdown on the first play of the day, Delaware’s players took the field well before Maine’s, who had to walk over from the Fieldhouse.

Rocco, whose team got dressed in nine different locker rooms, actually thought maybe he got his players out there too soon.

“I’m not going to screw this up and be late,” joked Rocco. “I was going to err on the side of being early. So I was sitting out there going, ‘My gosh, did I come out here too early?’ Sure enough, they were late.

“So we had a little edge right there. There was a little bit of a mental awareness. Our kids were a little more in the moment. And then Dejoun, obviously made a good run.

“It helped me relax a little bit,” Rocco said about the quick TD. “Sometimes that actually matters.”

“When you can start a game like that — start a season — that’s just the spark that any team needs,” said Buchanan. “We fed off that and just kept rolling.”

Defensively, there wasn’t much to complain about as the Hens posted the shutout in Manny Rojas’ debut as defensive coordinator.

The Black Bears converted just 2-of-14 third-down opportunities and held the ball for only 21:46. Maine QB Joey Fagnano, who had a standout freshman season in 2019, completed only 10-of-23 for 61 yards.

“Our defense really never felt threatened,” said Rocco.

“We were very disciplined and coordinated. And we tackled well. Those are three things right there that go a long way. We’ve done more leverage drills here than we’ve ever done.”

The Hens were even better than Maine on special teams, with Ryan Coe good on three of four field attempts on the brisk, windy March afternoon. Delaware even recovered a pair of fumbled punt returns, one at the one-yard line to set up a quick touchdown. Center Mickey Henry said, if the Hens played with a sense of urgency, it’s because they felt they had to. This is only a seven-game schedule for Delaware in the spring with a chance to make the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs at the end.

“Every game is pretty much a playoff game,” said Henry. “One game could be an elimination game.

“Today we wanted to make a statement — that we’re here to play football and we’re to play physical, we’re here to play fast. We’re here to jump on people.

“The special thing with this team is that everyone just hunkered down and we all stayed together,” he said about dealing with the pandemic. “That makes us want to play for each other even more. I think what this team has that’s different from everyone else is that we’re just so close to each other.”

And the all-black uniforms? Henry thought they made the Hens look good — especially the offensive linemen.

“It’s just a little style statement,” Henry quipped. “For offensive linemen, I think we looked good out there. We looked a little skinnier, a little faster, so I can’t complain.”

Extra points

Seven different players caught passes for Delaware, led by Gene Coleman, who had five catches for 48 yards, including a 21-yard TD reception from Henderson. ... Besides Lee, Khoury Spruill ran for 47 yards on 10 carries. ... Buchanan and fellow linebacker Liam Trainer both had a team-high five tackles. ... Delaware is at home again next Saturday with a noon game against Stony Brook, which lost to Villanova, 16-13, on Saturday in its opener.

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Blue Hens’ secondary ready to redeem itself
March 2, 2021 
By Andy Walter - DELAWARE STATE NEWS

NEWARK — Kedrick Whitehead was considered a pretty good safety for Delaware in 2019.

But even the former Middletown High standout will tell you he had a lot to learn.

After all, Whitehead had been a linebacker for the Blue Hens the year before.

“It being my first year, I was focused on making sure I was doing the right things that I needed to do,” the 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior said on Monday. “Now I’m playing much faster, I’m playing more fluent and I don’t have any second guesses or second thoughts of ‘Am I doing this right or am I doing this wrong?’

“I can play faster, I can communicate better and I can just lead that defense the way it needs to be led.”

The Blue Hens are hoping that Whitehead’s development as a defensive back is just one reason their secondary should be better this spring.

Delaware will get some idea where it stands on Saturday when the Hens host Maine at noon in their Colonial Athletic Association spring football opener.

While the Black Bears were No. 1 in the CAA in passing offense in 2019 at 296.5 yards per game, Delaware was just 10th out of 12 teams in pass defense at 243.3.

Coach Danny Rocco knows his team’s pass defense wasn’t very good in 2019.

“We gave up way too many easy throws,” he said.

The Hens still have basically the same front-line players in the secondary — Whitehead and Noah Plack at safety with Nijuel Hill and Justus Henley at cornerback.

Delaware does have a new defensive coordinator in Manny Rojas, though. And Rocco believes that the extra practice time the Hens have had since they last played in November, 2019 will make a difference.

“I think the secondary is going to be that position where it’s going to dictate — to some extent — how different we are,” said Rocco. “I’m not sitting here saying that it’s going to be a slam dunk. But I think it’s going to be pretty telling.”

In 2019, Whitehead was a third-team All-CAA pick after leading Delaware with 102 tackles. He’s been named a second-team Preseason All-American by HERO Sports heading into the spring.

Whitehead said he’s pretty excited about the secondary’s potential right now.

“Me personally, I think our secondary that we have this year is second to none to anybody in the conference,” he said. “We should be great.”

Running backs carry on

Unfortunately for Delaware’s running backs, the most noteworthy thing to happen to them in the off-season was that their leading rusher in 2019, Will Knight, decided to leave the program.

But while he still considers Knight a friend, senior running back Dajoun Lee is excited about the Hens’ backfield talent.

“Will will always be my brother,” said Lee. “But we are absolutely ready to prove to everybody that nothing’s changed. This running back room is still the running back room that people need to fear. I can’t wait to prove a point on Saturday. I’m getting chills thinking about it.”

Lee has run for 1,069 in his two seasons with the Hens. He also thinks veteran Khory Spruill is ready to have a breakout season.

“That’s the guy to look out for,” said Lee. “He’s coming in hot.”

Lineup up in the air

Rocco made it clear again on Monday that even he won’t be quite sure which players will be available to play Saturday until late in the week.

Delaware’s 110 players, as well as its, staff are undergoing COVID-19 testing on both Monday and Wednesday. Even if they’re cleared, however, the players could be sidelined if they’ve been in contact with someone outside the program who tested positive.

Rocco said he knows he’ll be missing at least some starters on Saturday.

“In the moment, I still feel our roster’s got pretty good depth and pretty good balance,” he said. “It’s kind of the cards that we’re all dealt. ... There’s a lot of moment-to-moment, hour-to-hour, day-to-day conversations that are occurring.”

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Hens football team looks to be ready for anything
February 24, 2021 
By Andrew Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Danny Rocco thinks of his Delaware football roster as a “moving target.”

The Blue Hens’ coach just means that, in a world ruled by COVID-19 protocols, which players are cleared to practice at any given time is constantly evolving.

“It’s really day to day,” Rocco said before practice on Tuesday. “For a guy that prides himself on being very detailed and very organized. ... I’ve got to be able to recognize that what I put together at 8:30 in the morning might not fly at 3:30 in the afternoon.”

Such uncertainty at practice is one thing. But Delaware is getting ready to host Maine at noon on March 6 in its first real football game in about 16 months.

Having key players not cleared to play just before a game presents much more urgent problems for a coach.

Rocco said his staff has been doing more cross-training of players to try to prepare for any eventuality. Most of the time the players are just learning a fairly similar position. But Rocco said there have been a few “conversations and experiments” about moving a player from defense to offense, or vice versa.

“It’s going to be very much week to week,” he said. “You’ve got to assume that your opponents are dealing with something similar. But you don’t really know what they’re dealing with.

“I know within our roster, we’re really trying to be creative. And I think we started with it a while ago, probably even in the fall.”

Rocco said he’s even preparing the coaching staff for the possibility of having some of them miss games. He’s tried to make it so more of the coaches are able to call plays if need be.

The bottom line is that there’s a certain amount of mystery for every team playing spring football this year. Everyone’s been practicing against their own players for so long that they can’t really be sure how they stack up against another team.

“There’s more unknowns about your own team to some extent,” said Rocco. “And there’s more unknowns about your opponent. We’re certainly doing our due diligence and studying Maine. ... But then again, they might do something dramatically different.

“You’ve got to be a little more honed in on yourself I think — just in terms of ‘Are we where we need to be?’ It’s the old, control the things that you can control. In this environment right now, it’s less and less than what it’s been in the past.”

After an unprecedented long wait, though, the only way the Hens — or any other squad — are going to find out what they’ve got is to play a game again.

Finally.

“They’re excited to play,” Rocco said about his players. “It really feels like it has been forever.”

Henderson ready to go

The Maine game will be Nolan Henderson’s first time playing as Delaware’s full-time starting quarterback.

In the past two seasons, the Smyrna High grad has shared the job with Pat Kehoe.

Rocco said he likes what he’s seen from Henderson, who is considered a junior athletically.

“I think Nolan’s really good,” said Rocco. “I think he’s unique. He’s highly motivated, he’s very talented. He is chomping at the bit to really go out there and compete.”

But Rocco said he continues to be impressed with UD’s other quarterbacks, including East Carolina transfer Zach Gwynn from Salesianum, Anthony Paoletti and Cade Pribula. Considering the uncertainty of playing during a pandemic, Rocco said any one of them might end up contributing.

“They all bring a little something different to the table,” said Rocco. “I do think in a year where there’s a higher probability maybe that your starting quarterback doesn’t play every game, it’s nice to feel like we’ve got some different guys that can be ready in a week’s time or a second guy to go in a game.”

Extra points

Rocco said linebacker/end Colby Reeder won’t play against Maine. But Reeder, who missed the entire 2019 after having back surgery, is expected to play later in the spring ... Rocco said he’s been pleased with UD’s four freshman offensive linemen and expects them to play this spring. ... According to Rocco, the defensive line may be the deepest position on the squad.

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Blue Hens Ranked #13 Nationally in 2021 Spring Football Season

2/8/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – For the third straight season, the University of Delaware football program will begin the year ranked in the top-25 as HERO Sports released its preseason FCS poll and All-Americans Monday morning with the Blue Hens ranked 13th and junior Kedrick Whitehead selected as an All-American.

Whitehead led Delaware in tackles in 2019 with 102 stops on his way to earning Third Team All-CAA laurels. He has appeared in all but one game since arriving in Newark and was selected as a team captain by his peers ahead of the 2021 spring season.

With seven returning starters on offense and eight on the defensive unit, the Blue Hens have an experience group, primed to make a run at the postseason in Danny Rocco's fourth season.

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SIX CAA FOOTBALL TEAMS, FIVE PLAYERS RECEIVE HERO SPORTS PRESEASON HONORS
Rob Washburn - CAA.com
2/8/2021

RICHMOND, Va. (February 8, 2021) – Six CAA Football teams were ranked in the HERO Sports FCS Preseason Top 25 poll that was released on Monday, which was the most teams of any conference.

Defending CAA champion James Madison was ranked #4, followed by #5 Villanova, #12 UAlbany, #13 Delaware, #17 New Hampshire and #21 Elon. William & Mary was among others receiving votes.

Five CAA Football players were also selected to the HERO Sports FCS Preseason All-America team. Making the squad were James Madison offensive tackle Liam Fornadel, Richmond defensive lineman Kobie Turner, UAlbany linebacker Levi Metheny, Villanova linebacker Forrest Rhyne and Delaware defensive back Kedrick Whitehead.

James Madison welcomes back four starters on offense and three on defense from last year’s 14-2 squad that advanced to the FCS National Championship game for the third time in the past four years. The Dukes, who finished the 2019 campaign ranked #2 in the nation, have reached the FCS playoffs for six consecutive years.

Villanova returns eight starters on offense and six on defense from last season’s 9-4 squad that earned a berth in the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2016. Among the returnees for the Wildcats is quarterback Daniel Smith, who accounted for 48 total touchdowns a year ago.

UAlbany looks to continue to the momentum after posting a 9-5 overall mark, a best-ever second-place CAA finish, and reaching the second round of the FCS playoffs for the first time in 2019. Five starters return on offense and seven on defense for the Great Danes, including All-America running back Karl Mofor.

Delaware brings back an experienced team that includes eight returning starters on defense and seven regulars on offense. The Blue Hens are looking to make a return to the FCS playoffs after making the field in 2018.

New Hampshire features seven starters back on offense and seven on defense from last year’s 6-5 team. The Wildcats, who made 14 consecutive FCS playoff appearances from 2004-17, welcome legendary head coach Sean McDonnell back to the sidelines after missing last season with health issues.

Elon has seven starters returning on offense and eight on defense from last season’s 5-6 squad. Among the returnees is veteran quarterback Davis Cheek.

William & Mary welcomes back eight starters on offense and four on defense from a 5-7 team in 2019.

CAA Football’s six ranked teams was one more than the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which had five squads in the poll.

HERO Sports FCS Preseason Top 25 Poll
1. North Dakota State
2. South Dakota State
3. Weber State
4. James Madison
5. Villanova
6. Northern Iowa
7. Kennesaw State
8. Furman
9. Illinois State
10. North Carolina A&T
11. Austin Peay
12. Albany
13. Delaware
14. Eastern Washington
15. Nicholls
16. Southern Illinois
17. New Hampshire
18. Jacksonville State
19. The Citadel
20. Sam Houston
21. Elon
22. Monmouth
23. Wofford
24. Chattanooga
25. Southeastern Louisiana
Received votes: Alcorn State, UT Martin, SEMO, William & Mary

HERO SPORTS FCS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Offense
QB Eric Barriere, Eastern Washington
RB Jah-Maine Martin, North Carolina A&T
RB Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State
OL Drew Himmelman, Illinois State
OL Liam Fornadel, James Madison
OL PJ Burkhalter, Nicholls
OL Ty Whitworth, Weber State
OL Cordell Volson, North Dakota State
WR DeAngelo Wilson, Austin Peay
WR Isaiah Weston, Northern Iowa
WR Brandon Porter, Northern Arizona
TE Trae Barry, Jacksonville State

Defense
DL Kobie Turner, Richmond
DL Jermaine McDaniel, North Carolina A&T
DL Jared Brinkman, Northern Iowa
DL Trace Mascorro, Sam Houston
LB Bryson Armstrong, Kennesaw State
LB Levi Metheny, Albany
LB Forrest Rhyne, Villanova
LB Ryan Greenhagen, Fordham
DB Kordell Jackson, Austin Peay
DB Ferlando Jordan, Southeastern Louisiana
DB Michael Tutsie, North Dakota State
DB Kedrick Whitehead, Delaware

Special Teams
P DJ Arnson, Northern Arizona
K Luis Aguilar, Northern Arizona
LS Robert Soderholm, VMI
PR Montrell Washington, Samford
KR Lonnie Moore IV, Monmouth

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Blue Hens Football Coaches Show Returns this Spring

1/28/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – The Blue Hens Football Coaches Show will return for its 22nd season this spring as University of Delaware head coach Danny Rocco will join "Voice of the Blue Hens" Scott Klatzkin virtually Wednesday evenings throughout the season.

Fans can tune their dials to WDSD 94.7 FM to listen in as Rocco and Klatzkin discuss the Blue Hens football program from 7-8 p.m. Each episode will also include a student-athlete from the team and will be available the following day on iHeartRadio and @BlueHensRadio.

Additionally, the Blue Hens have added a non-conference contest for the 2021 spring season at Delaware State scheduled for April 10 in Dover.

With the shift to the spring, the football portion of the show will be joining the on-going basketball shows, featuring men's head coach Martin Ingelsby and women's head coach Natasha Adair.

Previously held at Klondike Kate's on Main Street in Newark, the show has adopted a virtual format for the 2020-21 academic year.

Full Blue Hens Football Coaches Show Schedule:
Joint Football/Basketball Shows
March 3
March 10
---
Football Shows
March 17
March 24
March 31
April 7
April 14

Delaware is currently going through a re-acclimation period with its student-athletes and will officially open preseason camp Feb. 5.

The 2021 spring football season kicks off for the Blue Hens March 6 when they host Maine inside Delaware Stadium. All ticket information can be found here.

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Rocco Addresses Media on CAA Football Virtual Media Day

1/27/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – Excitement and enthusiasm.

Those were the two words that kept rolling off of University of Delaware head football coach Danny Rocco's tongue Wednesday morning during CAA Football Virtual Media Day.

"We're excited to get back together and play," Rocco said. "This group is very committed to playing this season and playing this spring. We have a lot of really good leaders on this team and we've had a lot of opportunities to have really meaningful conversations about the significance of this spring season."

The Blue Hens return a number of key student-athletes from the 2019 squad, including seven on offense and eight defensively.

Included in those returning are redshirt junior quarterback Nolan Henderson, redshirt senior running back Dejoun Lee and junior defensive back Kedrick Whitehead.

"The most consistent thing we've had is enthusiasm when we're out there together," Rocco said. "Our kids are excited to be back together and that's been a constant with every opportunity we've had."

Part of that excitement stems from the depth Delaware has on both sides of the football. Rocco harped on the talent that the team has at tight end, wide receiver and running back offensively, and the options they will have on defense.

"We have depth at almost every position and when you're looking at a season that might be a little bit week-to-week, it's good to know you have depth," Rocco said.

Additionally, the Blue Hens welcome back Manny Rojas, now as the program's defensive coordinator. Rojas has been with Rocco for the last 10 seasons, excluding last year when he served as the defensive coordinator at Lafayette College.

"Manny really knows the ins-and-outs of our defense and it's allowed us to become more versatile," Rocco added. "We have more ways to address and solve problems and he's doing it with an awful lot of enthusiasm."

Delaware is currently going through a re-acclimation period with its student-athletes and will officially open preseason camp Feb. 5.

The CAA Football season kicks off for the Blue Hens March 6 when they host Maine inside Delaware Stadium. All ticket information can be found here.

For the latest on the Delaware football program, follow the Blue Hens on Twitter @DelawareFB and Instagram @DelawareFootball, and like "Delaware Football" on Facebook.

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Spring 2021 Football Ticket Sales Begin Feb. 1

1/25/2021 - bluehens.com

2021 SPRING SCHEDULE

NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware has announced its plan for ticketing ahead of the 2021 spring football season at Delaware Stadium, with sales beginning Feb. 1 for season ticket members.

While ticket and parking sales will begin for the Blue Hens' three home Colonial Athletic Association contests, it is yet to be determined if fans will be allowed to attend games. The University is working closely with the state of Delaware to determine if and how many fans will be able to enter Delaware Stadium on game days. 

If it is determined that fans are not allowed to attend games or if a game is canceled and not rescheduled, all ticket buyers will have the option to receive a refund, apply credit to their account or convert payments into a tax deductible donation to the Blue & Gold Fund.

Tickets and parking passes will be sold on an individual game basis and on-sale dates will be prioritized to reward loyalty and generosity based on years of being a season ticket member and giving to the Whitney Athletic Center project. Fans will receive their order date via email in advance of tickets going on sale. Season ticket members must place their order through BlueHens.com/tickets using their season ticket member account. There is a limit of four tickets and two parking passes per game.

If you are not a season ticket member and are interested in buying Spring 2021 football tickets or becoming a future season ticket member, click here.

Parking will be reserved in lots surrounding the west side of Delaware Stadium. At this time, tailgating will not be permitted prior to or after home games. The Blue VIP lot will not be in use this spring due to post-construction maintenance and the lots on Delaware Stadium's east side (Victory VIP, All-American VIP, All-Stars and The Nest) will not be available for fan parking.

Capacity inside Delaware Stadium will be reduced to allow for socially distant seating. Seats will be blocked into groups of two or four that are six-feet apart from the next blocking. 

Seating and parking plans remain subject to change based on state regulations and safety guidance. Any updates will be released on BlueHens.com and communicated to season ticket members as they become available. 

Full details on purchasing tickets, parking, and requirements for fans inside Delaware Stadium can be found at Fan Attendance and Ticket Information Central.

All Blue Hens home games will kick-off at noon inside Delaware Stadium, with the home-opener currently scheduled for March 6 against CAA foe Maine. 

Season tickets for fall of 2021 are available now. Current season ticket members can renew their seats through their online ticketing account. Anyone interested in becoming a season ticket member can explore seats by clicking here. Season tickets start as low as $72 per seat and multiple payment plan options are available.

For the latest on the Delaware football program, follow the Blue Hens on Twitter @DelawareFB and Instagram @DelawareFootball, and like "Delaware Football" on Facebook.


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Six Blue Hens Accounted for in NFL Playoffs

1/5/2021 - Bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware football program will have six representatives on display in the NFL postseason, beginning Saturday when Troy Reeder (2016-18) takes the field with the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round against the Seattle Seahawks. 

Other Blue Hens making a playoff appearance include Bilal Nichols (2014-17) of the Chicago Bears, along with head coach Matt Nagy (1997-2000) and assistant special teams coach Brian Ginn (1996-99 as a player, 2000-17 as a coach) who take on the New Orleans Saints Sunday at 4:40 p.m.

Kansas City Chiefs' general manager Brett Veach (1998-2001) has guided the defending World Champions back to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and will hold a first-round bye. Also on the Chiefs' staff is assistant quarterbacks coach Joe Bleymaier (2002-05).

Reeder is third on the Rams in tackles with 53 on the season, despite playing in just 13 games. He had double-digit tackles in four of the team's final six regular-season contests.

Nichols has upped his production in year three with the Bears, recording 39 tackles in 2020. He had a strong finish to the season, tallying 14 tackles, three sacks and an interception in his final four regular-season appearances. 

Also in the postseason, however injured, is Nick Boyle (2011-14) of the Baltimore Ravens. Boyle hauled in 14 receptions in 2020 before suffering a season-ending injury in week 10. 

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Blue Hens and CAA Announce Football Game Times
12/9/2020 Bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware football program, in conjunction with the Colonial Athletic Association, has released its conference game times for the upcoming spring 2021 season.

All Blue Hens home games will kick-off at noon inside Delaware Stadium, with the home-opener currently scheduled for March 6 against CAA foe Maine.

The Battle of the Blue will be the season finale, on the road at Villanova scheduled for 1 p.m. All other CAA contests will begin at noon.

Additional non-conference contests will be announced at a later date and all games are subject to change.

Ticketing updates and attendance policies will be determined and communicated at a future date if Delaware Athletics is permitted under University, state and local government rules/regulations to have fans attend games in the spring of 2021. Click here to sign up to stay up-to-date with Delaware Athletics.

Season tickets for fall of 2021 are available now. Current season ticket members can renew their seats through their online ticketing account. Anyone interested in becoming a season ticket member can explore seats by clicking here. Season tickets start as low as $72 per seat. Multiple payment plan options are available.

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25 years ago - Celebration of Champions: 1995 Football Undefeated Yankee Conference Champions:
11/24/2020 - bluehens.com

The 1995 University of Delaware football season was a magical one, en route to an undefeated conference record, a final ranking of No. 7 in all of Division I-AA, and a Yankee Conference Championship.

It was the 10th time in program history the Blue Hens achieved double-digit wins, finishing with an 11-2 season record under 30th-year head coach Tubby Raymond. Junior quarterback Leo Hamlett was named the ECAC Player of the Year after throwing for over 2,000 yards with 16 touchdowns through the air and setting the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 756, scoring 10 times with his legs. His season passer rating of 165.4 still ranks first in program history.

Senior offensive tackle Steve Archibald and senior guard Shannon Trostle each earned first-team honors in both the ECAC and Yankee Conference. Sophomore linebacker and the team's leading tackler Ralph D'Angelo was a first-team All-Yankee Conference performer, as well as safety Dorrell Green.

The season started with nine-consecutive victories, before finally slowing down in a road loss at Navy, before closing out the regular season with a close victory at Rhode Island. In the season opener against West Chester, senior running back Pat Williams broke off a 97-yard touchdown run that still ranks second among longest rushing plays in UD history.

On October 28, Delaware ran wild against Maine on its way to a 61-0 victory where the Blue Hens produced 714 total yards, a school record for a single game at the time, now second in the UD record book.

The Blue Hens hosted the opening round of the 1995 NCAA I-AA Playoffs, downing Hofstra by a 38-17 final. Defensive back Paul Williams sealed the victory when he returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in the game's closing minutes.

However, the season would come to a close the next week in a loss at McNeese State. Delaware's national ranking moved all the way to fourth during the season, the highest mark in the top-25 since 1993. The Blue Hens began the season ranked at No. 11 and finished seventh in the country.

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Hens can’t wait to play again for real

Nov 18th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK — Nolan Henderson knows there’s always going to be a college football game there waiting for him.

He and his Delaware teammates may not be playing games this fall.

But when the junior quarterback gets back from a Saturday practice, he knows the sports channels will be filled with Division I FBS teams that are playing for real.

“I’ve tried to look at this whole thing as a positive,” said Henderson. “One thing is I’ve been able to watch a lot of football. And I really truly haven’t in the past couple years just because of playing every Saturday and meetings on Sunday.

“So I’ve just been soaking in as much football as I can get.”

The Smyrna High grad isn’t alone, of course. With almost all the college football divisions beneath the FBS level sitting out this fall during the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of players are discovering that being able to watch games isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Even Delaware coach Danny Rocco said he’s found that it’s kind of fun having his Sundays free to watch the NFL.
Running back DeJoun Lee is one of several UD seniors who’s looking forward to playing a spring season. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

The Blue Hens, though, say that being away from competition has also made them that much hungrier to get back to playing themselves.

Delaware has been practicing three days a week for the past month after restarting conditioning in the summer. The Hens are slated to finish up the series of 14 practices this week.

Sometime, in January or February, they’ll start pre-season for a six to eight-game spring season.

“I remember the first day I watched Sunday football,” said running back DeJoun Lee. “It was weird because you’re so used to being in meetings. Occasionally, in between meetings, you’d go in the locker room and you’d go check the games and then go to the next meeting.

“When you have the day off on Sunday, you really get the chance to soak it in and appreciate it. I think it’s made me love the game even more.”
Coach Danny Rocco said he’s approaching the spring like it’s fall season. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

“Being away from football, you’re kind of like, ‘Wow, I love this game,’” said Henderson. “Next time I get out there, I’m not going to take it for granted. When we got back (in the fall) there were a lot of guys that are more motivated than ever. The thing that meant so much to them was taken away from them.

“Now that we’ve got it, there’s no shortage in motivation. It’s an opportunity to get better, it’s an opportunity to do something you love.”

One side effect of the pandemic on football is that FCS programs like Delaware will have probably put in more preparation for its next season than in any previous ones.

The Hens went through winter conditioning before the March shutdown and have had countless virtual team meetings since then. While the group physical work has only been more recent, Delaware will have gone roughly 15 months between playing actual games.

“You have plenty of time to study on your own with classes being on-line,” said Henderson. “There’s really no excuse. We obviously haven’t had as much time together in person but I feel like we’re making the most out of the Zoom calls we have.”

Right now, the Hens aren’t sure when their spring season will start.

Their first of six CAA games is slated for March 6 at home against Maine. But Delaware also might add up to two non-conference contests.

Rocco said he’d be interested in playing Delaware State with one of those dates.

Some FCS programs are looking at the spring season differently.

CAA member Towson has opted not to play in the spring and just focus on the upcoming fall season. Other coaches said they plan on focusing on developing their young players and resting their veterans in this spring.

The Hens, though, say they’re going to approach it like any other season.

There will be champions crowned in both the CAA and FCS nationally. And the spring season doesn’t count against a player’s eligibility, either.

“I have said this for a long time — I think every year your seniors deserve an opportunity to give it your best shot,” said Rocco. “This is not a moment where you back off of that. We have a lot of seniors who are very excited about playing.”

“I’m approaching it just like it’s our fall season — just like a business-as-usual season,” said Henderson. “For me, it’s ‘free’ football. It’s games that I would never have gotten. I’m going to try to play as many games as I can.”

Extra points

Rocco said that senior receiver ChiChi Amichi may have had his career ended by a torn Achilles tendon. … Linebacker Colby Reeder still isn’t ready to return from the back surgery that sidelined him last fall. But he was granted another year of eligibility — giving him two more — and could return to the field late in the spring season. … Dover High grad Bradly Anyanwu is a 6-foot-3, 305-pound redshirt offensive lineman for the Hens. … Count senior defensive Frank Burton among the fans of Delaware’s new-look all-black uniforms. “I love the black unis,” he said. “The first time I saw them, as soon as they put them out, there was just a sense of gratitude. Looking how far Delaware football has come over the years is just amazing to me.”

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Natasha Adair, James Prince III Named to CAA Family – United For Change Executive Committee

11/5/2020 bluehens.com

RICHMOND, Va. – UD women's basketball head coach Natasha Adair and football offensive lineman James Prince III have been named to the CAA Family – United For Change Executive Committee, a newly formed 14-member group tasked with addressing the critical issues of racial and social injustice.

The diverse committee includes representatives from all 10 CAA institutions and is made up of six athletics administrators, four coaches and four student-athletes. The committee will develop a strategic direction for the conference, and will provide an opportunity for institutions to share resources related to anti-racism and social justice efforts. Among the goals will be engaging student-athletes, coaches, staff and alumni in conference-wide initiatives that will help enact meaningful change.

The committee will meet for the first time later this month, where it will elect a chairperson, establish a mission statement and determine the best path to move forward.

Adair is entering her fourth season leading the Blue Hen women's basketball program, while Prince transferred into the UD football program this spring after spending his freshman year at Howard University where he was a third team Phil Steele Freshman All-American at center.

CAA Family – United For Change Executive Committee
Natasha Adair, Head Women's Basketball Coach – University of Delaware
Kelly Cole, Head Women's Basketball Coach – Northeastern University
Colleen Dawson, Head Women's Lacrosse Coach – William & Mary
Courtney Deena, Assistant Field Hockey Coach – Hofstra University
Asia Goins, Volleyball Student-Athlete – Towson University
Mide Oriyomi, Women's Basketball Student-Athlete – Northeastern University
Ashley Parsons, Academic Advisor – James Madison University
James Prince III, Football Student-Athlete – University of Delaware
Sinead Sargeant, Women's Cross Country/Track & Field Student-Athlete – James Madison University
Faith Shearer, Associate Director of Athletics/SWA – Elon University
Antwaine Smith, Senior Assistant Athletics Director – Towson University
Tiffany Tucker, Senior Associate Director of Athletics/SWA – UNCW
Jamaal Walton, Associate Athletics Director – College of Charleston
Dr. Eric Zillmer, Director of Athletics – Drexel University

PLAYERS MENTIONED
#78 James Prince III
OL 6' 4" 275 lbs Sophomore

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CAA FOOTBALL UNVEILS CONFERENCE SCHEDULE FOR THE 2021 SPRING FOOTBALL SEASON

Rob Washburn CAA.com (October 27, 2020)

CAA Football announced its conference schedule for the 2021 Spring season, which includes a six-game slate for each institution using a unique divisional format.

The North Division will include seven teams - UAlbany, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook and Villanova. There will be four teams in the South Division – Elon, James Madison, Richmond and William & Mary. Teams in the North will face each other once (three home, three away), while teams in the South will meet twice, with each team getting a home and an away game. Towson announced on October 19 that it would not compete during the 2021 Spring season.

The team with the best overall conference record will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Football Championship. Should the divisional champions finish with the same conference record, a tie-breaking procedure will be used to determine the automatic qualifier.

“We are pleased to announce the conference schedule for the 2021 Spring football season, but understand this is just the next step in the planning process associated with playing football on each of our campuses,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said. “Our unique divisional format was developed with the goal of enhancing safety and reducing the risks associated with travel during this difficult period of time, while still providing a fair and competitive model to determine a champion. Today’s announcement hopefully provides an additional level of excitement for the student-athletes and coaches who have worked hard and made numerous sacrifices over the past eight months. As always, health and safety remain at the forefront of all return-to-play decisions that we as a Conference continue to make.”

Conference play would begin on Saturday, March 6 and conclude on Saturday, April 17. Each team would have a bye week in the schedule, which could provide flexibility to make up games postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic if necessary.

Each institution has the option of adding up to two additional non-conference games to their schedule. Institutions are able to schedule “non-conference” games against other conference members, but those games would not count towards the conference standings and the outcome would not be used in the tiebreaking procedures. Based on NCAA guidelines, teams are allowed to begin non-conference competition as early as January 23.

The NCAA Football Championship will feature 16 teams with 11 automatic qualifiers and five at-large berths. The playoffs are set to begin on Saturday, April 24 with a champion being crowned in Frisco, Texas on May 14, 15 or 16.

2021 CAA FOOTBALL SPRING CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Saturday, March 6
Maine at Delaware
UAlbany at New Hampshire
Villanova at Stony Brook
James Madison at Elon
William & Mary at Richmond

Saturday, March 13
William & Mary at James Madison
Elon at Richmond
Rhode Island at Villanova
Stony Brook at Delaware
UAlbany at Maine

Saturday, March 20
Delaware at New Hampshire
Rhode Island at UAlbany
Maine at Stony Brook
Richmond at James Madison
Elon at William & Mary

Saturday, March 27
Richmond at Elon
James Madison at William & Mary
Stony Brook at UAlbany
New Hampshire at Villanova
Delaware at Rhode Island

Saturday, April 3
Villanova at Maine
New Hampshire at Rhode Island
UAlbany at Delaware
William & Mary at Elon
James Madison at Richmond

Saturday, April 10
Richmond at William & Mary
Elon at James Madison
Maine at Rhode Island
Stony Brook at New Hampshire
Villanova at UAlbany

Saturday, April 17
New Hampshire at Maine
Delaware at Villanova
Rhode Island at Stony Brook

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2021 Spring CAA Football Slate Set For Blue Hens
10/27/2020 10:00:00 AM - bluehens.com

RICHMOND, Va. – Get out your calendars. 

On Tuesday, CAA Football announced its conference schedule for the 2021 Spring season, which includes a six-game slate for each institution using a unique divisional format. Conference play will begin on Saturday, March 6 and conclude on Saturday, April 17. 

In order to reach the NCAA maximum of eight games this spring, the Blue Hens will have two non-conferences games, which will be announced at a later date. Institutions are able to schedule "non-conference" games against other conference members, but those games would not count towards the conference standings and the outcome would not be used in the tie-breaking procedures. 

Based on NCAA guidelines, teams are allowed to begin non-conference competition as early as January 23. The entire schedule will depend on adherence to UD, local and state health guidelines. 

Ticketing updates and attendance policies will be determined and communicated at a future date. Stay in the know for ticketing information by filling out this form. 

A ticket for the Blue Hens' Virtual Sellout is also available for $25 and provides an opportunity to virtually fill up Delaware Stadium and be a part of the Back the Blue Hens campaign. 

The North Division will include seven teams - UAlbany, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook and Villanova. There will be four teams in the South Division – Elon, James Madison, Richmond and William & Mary. Teams in the North will face each other once (three home, three away), while teams in the South will meet twice, with each team getting a home and an away game. Towson announced on October 19 that it would not compete during the 2021 Spring season.

The team with the best overall conference record will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Football Championship. Should the divisional champions finish with the same conference record, a tie-breaking procedure will be used to determine the automatic qualifier.

The NCAA Football Championship will feature 16 teams with 11 automatic qualifiers and five at-large berths. The playoffs are set to begin on Saturday, April 24 with a champion being crowned in Frisco, Texas on May 14, 15 or 16.

Delaware 2021 CAA Spring Schedule
March 6 - vs. Maine
March 13 - vs. Stony Brook
March 20 - at New Hampshire
March 27 - at Rhode Island
April 3 - vs. UAlbany
April 17 - at Villanova


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Ex-Blue Hen Reeder steps in, steps up for Rams
Oct 16th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

Former Delaware linebacker Troy Reeder had a career-high three sacks and 11 tackles for the Rams against Washington last week. Delaware sports information photo/Mark Campbell

Troy Reeder knows he can’t control when he’s going to get on the field.

The former Delaware linebacker was reminded of that fact when he didn’t play a defensive snap in the Los Angeles Rams’ first three games this fall.

But that doesn’t mean he stopped preparing. In the NFL, everything can change in an instant.

“I prepare every week like I’m going to be in the game and support the guys who are,” said Reeder. “When your opportunity does come, you’re expected to do your part.

“It doesn’t matter how much you’ve played. When you’re called upon, you have to do your job.”

Nobody can say Reeder wasn’t ready when his big chance came last Sunday.

Filling in for injured starter Micah Kaiser, the second-year NFL player collected a career-high 11 tackles, with three sacks, three quarterback hits and a pair of tackles for loss in the Rams’ 30-10 win at Washington.

Reeder’s teammates were impressed by his performance but not surprised.

“Troy’s amazing,” defensive lineman Michael Brockers was quoted after the contest. “When Micah got hurt, he was kind of reluctant to get out, but I told him, ‘I mean, we got Troy, we got a great backup behind you, you have your brother behind you, let’s trust that he’s going to get the job done.’

“The fact that he went out there and balled today, had a couple sacks and a lot of tackles, it just shows our next-man-up philosophy is true.”

“He was outstanding and did a great job stepping in and running the show,” said Rams’ coach Sean McVay.

Signed by L.A. as an undrafted free agent, Reeder has now played in 21 games as a pro. But the Delaware native admits it took a little while to adjust when he got the start at Washington.

He said lining up on defense is different than playing special teams.

“I love my special teams’ role,” said Reeder, who was wearing a ‘Del. Made’ hat as he did his post-game interview. “But sometimes you get back out on defense and it took a series or two to get my feet back under me, gauge the speed. I really haven’t done much defensive tackling without OTAs and preseason games.”

With the Rams facing the 49ers on Sunday, Reeder is listed as a starting linebacker again. As long as L.A. keeps winning, he’ll be happy.

“It’s obviously exciting any time you can go out and make a big impact,” he said. “But for me, it simply comes down to helping the team win and that’s what we were able to do today.”

Adderley shines, too

Reeder’s former Blue Hen teammate, Nasir Adderley, is doing some pretty good things himself in the NFL.

The second-year Los Angeles Chargers safety pulled in his first career interception against Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees on Monday night. Adderley returned the ball 39 yards, almost scoring when he stretched the ball toward the goal line as he was being tackled near the one.

“I thought I got in,” he said. “Ultimately I wanted to take it to the house so the offense didn’t have to go back out there. But I’m glad we got the score. That’s all that matters.”

Adderley, who had 11 interceptions at Delaware, posted eight tackles in a game against the Panthers earlier this season.

What’s next

The college sports world is still trying to manage the problems of playing football during the coronavirus pandemic.

But now you can throw basketball, and the issues of playing an indoor sport, into the mix.

Local college teams, who have already been working out, could officially began preseason practice on Wednesday.

The interesting thing is that those teams don’t actually know when they’ll be playing yet.

The MEAC (Delaware State) and CAA (Delaware) have announced the format for their conference schedules, starting in January. But they haven’t decided if they’ll be playing any games before then.

This year’s official start date is Nov. 25 after being pushed back from Nov. 10. Teams are permitted up to 27 regular-season games.

The issue of fan attendance for basketball games in Delaware is still up in the air, too.

“We understand the upcoming seasons will be much different than any other,” DelState athletic director Dr. Scott Gines recently wrote on the school’s website. “If we’ve learned anything this year, situations can change daily. I will do my best to communicate significant updates or changes as they come.”

Notes

Dover High grad Jordan Magee, a redshirt freshman linebacker at Temple, collected five tackles in his first collegiate start in the Owls’ loss to Navy last Saturday. Magee lined up at BUBO, which Temple describes as “the type of owl considered as the biggest, strongest and most ferocious.” … Former Smyrna High All-State lineman Sal Wormley looks like he’s second on the depth chart at right guard for Penn State, which opens its season against Indiana on Saturday. … A dozen former Delaware State football players are on the ballot for the Top 50 players in MEAC history. That group includes WR-John Taylor, RB-Gene Lake, OL-Rod Milstead, DB-Joe Burton, DL-Dan Candeloro, QB-Nick Elko, QB-Rahsaan Matthews, WR-Shaheer McBride, P-Chuck Poplos, DL-Robert Presbury, DB-Deon Rheubottom and QB-Vashon Winton. Voting is open to the public and lasts until Nov. 1 at MEACsports.com.

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CAA FOOTBALL ANNOUNCES SCHEDULING FORMAT FOR SPRING 2021 SEASON:

CAA.com - Rob Washburn RICHMOND, Va. (September 30, 2020) 

CAA Football is making plans to play a six-game conference schedule that includes the option for institutions to add up to two non-conference contests during the Spring 2021 season.

The conference will use a North/South divisional format, with all six league games coming against teams within the division. The team with the best overall conference record will be the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Football Championship. Should the divisional champions finish with the same record, a tiebreaking policy will be used to determine the automatic qualifier.

Conference play is anticipated to begin on March 6 and conclude on April 17, with each team receiving a bye week during the seven-week timeframe. Institutions are allowed to schedule “non-conference” games against other conference members, but those games would not count towards the conference standings and the outcome would not be used in the tiebreaking procedures. Based on NCAA guidelines, teams are allowed to begin non-conference competition as early as January 23.

The makeup of the divisions and the final conference schedule will be announced in the next several weeks.

“All of our institutions know that today’s announcement is simply the first step in the planning process associated with playing football on each of our campuses in the Spring,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said. “Each member institution, as well as the Conference office, has additional protocols that must be finalized and approved in order to ensure a safe return to the field. Our goal in creating this unique scheduling format was to implement a competitive model while also trying to reduce the risks associated with travel as much as we could. It’s been an extremely difficult and challenging time, but it’s nice to be able to give our coaches, student-athletes and fans something to look forward to. Health and safety remain at the forefront of every decision we are making, and we are hopeful about getting the Spring 2021 season underway.”

On July 17, CAA Football announced its decision to suspend conference competition in the Fall of 2020 due to continuing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the conference expressed a strong commitment to conducting a football season in the Spring of 2021 and the institution’s athletics directors have worked closely with conference staff to make that happen.

The NCAA Board of Directors recently approved a revised format for the NCAA FCS playoffs, which will feature 16 teams with 11 automatic qualifiers and five at-large berths. The playoffs are set to begin on Saturday, April 24, with a champion being crowned in Frisco, Texas on May 14, 15 or 16.

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Blue Hens Rewind: Gannon Leads Delaware to 34-31 Victory over Maine in 1986:

9/19/2020 by Andy Lohman
Bluehens.com

1986 was a monumental year for Delaware football. After playing as an independent for the previous 16 seasons, the Fightin' Blue Hens were in their first season as a member of the Yankee Conference, competing against some of the best teams in Division I-AA (today known as the Football Championship Subdivision).

It was also the senior season for Rich Gannon, the Delaware quarterback from Philadelphia who went on to have a nearly two-decade career in the NFL, highlighted by four Pro Bowl appearances, winning Most Valuable Player honors and making the Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders during the 2002 season.

But before he was drafted in the fourth round by the New England Patriots in 1987, and before he led the NFL in passing yards deep into his career in 2002, Gannon was the leader of head coach Tubby Raymond's famed Wing-T offense.

The Wing-T, rarely seen in modern college and professional football but still widely used at the high school level, utilized three backs and a heavy dose of misdirection.

"A lot of it's about illusion and disguise, we create the sense that there's a lot of volume. We did a lot of pre-snap motion. We'd set the formation one way and we'd motion the other way. We got you thinking this way, we'd come back with some misdirection this way," Gannon said. "It's interesting because when I went to the NFL, a lot of the core concepts that we worked on and we installed and we coached and we talked about, really carried over at the next level. You saw some coaches in the NFL trying to incorporate some of those same runs and same sweeps and same play action plays that we ran at Delaware, which I think speaks volumes about how respected Delaware football was under Tubby Raymond's direction and also how impressive the Delaware Wing-T was."

On Nov. 3 of 1986, Delaware traveled to remote Orono, Maine to take on the Maine Black Bears in a crucial Yankee Conference match-up. With two conference losses earlier in the year to New Hampshire and William & Mary, the Blue Hens needed a win to keep their conference title and playoff hopes alive. The trip was also a bit of a homecoming for Raymond, who had coached the Black Bears' offensive line in the early 1950s before joining Dave Nelson's staff at Delaware and eventually taking over for Nelson as head coach in 1966.

Although the University of Maine is tucked away in the far northeast corner of the country, and the Black Bears' Alumni Field had a relatively small capacity, Maine was still a formidable team. The Black Bears redshirt freshman quarterback, Mike Buck, was a sixth round selection in the 1990 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. While few of the 3,500 people in attendance that day may have known it, they were about to witness an instant classic college football game, and a duel between two future NFL quarterbacks.

The Delaware Wing-T was on display from the opening whistle with Fred Singleton rushing for a first down on a counter play on the first play from scrimmage. Moments later, Gannon showed off his playmaking ability, rolling out to his left, waving at running back Bob Norris to cut back inside, then delivering a sidearm throw around a leaping Maine defender to Norris for a first down. A screen pass to Norris got the Blue Hens down to the doorstep of the Black Bear end zone before Singleton dove over the offensive line to punch in the opening score. In a must-win conference road game, Delaware had a 7-0 advantage right out of the gates.

The Blue Hens doubled their lead at the beginning of the second quarter when, at the end of a deliberate 76-yard drive, Gannon kept the ball himself after a fake hand-off and cut inside for a two-yard touchdown run. A key to the success of the Wing-T was that Gannon was just as effective using his legs as he was throwing the ball.
"I think Delaware was just the perfect fit for me, especially when you look at the Delaware Wing-T," Gannon said. "It was an offense that was tailor-made to a quarterback that had some mobility that could throw from different body angles and different launch points."

While the offense was clicking in the first half, the defense was suffocating the Black Bears, forcing several three-and-outs. Maine responded right after the Gannon rushing touchdown, but had to settle for a field goal after a goal-line stand by Delaware, highlighted by a sack from strong safety Kevin McCown. McCown came up big again on the next Maine drive, sacking Buck from the blind side for a 16-yard loss and forcing the Black Bears to punt from the shadow of their own end zone.

Delaware used the great field position to get down to the goal line in just a few plays. Rolling to his right, and with great protection from his offensive line, Gannon heaved one downfield for tight end Jeff Jahrstorfer, who stepped inside a Maine defensive back, then stiff-armed another as he fought his way to the four-yard line. Two unsuccessful plays gave the Blue Hens 3rd and goal, where Gannon made a magical play that proved he was a bona fide professional prospect.

After a fake hand-off, three Maine defenders were immediately in the Delaware backfield. Gannon backpedaled, spun, and sprinted to his left. With Maine's Rob Sterling in pursuit along the left-hand sideline, Gannon spun again and doubled back towards the middle of the field, then spun a third time to put Sterling on the ground, by this point tracking back all the way to the 25-yard line. Gannon took off down the sideline and from the 15 fired a pass between several Black Bears to find Gregg Panasuk open at the back of the end zone. Midway through the second quarter, behind the brilliant play of their quarterback, the Blue Hens were cruising with a 21-3 lead.

Joe McGrail, a defensive tackle and captain on the 1986 team, recalls this game as when he knew his teammate would be going to the NFL.

"Being on the defensive side of the ball, you would come out of the game and we always had seats for the players behind the guys standing on the sidelines. So a lot of times I didn't get to watch Rich Gannon all that much. But I remember that game, I watched him a lot," McGrail said. "For me, he was a buddy, he was a peer, and I remember saying to myself: this dude is going to the next level without a doubt."

Maine would not go quietly, though. Right before halftime, Doug Dorsey, the leading rusher in the conference, punched in a three-yard touchdown to cut the Blue Hens lead to 21-10. Coming out of the locker room, the Black Bears dominated the third quarter, outscoring Delaware 13-0 in the period to take a 23-21 lead going into the final stanza.
Buck, who finished the game with an eye-popping 433 passing yards hit Steve Roth for a 27-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, as Roth brought in a ball in tight coverage. Roth had a prolific day for Maine, recording 176 receiving yards. His cohort, Sergio Hebra, was in step with him with 172 receiving yards of his own.

Phil Atwell intercepted Buck in the third quarter, but the Delaware offense lost its momentum, punting once and failing to convert on fourth down in Maine territory twice. On the final play of the third quarter, Mike Walsh dove one yard into the end zone. Although Maine missed to PAT attempt, the Black Bears had taken advantage of the stalling Delaware offense and scored 20 straight points to take the lead.

After the teams traded punts to start the fourth quarter, Gannon and the Blue Hens offense got down to work, starting a drive from the shadow of the end zone. Gannon hit tight end Jeff Modesitt for a 20-yard gain up the middle for a first down, then ran for one himself, pump faking one way and sidestepping a defender to the other way before taking off up the sideline to the Delaware 35.

The Blue Hens drive looked to be empty as a Delaware field goal attempt sailed wide, but a roughing the kicker penalty on Maine gave Delaware a first down and new life. On third down, Gannon delivered yet another highlight reel scramble and throw, this time looping back to nearly midfield as Maine pressured him, then throwing across his body to find Norris wide open in the corner of the end zone to retake the lead 27-23 after a failed two-point attempt.

"I ran around for what would seem like a couple minutes, but that was a big play in the game and it was kind of a turning point for us," Gannon said. "I think it jumpstarted us to get us back in that thing."

The momentum back in the hands of the Blue Hens, the defense got a huge stop on the ensuing Maine drive. With the Black Bears at the Delaware 23, Tim Doherty delivered a big hit on Buck as he threw over the middle and linebacker Darrell Booker, arguably the Hens' best defensive player, stepped up and intercepted the pass at the 10-yard line.

"Next to me [on the defensive line] was Timmy Doherty, who was sort of undersized, but was just a madman…he was just relentless," McGrail said. "Darrell [Booker] was fun to play with and probably the best defensive player I ever played with."

The Blue Hens struggled to advance the ball after Booker's pick and Gannon was forced to punt away (yes, the future NFL MVP doubled as a college punter), but Maine muffed the kick and the Hens jumped on it. Given a second chance on the drive, Delaware fed the fullback Panasuk for big gains as the fourth quarter clock ran down. From two yards out, Gannon went left on a bootleg, dodging a Maine defender and tiptoeing along the sideline for his second rushing touchdown of the day to put the Hens up 34-23.

Unwilling to go quietly into the night, Buck led Maine down the field, threw a two-yard touchdown to Hebra, then converted the two-point attempt to cut the lead to 34-31 with under a minute remaining. Maine's onside kick bounced off a set of Blue Hens hands and the Black Bears fell on it, rapidly turning what looked like a comfortable Delaware victory into a crucial defensive drive to save the season.

"For me as the captain, you're like 'holy cow, this is the whole season.' My senior year now is going down the tubes here," McGrail said. "So, my God, I was like a madman trying to get to [Buck]."

Under heavy pressure on first down, Buck overthrew his man with under 30 seconds left on the clock. On the next play, the pressure came again, and Buck put a little too much on it for his receiver Venditto, and McCown grabbed a leaping interception to seal the game.

The Blue Hens finished the regular season 8-3 and earned a share of the Yankee Conference championship and a playoff berth. In the first round, they avenged their earlier loss to William & Mary, defeating the Tribe 51-17 before falling to an excellent Arkansas State team (who would advance to the national championship game that year) 55-14 in the quarterfinals.

"It was pivotal. I mean that was actually the game that I think sort of turned us around," McGrail said of the dramatic win at Maine. "This game, being a conference game, if we had one more loss we were done."

The Blue Hens got key contributions from up and down the roster on both sides of the ball, but Gannon still stood out as the star of the game. He completed 23 of his 41 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, and ran for an additional two scores. He was named the Yankee Conference Player of the Week for his efforts, and at the end of the year was honored as the conference's Offensive Player of the Year. Just the beginning of a long career of accolades for one of Delaware's most outstanding sons.

"It's a team that I'm very proud of," Gannon said. "We had a great captain in Joe McGrail. We had great senior leadership as a team that cared about one another. A team that worked hard to create pride in their preparation and performance each week. You know, what's amazing is I played 17 years in the NFL, but my closest and dearest friends are my teammates at Delaware."

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UD has 36 positive cases in athletics
Sep 15th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK — Most college athletic programs aren’t playing sports this fall.

But people are still keeping statistics.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases among student-athletes on campuses — whether programs are just working out or actually competing — are becoming regular news.

The University of Delaware isn’t immune to the situation, either.

On Tuesday, UD announced that 36 student-athletes have tested positive for the virus among the 600 who returned to campus over the past two weeks.

The Blue Hens aren’t competing in any sports this fall but are conducting team workouts in hopes of being able to resume play this winter.

According to a press release, “affected student-athletes will be monitored daily until they are cleared by University medical professionals.”

College athletic programs around the country have been affected by positive test results during the coronavirus pandemic. Some colleges have had to postpone football games while others have temporarily stopped workouts.

Texas Tech has had 75 football players test positive since June while Penn State recently paused workouts for a few teams after 48 positive cases were determined among student-athletes.

Delaware, in its press release, said its student-athletes have been following public health protocols such as wearing masks, social distancing and completing daily questionnaires.

A sampling of 25 percent of the total student-athlete population, as well as coaches and administrators, are selected to test every Monday and Wednesday. Anyone who displays symptoms or tests positive will immediately be placed in quarantine and contact tracing will begin by school medical personnel.

The University of Delaware will continue to provide daily number updates through its COVID-19 Data Dashboard, which is located at udel.edu/home/coronavirus/dashboard/.

FCS playoff decision today

The NCAA is expected to vote today on whether there will be national playoffs in FCS Division I football this spring.
Both Delaware and Delaware State play in the FCS division.

The current proposal is for a smaller, 16-team bracket with the national title game slated for May 15 in Frisco, Tex. The 10 conference champions would still earn automatic berths but there would be only six at-large berths instead of 14.

“I think it’s fully supported,” said Patty Viverito, commissioner of both the Missouri Valley and Pioneer League.

If health conditions permit, the spring college football season would begin in late February. All FCS conferences postponed their fall seasons although some teams are playing as independents.

DSU extends Atkinson

Delaware State has given volleyball coach Dr. Bruce Atkinson a three-year extension on his contract.

The Hornets’ 12 wins in 2019 (12-18) were the most by the program since posting an 18-12 mark in 2010. DelState had just 12 wins combined in the six seasons prior to arrival.

The Hornets’ seven MEAC wins last season were also the most by the team since tallying eight (8-2) in 2010.

“Bruce is a veteran coach with a proven record of success on and off the court,” said DelState athletic director Scott Gines. “He has quickly set our volleyball program on a course to become highly competitive. Our current volleyball team is still relatively young, so it’s important that we provide stability in the program to give our student-athletes the best environment to grow and succeed.”

Atkinson’s 12-year career as a college head coach is highlighted by a 229-134 overall record (.631 win percentage), multiple conference championships, five Coach-of-the-Year awards and six 20-win seasons.

Hornet women hire ex-player

Former Delaware State women’s basketball player Lanayjha Ashe has been hired an assistant coach on Dave Caputo’s staff.

Ashe lettered the past four seasons at DSU (2016-20), tallying 1,118 points, 272 assists and 127 three-point field goals. She ranks second on the Hornets’ all-time three-point field goal list, fourth in assists and 12th in scoring.

Ashe became the 17th player in team history to reach the career 1,000-point mark.

“Lanayjha was a hard-working, tough and smart player who knows our system and can help teach the newcomers the important lessons she learned in the program,” said Caputo.
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Blue Hens Rewind: Six Historic Games Set For Re-air This Fall

8/26/2020  - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – While Delaware Stadium may not be filled with passionate fans like a typical fall, the tradition and excitement of Blue Hens football will be on display with Blue Hens Rewind, a 2020 Delaware Football Virtual Experience. 

Taking into account TV rights and the quality of broadcasts available, a list of 10 classic games were made available for fans to vote on.

After hundreds of votes, a thrilling fall is ahead with six classics for Blue Hens fans to enjoy. 

Fans can expect a full virtual gameday experience with several special in-game additions, including interviews with former players, fan interactions, live social coverage and special throwback roster cards.

These games will be shown live via Hens All-Access on YouTube and BlueHens.com. 

2020 Delaware Football Virtual Schedule:
Sept. 19 – 1986 at Maine
Sept. 26 – 2007 at William & Mary
Oct. 3 – 2007 at Navy
BYE WEEK
Oct. 17 – 2001 vs. Richmond
Oct. 24 – 2017 vs. Richmond
Oct. 31 – 2003 at Villanova

In addition, to the Blue Hens Rewind, between now and October 30, all members of our Blue Hens Family can help us virtually sellout Delaware Stadium by making a donation of $25 or more to the Blue & Gold Fund, and by encouraging others to do the same. Every increment of $25 will count as one seat filled in the stadium. While our goal is to sell-out Delaware Stadium the impact of your collective gifts will be felt among all 21 programs and more than 600 student-athletes. 

To learn more about the Virtual Sellout, check out bluehens.com/virtualsellout. 

Game #1 (September 19th Re-Air): Nov. 1, 1986 – Delaware 34, Maine 31
Down 23-21 entering the fourth quarter, senior Rich Gannon led the Blue Hens to back-to-back TDs, including the eventual game-winning TD run en route to securing a trip to the I-AA playoffs. 

Game #2 (September 26th Re-Air): August 30, 2007 – Delaware 49, William & Mary 31
In the first-ever CAA Football game ever played, Omar Cuff rumbled to a I-AA record-tying seven TDs with 244 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving in one of the best offensive performances in Blue Hen history. 

Game #3 (October 3rd Re-Air): October 27, 2007 – Delaware 59, Navy 52
Joe Flacco and Omar Cuff led an absolute offensive shootout for the Blue Hens, which saw Flacco toss for 434 yards and four TDS, and Cuff roll to 141 yards on the ground and four TDs of his own in a dramatic win in Annapolis. 

Game #4 (October 17th Re-Air): November 10, 2001 – Delaware 10, Richmond 6
In one of the most emotional and moving game in Delaware Stadium history, Tubby Raymond coached his final game in Newark, leading the Blue Hens to a 10-6 defensive victory over the Spiders. With the win, he became just the ninth coach in college history to reach 300 career victories and only the fourth to accomplish the feat at one school at the time. 

Game #5 (October 24th Re-Air): October 21, 2017 – Delaware 42, Richmond 35 (2OT)
On a beautiful Homecoming afternoon in Newark, a game that featured seven future NFL players lived up to its billing with a dramatic 42-35 double-overtime win for the Blue Hens against the then-ranked #11 Spiders. 

Game #6 (October 31st Re-Air): November 22, 2003 – Delaware 20, Villanova 17
In another Battle of the Blue classic, Andy Hall, playing with a separated shoulder, ran for a TD with under two minutes remaining to help the Blue Hens secure a share of the Atlantic Ten title and a berth in the I-AA playoffs. It would lay the path for what would turn into a pretty special season for the Blue & Gold. 

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Seven Former Hens in NFL Training Camps

8/13/2020 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – For decades, University of Delaware football alumni has enjoyed a successful path to the NFL.

2020 is no different with seven former Blue Hens in training camps this summer.

Nasir Adderley (Los Angeles Chargers), Nick Boyle (Ravens), Bilal Nichols (Chicago Bears), Joe Flacco (Jets), Zach Kerr (Panthers), Troy Reeder (Los Angeles Rams) and Charles Scarff (Ravens) are all active in camps this month.

Last season, the Blue Hens led all of the FCS with nine alums on active NFL rosters with both Paul Worrilow (Jets) and Mike Adams (Texans) also among the former Blue Hens playing at the highest level. 

Print Friendly Version
PLAYERS MENTIONED

#92 Bilal Nichols
DL (Capt.) 
6' 4" 
290 lbs 
Senior

#23 Nasir Adderley
DB 
6' 0" 
200 lbs 
Senior

#9 Troy Reeder
LB 
6' 3" 
245 lbs 
Redshirt Senior

#85 Charles Scarff
TE 
6' 6" 
270 lbs 
Redshirt Senior

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Hens, Hornets may still get NCAA playoff shot; Wesley won’t:

Aug 11th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

Delaware made its decision about the fall sports season relatively early on.

And the Blue Hens seemed to be pretty confident that they’d made the right call not to play.

But there was still the chance that Delaware could end up on the “wrong” side if a traditional NCAA Division I football national tournament was played in the fall.

“From mid-July through early August, you really didn’t know what was going to happen with FCS and the playoffs,” said Hens’ coach Danny Rocco. “I do think the playoff piece is a big piece of the FCS experience.”

Finally, though, the rest of the dominoes started to fall. With more conferences and programs canceling their fall seasons, it became clear by the end of last week that there won’t be national playoffs at the FCS level this fall.

The NCAA had mandated that at least half the eligible programs had to play a regular season for there to be a tournament.

In its own way, that’s good news for the state’s two FCS programs, Delaware State and Delaware, who may still get to contend for a spot in the playoffs if there’s a spring football season.

While none of the state’s college football coaches are celebrating that more teams won’t play this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, it does seem to make for a better situation if FCS is unified in what it’s playing for.
While Wesley College won’t have NCAA Division III playoffs this year, the NJAC has proposed a five-game spring schedule. (Delaware State News file photo)

“It creates a conversation for the spring as more and more of a majority think of moving to the spring,” said Rocco. “We, I felt, were highly motivated to play either way — whether it’s for a conference championship alone or whether it’s for the conference opportunity and post-season.

“At least in this moment, they both appear to be realistic in terms of a spring option. I think a lot of heads will come together and try to make it happen.”

Delaware’s CAA conference-mate, James Madison, didn’t cancel its fall football season until Friday. The Dukes made the national championship game a year ago.

JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne told Stats’ FCS.football.com that he thinks there would be a good deal of support for a national playoff in the spring.

“I talk to a lot of athletic directors from across the country, in our league, the Missouri Valley, Big Sky and everyone wants to try to see that happen because it’s such an important element of FCS football,” he was quoted.

But that’s not true in Division III, where the fall NCAA playoffs were also canceled last week. The NCAA has already decided that playing fall-sport national championships in the spring just isn’t going to be possible.

“Our Championships Committee reviewed the financial and logistical ramifications if Division III fall sports championships were conducted in the spring and found it was logistically untenable and financially prohibitive,” Tori Murden McClure, chair of the Presidents Council and president at Spalding, said in an NCAA press release.

“Our Management Council reached the same conclusion. Moving forward, we will try to maximize the championships experience for our winter and spring sport student-athletes, who unfortunately were short-changed last academic year.”

That doesn’t mean that Wesley College necessarily won’t have anything to play for in the spring.

Wolverine coach Chip Knapp said the New Jersey Athletic Conference has proposed playing a five-game football season starting in late February or early March.

The league would be divided into two divisions, with Wesley grouped with Salisbury, Rowan and Christopher Newport. Each school would play the other three teams in the division plus one from the opposite division.

There would then be a conference title game at the end. The understanding is that a season of five games or fewer would not count as a season towards players’ four seasons of eligibility

Even a situation like Wesley’s, where nobody will be playing for a national title this school year, at least eliminates a situation where only a small percentage of schools were eligible for the playoffs.

“There would have been a lot of questioning the championship,” said Knapp. “Certain teams wouldn’t be able to play. They’d put an asterisks by the championship. It wouldn’t be your typical NCAA championship. It wouldn’t be as good.

“It’s called a national championship and everybody’s on board. It only makes sense that everybody’s doing the same thing.”
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C. Reeder anxious for second act with Hens
Aug 8th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK — Colby Reeder feels a little bit like a stranger.

Sure, at 23, he’s been a member of the Delaware football team for going on five seasons already.
Colby Reeder

But, after having back surgery in June 2019, the former Salesianum School standout hasn’t played in a game since 2018.

“I’m going to come in during the spring and I think there’s probably going to be 50 guys I really haven’t been on the field with,” said Reeder. “The last time I played football, I was an underclassmen … just trying to play my role and let them (the veterans) kind of take charge.

“Now, the next time I play, I’m probably one of the oldest guys on our team. So I think I’m in a whole different role.”

It’s clearly been a strange career for the highly-touted linebacker. He won’t play this fall after the Blue Hens and the CAA canceled their fall schedule.

But that doesn’t mean that Reeder is giving up on his college career.

Whether it’s this spring or not until the fall of 2021, Reeder just wants to get in a game again. In some ways, it will almost be like he’s starting a second career.

“I think I have to prove myself for these guys,” he said. “I haven’t played with them. I think it’s going to be almost like my freshman year when I came in. I had a chip on my shoulder to show the guys what I can do.

”I want to prove my worth to these guys because they haven’t seen me play. They’ve just seen me working out and in meetings.”

Back when he was playing, Reeder was pretty good. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2016, was named the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017.
Colby Reeder’s last game action came against JMU in the 2018 NCAA FCS Division I playoffs.

Altogether, he’s collected 100 total tackles and started in 22 games,

“He has the skills, the tools, to be a really dominant player,” Delaware coach Danny Rocco said about Reeder in ‘18. “He has the size, power, explosion and quickness to do a lot of different things.”

Reeder, though, was also in pain a lot of the time for his first couple seasons. He said the back injury was something that just gradually got worse over the years.

The one start he missed in his UD career was because of his back.

“It was nagging me most of the season,” Reeder said about his sophomore year. “Back pain is not fun. If you’re not having a good day, it’s not the best sport to play.”

At the same time, simply having surgery didn’t automatically clear up everything for Reeder. Like anyone recovering from major surgery, there are good days and bad days.

“Getting the surgery was pretty tough for me,” he said. “You get down on yourself. You’re like, ‘Oh, I remember before surgery, I was doing this number (lifting weights). Right now, I’m way under that.’

“I’m progressing back to it but it’s definitely hard. It might be more of a mental game than a physical game at times. … If you don’t really have that drive to get back out there with your brothers and have success on the field, I think it’s a lot tougher. But, throughout it all, that’s been in the forefront of my mind.”
The Blue Hens have always liked Colby Reeder’s athletic ability as a linebacker.

Reeder said he’s tried to be smarter when he works out. Instead of trying to lift as much weight as he can, he now focuses on certain muscles.

He said he’s also learned a great deal working out with his older brother, Troy, the former Delaware linebacker who’s starting his second NFL season with the Rams. The two were together a lot of the summer.

“It’s been 14 months since surgery,” said Colby. “It gets monotonous sometimes with physical therapy, with a lot of these little exercises that I probably neglected when I was younger. They’re all about my core, working little muscles and finding unbalances in my body.

“I’m training a lot differently than I was. It’s not really about lifting 600 pounds right now. It’s about functional movement, it’s about moving fast.”

Given the coronavirus pandemic coupled with Reeder missing a season due to a serious injury, it might be difficult to say with any certainty how much eligibility he has remaining at Delaware. But it’s probably not out of the question that his college career could end up spanning seven years.

However much playing time Reeder is given, he said he’ll gladly accept it. After waiting so long, any playing time sounds pretty good right now.

“I’m going to try to play football until I can’t,” said Reeder. “And I’m going to try to help this team win some games as long as I can. If I can be out there, I’m going to be out there.”

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Although CAA officially suspends football season, JMU still planning to play in the fall

7/18/20 - MSN https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaafb/caa-officially-suspends-football-season-jmu-still-planning-to-play-in-the-fall/
 
{ In accordance with the CAA’s announcement Friday, JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne released the following statement, saying the Dukes are pursuing an alternative schedule for football this fall. In a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, Bourne said JMU has had discussions with both FBS and FCS programs about scheduling games in the fall of 2020.}

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Colonial Athletic Association has officially suspended the 2020 fall football season. The conference made the announcement Friday afternoon.
A large orange sign that is in front of a building: The Colonial Athletic Association has officially suspended the 2020 fall football season. The conference made the announcement Friday afternoon. The Colonial Athletic Association has officially suspended the 2020 fall football season. The conference made the announcement Friday afternoon.

CAA Statement on 2020 Football Season

“CAA Football announced today that the Conference’s Board of Directors has voted to suspend conference competition in the Fall of 2020 due to continuing concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference expressed a strong commitment to exploring the possibility of conducting a football season during the Spring of 2021, and will continue to analyze this scenario as more information becomes available and conditions continue to evolve.

In expressing an understanding of the uniqueness of the Conference’s composition (12 institutions that compete in other sports in four Division I Conferences), the geographical expansion of the Conference membership and the complexity of an ever-changing situation, the Conference’s Board of Directors also affirmed that the Conference’s policies would permit member institutions the ability to explore the option of pursuing playing an independent football schedule in the Fall of 2020.

“I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” said CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio. “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”

For the 2020-21 academic year, institutions will have the ability to manage practice activities for its football student-athletes in a manner that best meets institutional, federal, state and local guidelines, as well as NCAA Rules.”

While the CAA has suspended the upcoming football season, James Madison University is still planning to play a football schedule in the fall. Thursday night sources confirmed to WHSV that the Dukes intend to play football this fall if the FCS Playoffs remain as scheduled.

In accordance with the CAA’s announcement Friday, JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne released the following statement, saying the Dukes are pursuing an alternative schedule for football this fall. In a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, Bourne said JMU has had discussions with both FBS and FCS programs about scheduling games in the fall of 2020.

The release also states “current planning for the year consists of football in the Fall, basketball in the winter aligning with CAA start dates and all remaining Fall sports to occur within the NCAA’s championship season timeline.”

Statement from James Madison University Athletics

“Although the Colonial Athletic Association announced on Friday the suspension of Fall football competition as a conference, James Madison remains committed to an open exploration of various options for its competitive seasons for all sports in keeping with evolving guidance on health and public safety.

The CAA issued separate statements of 1) the suspension of Fall 2020 CAA football with the possible exploration of a spring 2021 season and 2) a still uncertain path for other CAA sports among the 10 all-sport member institutions while recognizing the myriad of factors impacting a diverse and widespread conference. No decision has been made at this time regarding changes to the start of Fall sports or men’s and women’s basketball competition from a conference standpoint.

“The most important takeaway for our JMU constituency is that we are committed to exploring all of our options to provide a championship experience for all of our programs, in keeping with our strong focus on the health and safety of all of our student-athletes and other members of the JMU community. That includes football as well as other Fall sports,” Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said. “While other institutions are facing different timelines and circumstances in making decisions, we are striving to get as much information as possible about the national landscape and public health considerations before making final determinations. We believe that we have a responsibility to explore all of the possible options at this point in time. As of now, the FCS Championship schedule has not been changed. Accordingly, while the majority of CAA institutions have decided not to continue with Fall football, we are currently looking at how to rebuild a schedule for the Fall season while following health and safety protocols and guidance. We will continue to follow medical guidance and recommendations for our region and university, and to monitor the decisions of the NCAA and CAA with regard to championship timeframes.”

JMU Athletics continues to stress flexibility in an uncertain environment. Current planning for the year consists of football in the Fall, basketball in the winter aligning with CAA start dates and all remaining Fall sports to occur within the NCAA’s championship season timeline. JMU Athletics is committed to providing competitive opportunities in 2020-21 for all 18 sport programs to the extent it is deemed safely possible and even if it requires a potentially non-traditional timeline.

A separate communication will be forthcoming directly to ticket purchasers regarding season tickets and donations.”
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Elon making plans to play football as independent after CAA suspends fall sports.

7/18/20 - https://journalnow.com/sports/

While the Colonial Athletic Association has announced that football has been suspended for the fall, Elon will continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic while trying to build a schedule as an independent.

The league gave its schools the option of playing fall sports if it is safe. Elon says it would not start competition before Aug. 29.

“As long as the NCAA and the FCS continue to support championship tournaments on their normal schedules," Elon athletics director Dave Blank said in a statement, "we believe Elon student-athletes should have the right to compete. We are making every effort to participate in all of our fall sports as long as we feel certain we can do so in a manner that prioritizes the health and safety of all. Should the pandemic situation change or the NCAA and/or FCS championships shift, we will re-evaluate our position appropriately for our fall sports."

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services today reported reported an additional 2,051 cases of the virus, down from 2,160 on Thursday. The state's record high of 2,462 was set Saturday.

Alamance County has reported 1,612 cases and 40 deaths during the pandemic. The county's seven-day average of new cases peaked just under 40 on June 11 and has remained above 20 per day since.

North Carolina is among 18 states cited in a report prepared for the White House, and obtained by the non-profit newsroom Center for Public Integrity, that should roll back reopening measures because of the increasing number of cases.

Elon athletes have been on campus since June 1, and voluntary workouts recently resumed, the school said in a news release. Under the guidance of medical personnel, Elon says several safety precautions have been implemented, including:

COVID-19 testing for all athletes.

Daily health screenings.
Use of masks and physical distancing.
Limiting the number of individuals in indoor and outdoor spaces to comply with state guidelines.
Enhanced cleaning and sterilization practices in all facilities and of all equipment.
Acclimatization and mitigation strategies in accordance with best practices developed by the National Athletic Trainers Association and the NCAA Sports Science Institute.

Elon's season opener is scheduled for Sept. 5 at The Citadel. A game Sept. 12 at Duke could be in jeopardy if the ACC follows the lead of the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences and opts for schedules only against league opponents. Elon's home opener is Sept. 19 against Campbell.

CAA member James Madison has begun trying to put together an independent schedule that would allow the Dukes to play in the fall, if there are enough active FCS teams for the NCAA to conduct FCS playoffs, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reports. JMU players had reported to campus for voluntary workouts.

Players have not reported at Richmond or William & Mary, the latter of which announced today that it won't play fall sports. Richmond is also expected to sit out.

Elon was scheduled to play at William & Mary on Sept. 26 and host Richmond on Oct. 31. 

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UD postpones fall sports until spring

UD Daily and Athletics July 17, 2020

Decision comes in response to CAA announcement

Editor’s note: UD Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak shared the following message with the UD community on July 17 in light of ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blue Hen Family,

As you know, we are facing uncertain and unprecedented times through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the health and safety of our people and our Delaware community continues to be our number one priority.

Today, the CAA Football Conference Board of Directors announced its decision to suspend conference competition for the upcoming 2020 football season.

We have also made the difficult decision to postpone all fall sports in addition to football (women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, and women's volleyball). We believe that the complexity of managing a complete competitive season (practice, home and away competitions, travel, etc.) was going to create significant risk to the health and safety of our people and to our campus.

The sports of rowing, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf will also not participate in fall competition.

While it is not 100% clear how, we will be relentless in our work to create a competitive season for our fall sports during the spring of 2021. There is nothing we want more than to have our student-athletes and coaches competing together for Delaware!

We will continue to monitor our winter sports and will make a decision on their competitive season at a later date.

We are in this together as one Blue Hen Family.

With great appreciation,

Chrissi Rawak, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Services
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CAA suspends fall football, but some schools may try to play
by Darin Gantt on July 17, 2020. https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

Yet another Division I college football conference has pulled the plug on the fall season.

The Colonial Athletic Association board of directors announced the suspension of the fall football season, though at least one member may still try to play.

“The institutions of the Colonial Athletic Association recognize that we compete in a conference made up of ten distinctive institutions that are located in eight states,” their statement read. “As one conference, we share a commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our student-athletes, campuses, and communities. As we each navigate this pandemic, we recognize that each of our ten members must rely on local and state guidance, as well as medical expertise that may result in different decisions and different timelines for each institution. Therefore, we support each other and the unique circumstances of each of our campuses and communities to make decisions that are best for them. We do so as ten institutions aligned as one conference.”

The CAA plays at the FCS level, with 10 members in eight states. Those schools include James Madison, Albany, Villanova, New Hampshire, Towson, Maine, Elon, Richmond, Delaware, William & Mary, Stony Brook, and Rhode Island.

James Madison athletic director Jeff Bourne said the school was looking at “how to rebuild a fall schedule,” while following appropriate medical guidance.

The Ivy League, Patriot League, and the MEAC have also chosen to not play football this fall.
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CAA, Blue Hens won’t be playing football this fall
Jul 17th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK – The CAA made it official this afternoon, suspending conference competition in football.

The Colonial Athletic Association, which includes the University of Delaware, becomes the fourth NCAA Division I FCS league to cancel its fall football season. It joins a list of coneferences which also includes the Ivy League, Patriot League and MEAC .

Those leagues canceled their seasons because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A press release issued by the CAA did say it “expressed a strong commitment to exploring the possibility of conducting a football season during the Spring of 2021, and will continue to analyze this scenario as more information becomes available and conditions continue to evolve.”

The Colonial also gave schools the option of trying to put an independent schedule for this fall. Delaware, though, said it would focus on trying to have a spring season.

The Blue Hens have played football every year since 1946.

Even though the CAA’s cancellation is for football only, Delaware is suspending competition in all fall sports. UD said it will honor the scholarships of any athlete who doesn’t want to participate because of the pandemic.

“These are certainly unprecedented and challenging times and this decision was an incredibly difficult one to make,” UD athletic director Chrissi Rawak said in a statement. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and entire community has always been, and will continue to be our top priority. We know how hard our student-athletes, coaches and staff work to compete for this great university.

“We also know that we have so many loyal supporters that bleed Blue and Gold, however, to mitigate risk and compete in a safe and healthy environment, ultimately this was a decision that needed to be made. We will do everything we can to give our student-athletes and coaches an opportunity to compete for the University of Delaware as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

“I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” said CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio. “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”

For the 2020-21 academic year, schools will have the ability to manage practice activities for its football student-athletes in a manner that best meets institutional, federal, state and local guidelines, as well as NCAA rules.
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CAA Football Votes To Suspend Conference Competition In 2020
Rob Washburn - CAA.com - 7/17/20

RICHMOND, Va. (July 17, 2020) – CAA Football announced today that the Conference’s Board of Directors has voted to suspend conference competition in the Fall of 2020 due to continuing concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference expressed a strong commitment to exploring the possibility of conducting a football season during the Spring of 2021, and will continue to analyze this scenario as more information becomes available and conditions continue to evolve.

In expressing an understanding of the uniqueness of the Conference’s composition (12 institutions that compete in other sports in four Division I Conferences), the geographical expansion of the Conference membership and the complexity of an ever-changing situation, the Conference’s Board of Directors also affirmed that the Conference’s policies would permit member institutions the ability to explore the option of pursuing playing an independent football schedule in the Fall of 2020.

“I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” said CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio. “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”

For the 2020-21 academic year, institutions will have the ability to manage practice activities for its football student-athletes in a manner that best meets institutional, federal, state and local guidelines, as well as NCAA Rules.

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CAA expected to call off football season
Jul 16th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK – Delaware’s dreams of playing a football season this fall have apparently come to an end.

Several media outlets are reporting that the Colonial Athletic Association will announce on Friday that it is canceling its football season for the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CAA would be joining a growing number of NCAA Division I FCS football conferences to cancel and/or suspend their seasons for the coming fall. That list already includes the Ivy League, Patriot League and MEAC.

The only remaining question would be whether Delaware waits to play a potential season in the spring or try to put together its own independent schedule for the fall. According to the media reports, the CAA is leaving that option open to its members.

But as more leagues decide not to play this fall, the independent schedule option may not soon be available anyway.

The last time Delaware didn’t play a football season was 1945. UD didn’t field a team for three years because of World War II.

The Blue Hens lost one of their non-conference contests on Thursday when the MEAC canceled its season. UD was slated to close the regular season by hosting Delaware State.

On its planned schedule, Delaware also has non-conference dates with Long Island and North Carolina State.
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Brunner helped sell Gannon on Hens
Jul 10th, 2020 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

Former Delaware star quarterback Rich Gannon played 18 seasons in the NFL after leaving Newark. Delaware State News file photo

Rich Gannon was only in eighth grade the first time he saw a Delaware football game.

His brother, John, was a freshman for the Blue Hens so Rich and his parents went to a game in Newark.

Gannon just remembers how impressed he was with Delaware’s quarterback that day, Scott Brunner.

“I was just blown away and amazed at his play-making ability, his footwork, his decision-making — just his overall command of the huddle and how he made it look so simple and so easy,” said Gannon.

“I kind of sat there in the stands … I’d never really watched the Wing-T operate and function. Scott was a master at it.”

The rest is history, of course. Brunner and Gannon, who followed him to Delaware five years later, are two of the greatest QBs that the Hens have produced.

Gannon told that story during a recent online roundtable discussion with some of UD’s most-accomplished quarterbacks on Bluehens.com.
A few of them told stories about how they ended up at Delaware in the first place.

Brunner remembers his first Delaware football game, too. But the youngster was cheering for Villanova that day because his father, John, was an assistant coach with the Wildcats.

Villanova won the game but Delaware Stadium’s atmosphere won over Brunner.

“You get into that stadium and it can be really enticing,” Brunner recalled. “It was the closest thing to big time that I was exposed to at that time. You get 20,000 people in the stands jumping up and down and you see good football.”

Matt Nagy, now the Chicago Bears’ head coach, remembers he really had two scholarship offers when he came out of high school in 1996.
Besides Delaware, he was being seriously recruited by New Hampshire coach Chip Kelly.

“It instantly reminded me of my high school program,” Nagy said about UD. “Everyone felt close, it felt authentic. It just felt like home.

“It was an easy choice. When you don’t have a lot of options, that’s one thing. But I know that if I would have had a lot of options, I would have stuck with that decision.”

Dominoes falling

There have no official announcements on any more changes to the football schedules of the state of Delaware’s three college football teams.

But the dominoes clearly started to fall this week with the coronavirus pandemic hanging over the season.

The Ivy League moved its fall athletic seasons to the spring while the Big 10 announced it will play only conference opponents. If the ACC follows suit, that means Delaware’s game at North Carolina State would be scrapped.

Joe D’Antonio, the commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association, said the league doesn’t have a deadline for making a decision yet.

“We are communicating on a very, very regular basis,” he said in an interview on marcdavissports. “So we’re in a position in a conference where, if and when we have to pivot quickly, we’ll be able to do so.”

Pollard still scoring

Former Delaware State women’s basketball standout Najai Pollard got off to a fast start playing professionally in Switzerland earlier this year.

In 14 games, the former MEAC Player of the Year averaged a league-leading 26.3 points and 10.1 points per game. She said most of the players on her team were between 16-18 years old.

Pollard isn’t sure where she’ll play next. She’s considering opportunities in Spain, Turkey, Israel, Poland and Switzerland.

“I was just really excited to play because my first initial goal was to always go to the WNBA,” Pollard was quoted on DSUHornets.com. “As I got older and started to understand how different the wage gap is between the WNBA and the NBA players, I thought ‘OK, maybe I’ll go overseas and travel more and see a different world.’

“I was just excited to be there, I was blessed and fortune to live the life that I live and just do the hard work and the dedication that I implemented into my life.”

Notes

• Delaware basketball standout Nate Darling has been one of the Blue Hen athletes back on campus for voluntary workouts. But the senior guard still hasn’t withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft eligibility list.

The deadline for players to withdraw from the draft is 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes first.

• Delaware State announced its list of five women’s basketball signees on Thursday. That group includes Kiana Coomber (6-0 senior transfer from Memphis); Christy Ojide (6-4, freshman from Barcelona, Spain); Daije Harris (5-8, senior from CalState-Bakersfield); Ashley Primas (6-1, junior transfer from Tennessee State); and Dania Cannon (5-5, freshman from Cape Henlopen High).

• Wesley College had 87 student-athletes named to the Atlantic East all-academic team. That list includes 20 former Henlopen Conference athletes.

• Delaware’s Jessica Antonio and Mira Selling were both named Scholar All-Americans by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association. It marks the first time in program history that the Blue Hens have had student-athletes named to the list.

• Rakim Lamarrem, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker from Potomac (Va.) High, has verbally committed to Delaware as part of the Hens’ 2021 football recruiting class.

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Delaware Ranked 15th in preseason Poll - Five CAA Football Teams Ranked In HERO Sports Preseason FCS Top 25 Poll

5/27/2020 Rob Washburn - caasports.com

RICHMOND, Va. (May 27, 2020) – Five CAA Football teams were ranked in the HERO Sports FCS Preseason Top 25 poll that was released on Wednesday, which was tied for the most teams of any conference.

Defending CAA champion James Madison was ranked #5, followed by #8 Villanova, #15 Delaware, #17 New Hampshire and #24 UAlbany.

James Madison welcomes back five starters on both offense and defense from last year’s 14-2 squad that advanced to the FCS National Championship game for the third time in the past four years. The Dukes, who finished the 2019 campaign ranked #2 in the nation, have reached the FCS playoffs for six consecutive years.

Villanova returns 10 starters on offense and eight starters on defense from last season’s 9-4 squad that earned a berth in the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2016. Among the returnees for the Wildcats is quarterback Daniel Smith, who accounted for 48 total touchdowns a year ago.

Delaware brings back an experienced team that includes 10 returning starters on defense and seven regulars on offense. The Blue Hens are looking to make a return to the FCS playoffs after making the field in 2018.

New Hampshire features seven starters back on offense and seven on defense from last year’s 6-5 team. The Wildcats, who made 14 consecutive FCS playoff appearances from 2004-17, welcome legendary head coach Sean McDonnell back to the sidelines after missing last season with health issues.

UAlbany looks to continue to the momentum after posting a 9-5 overall mark, a best-ever second-place CAA finish, and reaching the second round of the FCS playoffs for the first time in 2019. Five starters return on offense and defense for the Great Danes, including All-America running back Karl Mofor.

Elon was one of nine teams that was among others receiving votes.

CAA Football’s five ranked teams was tied with the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Big Sky Conference as the three leagues accounted for 15 of the 25 squads in the preseason poll.

HERO Sports FCS Preseason Top 25 Poll
1. North Dakota State
2. South Dakota State
3. Northern Iowa
4. Sacramento State
5. James Madison
6. Weber State
7. Montana
8. Villanova
9. Montana State
10. Central Arkansas
11. Kennesaw State
12. Illinois State
13. Austin Peay
14. Furman
15. Delaware
16. Princeton
17. New Hampshire
18. Eastern Washington
19. North Carolina A&T
20. Florida A&M
21. The Citadel
22. Southern Illinois
23. Sam Houston State
24. UAlbany
25. Yale

Also receiving votes (alphabetical):
Alcorn State, Chattanooga, Dartmouth, Elon, Nicholls, Portland State, SEMO, UT Martin, Wofford

=============================================
Joe Flacco signs one-year, $1.5M deal with Jets

May 22, 2020 - https://www.nfl.com

Less than a month after undergoing a neck procedure, Joe Flacco has found employment.

Flacco has agreed to a one-year deal with the New York Jets, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported. The deal will pay Flacco $1.5 million and includes another $3 million in incentives, Garafolo added.

Flacco underwent a 45-minute disc repair in early April, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported in early May. He's on schedule to be cleared sometime between late August to mid-September, Pelissero added at the time.

Flacco spent 2019 in Denver, where he was acquired via trade to be the starter but suffered a neck injury that robbed him of the second half of his season and any chance to stick around with the Broncos.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas, who spent 14 seasons as a Ravens scout, is bringing along Baltimore's former franchise quarterback as an ideally reliable backup to Sam Darnold. Douglas was a key member of the Ravens' personnel department who fought for Flacco during a draft process that eventually led to Baltimore taking Flacco with the 18th-overall pick, per NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.

Flacco's signing is an improvement over where the Jets were at this time last season, when they had Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk as the team's backups to Darnold. Both were called into action almost immediately when Darnold came down with mononucleosis and missed a month of action, essentially torpedoing the team's chances before they even got out of the gate.

With Flacco on the team, the Jets can at least take solace in the fact that a veteran with experience exists in case of emergency. Flacco is far from the Super Bowl MVP he was back in 2013, but he might still have enough in the tank to help the Jets in a time of need. His experience should be valuable to a still-developing Darnold, too.

========================================
Gino Gradkowski's Next Step After The NFL Meant A Return To Delaware

5/4/2020 Andy Lohman bluehenfootball.com

In a way, Gino Gradkowski had already been through an NFL Draft process. Six years earlier, he had watched as his brother, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round after being projected as a mid-round pick.

Gino, an offensive lineman who spent three years as a Delaware Blue Hen after starting his collegiate career at West Virginia, was not a highly regarded prospect at the outset of 2012.

But after visits and workouts with teams, his stock started to rise and just after noon on April 28, 2012, the Baltimore Ravens selected Gradkowski with the third pick of the fourth round.

"It's like winning a championship pretty much, personally," Gradkowski said of getting drafted. "It was awesome. With my whole family and all my friends from the area, it was just a big block party at my house. It was a lot of fun. A great experience, a day I'll never forget."

As a rookie, Gradkowski served as a back-up lineman and played on special teams for the Baltimore squad that won Super Bowl XLVII behind veterans like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, and fellow Blue Hen and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.

"I know from learning from those older guys, and even my brother's experiences, that it's very hard to win a Super Bowl in the league," Gradkowski said. "So to be able to experience that my rookie year was incredible."

While he was one of the elite linemen at the FCS level during his career Blue and Gold, the jump to being an NFL center, essentially the quarterback of the offensive line, required Gradkowski to hone his skills in communication and reading opposing defenses.

"Every team in the league relies on their center to get the offensive line on the same page with protections and run-game assignments, so there's a lot of preparation that goes into it," Gradkowski said. "You have to really keep your eyes up and be ready for whatever the defense is going to throw at you."

The following year in 2013, Gradkowski became the Ravens' starting center, playing 100% of Baltimore's offensive snaps, hiking the ball to his fellow Delaware alumnus Flacco. The Pittsburgh native played in six NFL seasons for five different teams from 2012-18, including the Falcons, Panthers, Jets and Broncos.

While being an NFL journeyman has its challenges, especially logistically moving across the country, Gradkowski is grateful for the experiences he had in professional football, namely pointing to the relationships that he formed.

"Now that I'm able to reflect and look back, I really appreciate my stops in meeting so many wonderful people and getting to experience so many great cities and towns to live in," Gradkowski said. "I think my career, the way it worked out, has prepared me for life after football better than being in one place could have."

After being named a captain for the Panthers in Week 11 of the 2016 season, Gradkowski had to get knee surgery and ended the season on injured reserve. He was back on IR before the 2017 campaign with a left shoulder injury. While he didn't take a snap during the 2017 season, the time off helped him to seriously consider what the next part of his life was going to look like.

Gradkowski made seven appearances for the Broncos in 2018, but with injuries slowing his body down and he and his wife expecting a daughter, it was his last NFL season.

"We were expecting a baby, so that gave me something to look forward to and get excited about and definitely put my priorities in line that life is more than football," Gradkowski said.

His transition into life after football brought him back to Newark as Delaware athletics' Assistant Director for Student Services Leadership.

In his new role, Gradkowski works under Senior Associate AD for Student Services & Leadership Jenn Judy in helping student-athletes prepare for life after their sport, just like the transition he just made.

And just like the relationships that made his career in the NFL so special, he now gets the opportunity to forge relationships with Delaware student-athletes as they prepare for the working world.

"The reason why UD is so important and so special to me is because it was there for me," Gradkowski said. "I transferred to UD from West Virginia after my second year. In that transition and in this transition from football to the working world, Delaware was there for me with an opportunity, welcomed me with open arms and helped me in my adjustments, then and now. That's why it's so important to me to give back any way I can."
===============================================
From Undrafted To Starter: Troy Reeder's Impressive Rookie NFL Season

4/22/2020 Andy Lohman - BLUEHENS.COM

The last day of the NFL Draft can be chaotic if you're a fringe prospect, like many FCS players are. Years of hard work and dedication culminating in the chance to fulfill a dream of playing professional football. As the anxiety builds with each pick off the board, countless different area codes start blowing up your phone: scouts and coaches with talks of late round picks and free agent contracts.

For Delaware's Troy Reeder, the final day of the 2019 Draft on April 27 was another stop on a journey that had already been filled with ups and downs.

Following two years at Penn State (one as a redshirt), the Hockessin, Del., native returned home to play three seasons for the Blue Hens from 2016-18, earning All-Colonial Athletic Association honors in each year. Reeder had a prolific career in the Blue and Gold, racking up 283 tackles in three years, the 22nd most in program history. As a redshirt senior in 2018, he piled up 131 tackles, the fifth most in a single season by a Delaware player, which earned him recognition as a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the FCS' top defensive player.

The team's performance took a positive step forward in Reeder's final year as well. After just missing out on the playoffs in 2017, the Blue Hens earned an at-large playoff bid in 2018 with conference wins over fellow playoff teams Towson (which had clipped Delaware 18-17 the previous year) and Elon.

"In our conference, the teams are all so good and so if you don't win the 50-50 games, you're going to have a losing record," Reeder said of beating Towson and Elon. "That was kind of the final thing, like we made it, we pushed it over the top…that was kind of a finishing touch."

After back-to-back First Team All-CAA campaigns, Reeder felt like he had proven himself worthy of an invite to one of the senior bowls and the NFL Scouting Combine, but no such invitation came. That put a significant emphasis on Delaware's Pro Day in March of 2019, with representatives from all 32 NFL teams on hand. Reeder felt good about his performance, confident that he had proven himself draft worthy. But after all seven rounds, Reeder remained undrafted.

In some ways, undrafted free agents have an advantage over late-round draft picks in that if they have multiple offers, they get to choose their best fit; in a way, like college recruiting. That's how Reeder became a Los Angeles Ram.

"I signed with them 15 minutes after the draft was over," Reeder said. "L.A. was my number one team going into the day that I said if I don't get drafted, and they don't take a high-round guy at my position, this is a really good spot for me. Really good coaches. Guys that, throughout the draft process, I felt like in a way recruited me. I felt like they were telling the truth and were good, quality guys."

Signing an NFL contract is a huge accomplishment, but by no means does it guarantee a regular-season roster spot: teams have to cut their rosters from 90 to 53 before Week 1.

"There's 90 guys right now. And all 90 of them were really good college players, All-American high school players," Reeder said. "There's no big fish in a small pond. You are one of many big fish.

"I think the best way to approach it is as if your career depended on it," Reeder continued. "You're never safe in this profession, so you always have to have that chip on your shoulder, just trying to win every day."

With that mentality, Reeder made the 53-man roster out of training camp. He looks back at a moment in OTAs (Organized Team Activities, a series of 10 offseason practices before training camp) for when it clicked for him that he belonged in the NFL.

"One of the last days of OTAs, they were running a two-minute drill and they threw me in against the first team offense. At middle linebacker, you're one of the guys running the show, getting the calls. You have the mic in your helmet, so you're relaying what the defensive coordinator's telling you to the team," Reeder said. "I think that was really big for me going into that month and a half off in the summer before camp. That gave me that confidence and that feeling that OK, I just played the team that was the best offense in the league the year before and I was fine."

Reeder played in all 16 games as the Rams went 9-7, eventually starting eight contests after an injury to Bryan Hager, racking up 58 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles. His most productive game came in a close 30-29 loss at Seattle in Week 5, when he recorded 13 tackles.

Before he was proving himself as a rising defensive star, Reeder was cutting his teeth in the NFL game on special teams, a signature of his career. The linebacker got special teams snaps in all 16 contests in 2019. Even when he was one of the premier linebackers in the CAA, Reeder, ever the competitor, was asking for snaps on the special teams unit.

"I've always really loved special teams," Reeder said. "If you're competitive, you want to be out there as many snaps as you can. I think that helped me prepare for my role on special teams in the NFL."

The Rams had some of the best specialists in the league during Reeder's rookie year. Kicker Greg Zuerlein is known for his powerful leg, punter Johnny Hekker was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team, and long snapper Jack McQuaide is a nine-year veteran. That star power helped fuel Reeder's passion for doing the dirty work of blocking.

"I think everybody recognizes that's a great way to go out and make your first impression, is through special teams," Reeder said. "It was just a really good group of guys that you wanted to protect."

Now that Reeder has a season of quality experience under his belt in the fast-paced NFL, he's ready to take the next step and evolve as a bright young star for the Rams.

"Coming back as a veteran player now, you're no longer an undrafted rookie," Reeder said. "You're like, 'I played last year and I mattered and I made a difference,' I think that whole thing, confidence and poise and experience, just drives you to be able to take the next step."
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UD team using supercomputer simulations to analyze the coronavirus:
 
Ann Manser March 27, 2020 - https://www.udel.edu/udaily/

Two University of Delaware researchers have been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, using the kinds of high-tech supercomputing tools that previously led them to new insights into other viruses that harm human health.

Juan Perilla and Jodi Hadden-Perilla, both assistant professors in UD’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received the one-year, $200,000 grant this week through the NSF’s Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program. The NSF says RAPID proposals are used in cases of “severe urgency,” including quick responses to natural disasters.

The UD researchers are collaborating with investigator Tyler Reddy, also a computational virologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has collaborated with them on previous studies.

The researchers will use computer simulations to analyze the molecular structure of the virus that has led to the current worldwide pandemic. Learning more about the structure “is now essential to provide understanding of viral entry and infection of human cells, a first step in developing novel drugs and vaccines to combat” the disease, Perilla and Hadden-Perilla wrote in a summary of their proposal.

“If you understand how something works, you can understand how to make it stop working,” Hadden-Perilla said of the need to analyze how the virus functions and how it infects people in order to disrupt it. “We need to know the atomistic structure so that researchers can determine ways to target it as they work to develop treatments and vaccines.”

Working remotely, using a robust infrastructure that connects them to their lab computers and supercomputing resources, the research team, which includes UD students, will focus on using supercomputers to perform molecular dynamics (MD) simulations at the atomic level.

MD simulations allow researchers to study the way molecules move in order to learn how they carry out their functions in nature. Computer simulations are the only method that can reveal the motion of molecular systems down to the atomic level and are sometimes referred to as the “computational microscope.”

Viruses aren’t static, Perilla noted, so simulations of the SARS-CoV-2 (the technical name of the virus) are key to understanding its components and functions.

The NSF grant provides the research team with time on the Frontera supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Other COVID-19 researchers are also using Frontera, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, as part of the new public-private High Performance Computing Consortium formed to combat the virus.

In their grant application, Perilla and Hadden-Perilla said their team’s work could have an immediate impact on the pandemic. To enhance that potential, the researchers plan to disseminate their results “broadly and quickly,” they said, estimating that they could have the basics of their model — a first step in the process — in place within a few weeks.

“We have a lot of experience with this kind of research,” said Perilla, who has used molecular dynamics simulations to investigate other viruses in recent years. 

He was part of a team that gained new insights into HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, by studying the capsid, the protein shell that encloses the viral genome, and its interactions with a specific protein. The research marked an important advance in better understanding the mechanism of HIV infection. 

Perilla and Hadden-Perilla used similar high-tech tools to study the hepatitis B virus, again focusing on the structure of the capsid and how it moves, distorts and interacts with its environment. Those simulations were able to reveal a more complete picture of the capsid than studies done with experimental microscopes.

In the case of their latest work, Hadden-Perilla called it “a critical moment” for research being conducted in the midst of a pandemic, a time when both scientists and the public need as much accurate and complete information as possible. 

“As soon as we know, we’re going to share,” she said.
About the grant

The research project, “Biophysical characterization of the native SARS-CoV-2 virion by atomistic simulations,” is funded by the NSF’s Molecular Biophysics Program in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and the EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program.
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NCAA approves extra year of eligibility for spring athletes
play


Mar 30, 2020

Mark Schlabach ESPN Senior Writer 

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to grant an extra year of eligibility to all student-athletes in spring sports whose seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA's decision will extend the eligibility of all spring-sport student-athletes -- not just seniors whose careers would have ended after the cancellation of their seasons -- and will allow schools to expand their rosters beyond current scholarship limits to account for incoming recruits and seniors who were expected to leave.

The NCAA will leave it up to each school to decide whether to grant seniors in spring sports less or equal financial aid next year, compared to what they received this year. The NCAA said in a statement that the financial aid flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility in 2019-20.

The waivers will be applied for student-athletes competing in spring sports: baseball, softball, tennis, golf, outdoor track and field, lacrosse, rowing, men's volleyball, beach volleyball and women's water polo. The decision does not include winter sports such as basketball, hockey, swimming and diving, and gymnastics.

"The council's decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level," said Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletic director at the University of Pennsylvania. "The board of governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that."

The council also increased the roster limit in baseball, the only spring sport with such a limit, for student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What spring programs must weigh now is how to disperse scholarships -- as well as roster spots and playing time -- knowing that, with freshman classes on their way in from high schools, teams will have more players at their disposal next year than they are accustomed to.

Maryland men's lacrosse coach John Tillman was a guest on SportsCenter on Monday, and he spoke with Scott Van Pelt about that issue. From the standpoint of giving players another shot at glory, he said, this decision is terrific. But it gets confusing after that.

"You build those strong relationships, so you're excited for them to potentially have another opportunity," Tillman said. "But we're in uncharted waters here. There are a lot of things that need to be talked through and worked out. We're going to have to have some conversations, not only within our university but within our conference, to kind of figure out where we go from here."

Lacrosse, like many spring sports, doesn't typically feature the scholarship allotment to fill an entire roster. As such, players and their families will have to decide if another year of eligibility is worth it financially.

"You're talking about potentially having two freshman classes. That's something that certainly we would have to work through," Tillman said. "I'm not sure that every family has budgeted for five years of lacrosse. We only have 12.6 scholarships that we divide up amongst our players, so it's very rare that someone is going to school for free.

"There's some families that are going to have to make some decisions. There's a lot more to it."

The NCAA board of governors voted unanimously on Thursday to distribute $225 million -- less than half of what it previously budgeted -- to Division I schools in June, following the cancellation of its basketball tournaments and other winter and spring championships because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA had planned to distribute about $600 million, with the first distribution scheduled for April.

Last week, NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed concern about schools being able to incur the additional scholarship costs in the current economic environment.

"The next 12 months are going to be extremely hard on a lot of colleges and universities, especially small colleges that aren't going to have tuition revenue," Emmert said. "They're going to have high costs because they sent their students away, but they still have all of their costs. They're not going to have any revenue from their endowments because of the crash of the stock market. The revenue from the tournaments isn't going to be there, and the revenue from us is unlikely to be as big as it has been in the past.

"So then to turn around and say, 'By the way, we're going to increase the cost of your student-athletics program,' that's a challenge. For the big schools that are the high-revenue institutions, that's a whole different deal. You have to remember that college sports is, of course, something 1,100 different schools do, and the business models for all of them are very different."
NCAA approves extra year of eligibility for spring athletes
play

Mar 30, 2020

Mark Schlabach ESPN Senior Writer 

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to grant an extra year of eligibility to all student-athletes in spring sports whose seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA's decision will extend the eligibility of all spring-sport student-athletes -- not just seniors whose careers would have ended after the cancellation of their seasons -- and will allow schools to expand their rosters beyond current scholarship limits to account for incoming recruits and seniors who were expected to leave.

The NCAA will leave it up to each school to decide whether to grant seniors in spring sports less or equal financial aid next year, compared to what they received this year. The NCAA said in a statement that the financial aid flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility in 2019-20.

The waivers will be applied for student-athletes competing in spring sports: baseball, softball, tennis, golf, outdoor track and field, lacrosse, rowing, men's volleyball, beach volleyball and women's water polo. The decision does not include winter sports such as basketball, hockey, swimming and diving, and gymnastics.

"The council's decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level," said Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletic director at the University of Pennsylvania. "The board of governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that."

The council also increased the roster limit in baseball, the only spring sport with such a limit, for student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What spring programs must weigh now is how to disperse scholarships -- as well as roster spots and playing time -- knowing that, with freshman classes on their way in from high schools, teams will have more players at their disposal next year than they are accustomed to.

Maryland men's lacrosse coach John Tillman was a guest on SportsCenter on Monday, and he spoke with Scott Van Pelt about that issue. From the standpoint of giving players another shot at glory, he said, this decision is terrific. But it gets confusing after that.

"You build those strong relationships, so you're excited for them to potentially have another opportunity," Tillman said. "But we're in uncharted waters here. There are a lot of things that need to be talked through and worked out. We're going to have to have some conversations, not only within our university but within our conference, to kind of figure out where we go from here."

Lacrosse, like many spring sports, doesn't typically feature the scholarship allotment to fill an entire roster. As such, players and their families will have to decide if another year of eligibility is worth it financially.

"You're talking about potentially having two freshman classes. That's something that certainly we would have to work through," Tillman said. "I'm not sure that every family has budgeted for five years of lacrosse. We only have 12.6 scholarships that we divide up amongst our players, so it's very rare that someone is going to school for free.

"There's some families that are going to have to make some decisions. There's a lot more to it."

The NCAA board of governors voted unanimously on Thursday to distribute $225 million -- less than half of what it previously budgeted -- to Division I schools in June, following the cancellation of its basketball tournaments and other winter and spring championships because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA had planned to distribute about $600 million, with the first distribution scheduled for April.

Last week, NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed concern about schools being able to incur the additional scholarship costs in the current economic environment.

"The next 12 months are going to be extremely hard on a lot of colleges and universities, especially small colleges that aren't going to have tuition revenue," Emmert said. "They're going to have high costs because they sent their students away, but they still have all of their costs. They're not going to have any revenue from their endowments because of the crash of the stock market. The revenue from the tournaments isn't going to be there, and the revenue from us is unlikely to be as big as it has been in the past.

"So then to turn around and say, 'By the way, we're going to increase the cost of your student-athletics program,' that's a challenge. For the big schools that are the high-revenue institutions, that's a whole different deal. You have to remember that college sports is, of course, something 1,100 different schools do, and the business models for all of them are very different."
==============================================
Will the 2020 college football season be canceled? 
Coaches, ADs weigh possibility and impact.
The potential of not playing college football in 2020 exists, whether you want to admit it or not.

Dennis Dodd
Mar 25, 2020 -  https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/

What was once unthinkable has quietly become a discussion point and concern throughout college athletics. Will the coronavirus pandemic force the cancellation of the 2020 college football season?

With it already having taken out the NCAA Tournament and the remainder of 2019-20 season, including the College World Series, athletic departments are looking ahead to football as the next major event on the collegiate sports calendar.

"I am not trying to be overly pessimistic, but I'm doubtful we're going to have a 2020 football season, NFL or college," said Warren K. Zola, a respected expert on sports law and executive director of Boston College's Carroll School of Management. "That's just me. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that we're all back over the summer."

From a view more than five months from kickoff on Aug. 29, that concept is hard to comprehend.

Just pause for a moment and consider where we are right now as a country with the coronavirus. With 72 percent of Americans believing containment will take a few months or longer, 57 percent say the battle with the coronavirus is "going badly," according to a CBS News poll. There are currently 55,330 confirmed cases in the United States with 804 deaths, and neither the testing rate nor the infection rate has reached its peak.

Now imagine, five months from now, jamming 100,000 fans on a steamy Saturday afternoon into a stadium to watch 22 men in close proximity on any given snap running 150-plus plays.

That's the furthest thing from social distancing.

It hit Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork this week when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed. That event was set to take place roughly a month before the start of the college football season (July 24 to Aug. 9). Olympic officials finally concluded it was not wise for 11,000 athletes from all over the world to congregate for two-plus weeks.

"With that news right there, then that starts creeping into the football season and training camps and scheduling," Bjork said. "… I don't know how you operate [if the season is canceled]. Where would the bailout come from? Because we would all have to have one if we were going to maintain any sort of normalcy."

Since about March 12, when the NCAA Tournament was canceled, the nation in general has been hunkered down facing a new normal: trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

That has left college athletic programs pondering the possible loss of their top revenue generator. The cancellation of the 2020 college football season -- or even a drastic reduction in its games -- would dwarf missing out on a month of March Madness. Football is the nation's most popular sport. The country's attachment to it -- economically and emotionally -- cannot be underestimated.

College football as an enterprise accounted for $6.5 billion in revenue during the 2018-19 academic year, according to Andy Schwarz, a partner and consulting expert with California-based law firm OSKR. That's an average of $51 million per school.

In general, 80 percent of FBS athletic budgets are made up of football revenue.

"Just the thought of it, I think we're all thinking about [losing the season]," Georgia AD Greg McGarity said. "Now, what does that mean? That's what is going to be defined here over the next two or three weeks."

Or more.

Spring practices and spring games are already canceled. Players have moved home to study remotely. Recruiting activities have been suspended, too.

After the semester concludes, what's next?

Coronavirus cases are multiplying at a dizzying rate in hot spots like New York. Obviously, there is no assurance the practices lost this spring will be made up in the summer … nor whether players will even be able to assemble in a group before fall camp begins … if it begins at all.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall already said he is open to a "modified season."

North Carolina coach Mack Brown recently told reporters, "There is a fear of, 'Would we have a season?' Would we have a partial season? What does a partial season mean?' There is a great concern because of the remedy that comes in with football."

"I just told our staff this is like a war. It's like a natural disaster. We have to treat it as such," Brown said in a separate interview with CBS Sports.

Asked about the season being impacted, Utah's Kyle Whittingham told The Athletic, "I think there's absolutely that possibility, as much as I hate to say it."

There is no central authority for college football. If there are cancellations, they will likely come ad hoc from the conferences.

Whatever happens, college football is most likely to take its lead from the SEC. Asked directly last week whether a complete season would be played in 2020, commissioner Greg Sankey said, "I'm a half-full person, so I have optimism."

Twice in the last week, Sankey has referred somewhat cryptically to "contingency plans." Asked to define those plans on "The Paul Finebaum Show," Sankey said, "Not yet, simply because the focus is on next year as scheduled. … There will be a time to figure out what that means."

"I think you always have to have contingency plans as much as possible," Florida AD Scott Stricklin said. "I'm optimistic [that], because of the dramatic steps everyone's taken, we're going to be able to have a sense of normalcy."

Stricklin raised eyebrows when he previously told the Orlando Sentinel: "[Not playing] will shake the foundation of college athletics. As everyone knows, football pays for the enterprise to go forward."

One example of the impact: Georgia's $176 million athletic budget is the sixth-largest in the country. That means football is responsible for $141 million of that total (80 percent).

"If we just had more clarity on when the all-clear horn is going to sound, that certainly helps," McGarity said. "That's what nobody really knows right now. It would be irresponsible to say that we feel good about [starting practice] Aug. 1. … You don't want young people to all the sudden get their hopes up."

"Mr. College Football" Tony Barnhart has covered the sport for everyone from CBS Sports and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the SEC Network. He is a national voice for college football and a prominent one in the South. For the last 30-plus years, Barnhart has attended the Florida-Georgia game with his fraternity brothers.

When the mere prospect of there not being a season was raised last week, Barnhart said, "My fraternity brothers were not happy. They said, 'Listen, you can do what you want to do, but you cannot mess with our Florida-Georgia game and don't mess with college football.'"

"Will we get through it?" he added. "Yes. But the psychological blow of not having a college season in my part of the world would be significant. The thought of not having it would be tough, tough to handle."

CBS Sports spoke with several coaches and administrators on the subject.

Some were optimistic. "I gotta look at it like we're going to have a season," Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. "We're going to get this thing in."

Some were whimsical. "I saw somebody said, 'If you threatened college football season, everybody in the South would lock themselves in their house for two weeks to get it over with,'" Stricklin said. "I kind of feel like we're not far from that. I think people are really taking it seriously."

Some were philosophical. "I don't want to be an alarmist, but there a lot of realities that are going to result," McGarity said. "Just like your 401K [and] mine. All the money we saved in our investments are affected."

Some were matter of fact. "I think we will [play]," Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said. "We've got to follow the medical people and what they think. The biggest thing, the scariest thing, is the unknown. They don't know the full dimension of this."

Try selling season tickets in these uncertain times. Several schools have extended renewal deadlines for obvious reasons.

"One or two things could drive that [interest] down," Stricklin said. "One is people don't think [the season is] going to happen. I don't think we're at that point."

Try raising money for facilities. Florida and Georgia are well down the road in raising funds for building major athletic projects.

Never mind any existing shortfall. There may be issue of re-recruiting donors who have already pledged.

"Those are all gifts," McGarity said. "They're not obligated by law to make those gifts come true."

There is uncertainty everywhere.

For now, we'd all settle for the season coming true. 
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Blue Hens Earn Best Recruiting Class Rank In Program History

2/10/2020 Blehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – With 17 starters returning next season, the University of Delaware football program was already built for a bright future. That future got even brighter with 15 incoming recruits in the Class of 2020. 

How bright exactly? 

According to HERO Sports, the nation's top recruiting site for FCS programs, it's the best in program history with the Blue Hens ranked third in the country among all incoming classes. 

Three incoming recruits, Fintan Brose (#15), R.J. McNamara (#65) and Marcus Yarns (#83) all ranked among the Top-100 incoming recruits by HERO Sports. 

"I'm really excited about this group of student-athletes that signed with us. This is an extremely talented group that not only has had success on the football field, but off the field as well," head coach Danny Rocco said. "It's a group that is filled with student-athletes that will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact on our program and I'm excited for their future with us here at Delaware."

This year's class is the second straight ranked in the top-10 nationally after last year's class was ranked ninth in the country. 

Delaware will open its spring football camp next month with a full spring schedule becoming available in the next two weeks. 

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Former Players Veach and Bleymaier Headed to Super Bowl:
1/19/2020 - bluehens.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Over the years, the University of Delaware football program has built a pathway to the NFL.

From Scott Brunner to Rich Gannon to Joe Flacco to Nick Boyle to Bilal Nichols, the list goes on and on. That list is not limited to on the field and this weekend, two former Blue Hen standouts shining off the field punched their tickets to Super Bowl 54 in Miami on Feb. 2nd.

Brett Veach, Class of 2001, and Joey Bleymaier, Class of 2005, are both members of the Kansas City Chiefs staff with Veach serving in his fourth season as the organization's general manager, while Bleymaier is in his fifth year on the coaching staff. 

The Chiefs went 12-4 in the regular season and will face the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers for the Lombardi Trophy. 

While at UD, Veach led the Blue Hens to a four-year mark of 30-16 that included three winning seasons and a 12-2 mark in 2000 when Delaware advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) national semifinals. Veach earned third team All-Atlantic 10 Conference honors in 2000 as a junior wide receiver and is one of only seven football student-athletes in UD history to earn CoSIDA Academic All-American honors. He earned CoSIDA District 2 All-Academic honors three times.

During his four-year career, Veach caught 99 passes for 1,470 yards and 12 touchdowns and averaged 22.2 yards on 70 career kick returns. He ranks No. 12 all-time at Delaware with 3,382 career all-purpose yards.

Bleymaier, who serves as a offensive quality control and passing game coordinator for one of the most prolific offensive units in the NFL, was a four-year wide out for the Blue Hens, including being a member of the 2003 National Championship team. 
======================================================
Bright Future An in-depth look at what Delaware football returns for 2020:

By Andy Lohman - Posted 1/12/2020 - from bluehens.com

A little over one month removed from the 2019 Delaware football season, it is clear the year wasn’t what anyone expected or hoped for. A year after returning to the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2010, the Blue Hens went 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association, finishing in the bottom half of the conference.

But while everybody associated with Delaware football has higher hopes and expectations for the team, there are a lot of reasons for Blue Hens fans to be optimistic moving forward. An analysis of the roster shows a young, inexperienced team that earned valuable playing time throughout the season.

The 2018 iteration of the Blue Hens was stacked with 32 seniors, several of whom are now playing in the NFL. Naturally, Delaware had a lot to replace for 2019. The entire starting defensive secondary and linebacking corps, plus every starting wide receiver was different from the previous year, mostly with players who had played minimal snaps to that point in their career. Now, the opposite is true for the 2020 roster.

Here's a look at the sheer volume of production Delaware brings back for next season:

https://spark.adobe.com/page/0Z6QcxBIUVR2B/

 

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Blue Hens Welcome 11 In Early Signing Period

12/18/2019 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – Success is built upon the people involved in the process.

That group of people for the University of Delaware football program continues to grow as the Blue Hens welcomed 11 new signees on the first day of early signing period. 

The Blue Hens swept through Pennsylvania with six incoming recruits, along with three from Maryland and one each from Delaware and Virginia. 

"I'm really excited about this group of student-athletes that signed with us today. This is an extremely talented group that not only has had success on the football field, but off the field as well," head coach Danny Rocco said. "It's a group that is filled with student-athletes that will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact on our program and I'm excited for their future with us here at Delaware."

Here's a look at the incoming class.

Name Position Ht. Wt. Hometown/High School
Deven Bollinger QB 6-5 212 New Tripoli, Pa./Northwestern Lehigh
Fintan Brose DL 6-2 290 Irwin, Pa./Hempfield Area
Jack Hall DL 6-2 280 Midlothian, Va./Benedictine Prep
RJ Macnamara LB 6-2 222 Lansdale, Pa./North Penn
Andrew Miklos TE 6-4 235 Manheim, Pa./Lancaster Catholic
Micah Pr'out DB 6-0 160 Waldorf, Md./North Point
Patrick Shupp OL 6-3 325 Easton, Pa./Easton
Dillon Trainer LB 6-1 225 Philadelphia, Pa./LaSalle College High School
Nic Ware DB 6-0 190 Montgomery Village, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel
Debo Williams LB 6-0 220 Smyrna, Del./Smyrna
Marcus Yarns RB 5-11 185 Salisbury, Md./Parkside

Deven Bollinger (QB, 6-5, 212, New Tripoli, Pa./Northwestern Lehigh)

Two-sport standout at Northwestern Lehigh 
Two-year captain of both basketball and football teams
Four-time All-League honoree
Two All-State accolades
Passed for 7,324 yards, 90 TDs, while also rushing for over 2,000 yards and 22 TDs
Helped his team to 19 wins over final two seasons, including the league title this past fall


Fintan Brose (DL, 6-2, 290, Irwin, Pa./Hempfield Area)

Four-sport athlete in high school competing in football, basketball, baseball and track & field
Two-time All-Conference honoree on the defensive line
Had over 25 Division I offers


Jack Hall (DL, 6-2, 280, Midlothian, Va./Benedictine Prep)

Four-year starter at Bendictine Prep
Two-time team captain
Helped team to three state championships appearances including winning the title this fall
Earned First-Team All-State accolades as a junior when he piled up 75 tackles and 15 sacks
Also played baseball for the Cadets


RJ Macnamara (LB, 6-2, 222, Lansdale, Pa./North Penn)

Three-sport athlete in high school (football, lacrosse, wrestling)
Captain of both lacrosse and football during senior season
Two-time First Team All-League and All-Area
Chose Delaware among 18 Division I offers
Former teammates with current Blue Hen Justis Henley


Andrew Miklos (TE, 6-4, 235, Manheim, Pa./Lancaster Catholic)

Big body tight end who starred in both basketball and football
Two-year captain of the football team
Four-time All-Conference honoree
Piled up 113 catches, 1,405 yards and 19 TDs during his four seasons
Helped his team to three section championships, including back-to-back during his junior and senior seasons


Micah Pr'out (DB, 6-0, 160, Waldorf, Md./North Point)

Athletic DB who played both football and basketball in high school
Three-year starter at DB for North Point 
Helped team pile up over 30 wins during his career
Two-time All-Conference honoree
Tallied 67 tackles, four INTs and 14 PBUs


Patrick Shupp (OL, 6-3, 325, Easton, Pa./Easton)

Big body addition to the offensive line
Two-sport athlete at Easton, playing both football and lacrosse
Served as team captain during senior season
Three-year starter on the OL at Easton
Two-time All-Conference honoree
Chose Delaware among 12 Division I offers


Dillon Trainer (LB, 6-1, 225, Philadelphia, Pa./ LaSalle College High School)

Three-sport athlete at LaSalle College High School
Three-time All-Conference honoree in football
Two-time All-Conference honoree in wrestling
Brother of Liam Trainer, rising sophomore LB on the Blue Hens


Nic Ware (DB, 6-0, 190, Montgomery Village, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel)

Two-year starter, serving as captain his senior season
Helped his team to 2019 WCAC Championship
Earned two All-Conference honors
Piled up nearly 90 tackles, along with five INTs and over 20 PBUs during his career


Debo Williams (LB, 6-0, 220, Smyrna, Del./Smyrna)

Four-year starter for Smyrna High School
Two-time team captain for the Eagles
Part of two state championships
2019 DIAA Defensive Player of the Year
Set school record with 153 tackles, 32 of which were TFLs, in addition to eight sacks
Racked up nearly 500 career tackles in four seasons
Three-time All-State honoree

Marcus Yarns (RB, 5-11, 185, Salisbury, Md./Parkside)

Three-sport athlete at Parkside, playing football, basketball and lacrosse
Two-way standout, playing both DB and RB
Two-year captain for both football and basketball teams
Two-time All-Conference honoree
Helped Parkside return to state playoffs for first time in 10 years during junior season
Racked up over 2,500 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns 

Players Mentioned:

#21 Justis Henley
DB
5' 11"
175 lbs
Sophomore

#11 Liam Trainer
LB
6' 2"
235 lbs
Redshirt Freshman

Fintan Brose
DL
6' 2"
290 lbs
Freshman

Patrick Shupp
OL
6' 3"
325 lbs
Freshman

Andrew Miklos
TE
6' 4"
235 lbs
Freshman

Deven Bollinger
QB
6' 5"
212 lbs
Freshman

Micah Pr'out
DB
6' 0"
160 lbs
Freshman

Nic Ware
DB
6' 0"
190 lbs
Freshman

RJ Macnamara
LB
6' 2"
222 lbs
Freshman

Dillon Trainer
LB
6' 1"
225 lbs
Freshman