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UNH football team picked for 3rd in conference
It won’t be long until the 50 or so players on the University of New Hampshire football team who have been in Durham in recent weeks running and lifting wrap up their optional summer workouts. Won’t be long before they turn around and report back on Aug. 9 for the start of fall camp.
And it won’t take the Wildcats long to see how they stack up against the teams — in preseason anyway — expected to be the class of the new-look Colonial Athletic Association this season.
“It’s nice that we got a couple of first-place votes,” said senior and co-captain Seamus O’Neill, the offensive lineman out of Manchester Central High School, from Baltimore on Wednesday. “But it doesn’t mean much until we go out and play games.”
Villanova received 11 first-place votes. Towson and New Hampshire each were first on three ballots. James Madison, fifth overall, was the top pick on four ballots. The rest of the poll, in order, was Delaware, Stony Brook, Maine, William & Mary, Albany and Rhode Island.
They are at Towson on Oct. 5 in their league opener, play Rhode Island at home on Oct. 12 and have Villanova at home on Oct. 19.
UNH lost to Towson at home, 64-35, in its final regular season game last November. The Wildcats fell, 56-42, in their next-to-last game of the regular season at Towson in 2012.
Then there’s Central Michigan and Colgate and the rest.
It won’t be long.
“You wake up Monday morning and look at the calendar and it’s the second to last week of July and it’s getting close,” said Sean McDonnell, who is entering his 15th year as UNH’s head coach. “Media Day is like ‘go-time.’ You see the guys in the league, the coaches, the players who are here and you start counting down the days.”
The Wildcats return O’Neill, the left tackle, to their offensive line and junior center Mike Coccia and right guard Rob Bowman are also back. Starters Chris Zarkoskie and Mickey DiLima have graduated, but McDonnell and his staff have a bunch of guys looking to fill in.
Sophomore George Kallas, redshirt freshman Alexander Morrill of Lebanon, redshirt freshman Tad McNeely and sophomore Austin Heter are also competing for spots.
O’Neill, Asam and junior wide receiver R.J. Harris were named to the CAA preseason All-Conference team. ... Towson junior running back Terrance West was named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year and James Madison senior linebacker Stephon Robertson was the Defensive Player of the Year. ... The top four teams in the preseason poll — Villanova, Towson, New Hampshire and Richmond — each earned a share of the CAA championship last year with matching 6-2 records.