Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Patriot League Offseason 2004

Only 3 months until opening day. It's about now when Lehigh Football fans start to get a little antsy. The recruiting classes are pretty much set. Spring practice has come and gone. In August camp will begin... so... what to do for these next few months?

Well, let's start right here by analyzing the incoming recruiting classes of all the Patriot League teams. In February and March, almost all the schools of the Patriot League announced their incoming recruiting classes. However, some transfers generally come in under the wire. Now that the incoming rosters are all set, let's grade all the offseason moves.

GEORGETOWN
Coaching changes: Loss of defensive coordinator Dan Rattay to Villanova. Loss of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to Akron. The new offensive coordinator is one-time Navy and Western Michigan coach Elliott Uzelac.

Key Graduation Losses: WR/KR Luke McArdle; QB Drew Crawford; OL Frank Terrazino; OL John Cummings.

Key member of incoming class: Transfer QB Nick Cangelosi was redshirted at UNC, and will compete with freshman QB Alondzo Turner for a starting spot right away, or Turner could possibly become a running back. Other than that, LFN's efforts to find more information about G'town's incoming class have been stymied.

Incoming Class Grade: Incomplete - impossible to judge due to the limited data available. Cangelosi, however, looks like a real find at QB. Will be interesting to see what he can do.

Spring Game: Try as I may, I could not find a single writeup on Georgetown's spring game.

Overall offseason: Defensive coordinator transferred to Villanova late in the game, which must leave G'town in a bit of disarray. G'town is still building the program, but an air of instability looms.

HOLY CROSS
Coaching Changes: Dan Allen was relieved of his duties as head coach after the Colgate game last year, and tragically he died due to complications of a chemical sensitivity syndrome a few months later. He is replaced by former Lehigh defensive coordinator Tom Gilmore, and a fresh new staff are now in place to attempt to rebuild the moribund Holy Cross football program.

Key Graduation Losses: WR/KR Ari Confessor; WR Nick Larsen; OL Steve Fox.

Key member of incoming class: Incoming RB Seun Bayone is a 3-sport star from Jesuit in Tampa, who gives the Crusaders a deeply needed injection of talent at that position. He could compete right away to be a starting RB or WR.

Incoming Class Grade: C. With so many need areas, it's hard to plug all the holes, but after a late start to recruiting, having only 3 OLs and 3 DBs are going to hurt in the long run. Seems overall like a light class.

Spring Game: Considering where it came from, Holy Cross' spring game could only show a team on the rise, which is true. A fine offensive performance by junior (and last year's starter) QB John O'Neill was just fine, but it exposed a less-than-ready first team offense.

Overall offseason: Tom Gilmore left Lehigh for a real ground-up rebuilding job. Considering the low state of the program, and the tragedy associated with it the past few years, the only direction is up... but it could be a 5-year plan.

LAFAYETTE
Coaching Changes: Added WR coach Brett Gordon, formerly the QB coach at Villanova. Added DL coach Antoine Smith, formerly the DL coach at Maine. Other than that, the Leopard staff is the same as last year.

Key Graduation Losses: QB Marko Glavic; WR John Weyrauch; DT Adam Allen; CB Matt Van Doren.

Key member of incoming class: RB Anthony D'Urso is an impressive-looking running back that excelled at West Essex HS in NJ, setting records for total yards and all-purpose yards. Looks like the plan may be to have him be the next Joe McCourt.

Incoming Class Grade: A. Tavani looked for speed, and it paid off. Also scored 2 kickers, OL and DL. Even got 2 local QB prospects. Overall, it has to be said, a nice class.

Spring Game: Everyone knew Joe McCourt will be the start back next year, so the only question is who will be handing him the ball. It looks like sophomore QB Brad Maurer is the man of the moment. Archie Fisher looks like he is emerging as Maurer's prime target as well. Special teams may be a concern.

Overall offseason: Lafayette has a big hole to fill at QB, but their recruiting class this year looks especially solid. Lehigh had better be taking a close look at what Tavani's been doing.

BUCKNELL
Coaching Changes: Offensive coordinator Alan Shields left Bucknell to take the head coaching position at Cal Poly. Promoted assistant coach Tim Camp to offensive coordinator.

Key Graduation Losses: WR Albert Marquart; DL Joe Behring; DL Dave Gibson; QB Ryan Colton.

Key member of incoming class: RB Kenny Davis transfers over from St. Mary's (CA) now-defunct program, where he got some time in the backfield there against some great scholarship competition. Should be a shoo-in eventually at RB in Landis' triple-option attack.

Incoming Class Grade: C+. 4 QBs, 4 RBs, 4 OL feature in this year's class, including a coup of rescuing some of the good players from St. Mary's. But Bucknell showed signs of a troubled defense late last year, and you have to question only getting 2 DBs in this year's class.

Spring Game: The offense dominated, but again the questions abound about the defense, with only one turnover on the afternoon.

Overall offseason: Bucknell proved they can stockpile plenty of offensive weapons for Tim Landis' offensive arsenal. But the defense is not showing that it has what it takes to compete against the good offenses of the PL.

FORDHAM
Coaching Changes: Head coach Dave Clawson left Fordham to coach at Richmond; offensive coordinator Ed Foley took over the reins and added 5 new assistant coaches to his staff.

Key Graduation Losses: QB Kevin Eakin; WR Javarus Dudley; RB Kirwin Watson; DL Adam Foley; TE Travis Johnson.

Key member of incoming class: ILB Ryan Kleve was a monstrous defensive player in West Geauga HS (Ohio), and he could be a nice find for the Rams in the interior defense.

Incoming Class Grade: B. Clawson's departure probably affected recuiting some, though Fordham got some very nice players in talent positions, notably QB. A little light in OL with only two selected.

Spring Game: With 3 major skill positions lost to graduation, the new-look offense sputtered, especially in the ground game. Looks like sophomore QB Patrick Mitchell may be the signal caller, with Donovan Boyd being the prime target. But Fordham's defense looks to be an especially strong unit.

Overall offseason: Tumultous, but Foley seems to have been the right candidate to right the ship. It will be interesting to see how the Fordham offense manages to rebound after losing so much talent - Foley will be tested.

COLGATE
Coaching Changes: After their great playoff run last year, Colgate's staff is largely intact. Colgate's is still trying to find someone to take the Athletic Director position, after being vacated last year. Several candidates turned down the offer already.

Key Graduation Losses: LB Tem Lukabu, TE Josh Freiser, WR J.B. Gerald, DT John Sabo, SS Sean McCune, OL Marc Scalifani

Key member of incoming class: DE Frank Viola (no relation to the former NY Met pitcher to my knowlege) is a big defensive lineman that could become a good starter in a year or two.

Incoming Class Grade: B+. Considering they were coming off a national championship run, and didn't get into recruiting until late in the game, they did extremely well. Only one QB. No real marquee-type player either.

Spring Game: Incomplete, since I couldn't find any information. But hey, do I need to tell you that QB Chris Brown and Payton award-winning RB Jamaal Branch are the starters?

Overall offseason: All Biddle needed to do is keep things together and not get slaughtered in recruiting, which seems to have happened. They are definitely the team to beat in the Patriot next year, and nothing this offseason has made me change my mind.

LEHIGH
Coaching Changes:: Defensive coordinator Tom Gilmore left to become the head coach at Holy Cross. Former SEMO defensive coordinator Shannon Morrison became the new defensive coordinator.

Key Graduation Losses: LB Tom McGeoy; QB Chad Schwenk; WR Dave Crockett; DE Mike Gregorek; DB Lawrence Williams; OL Oscar Guererro.

Key member of incoming class: QB Sedale Threatt is the son of the former NBA star and is a talented QB. Could convert to RB and possibly challenge for playing time.

Incoming Class Grade: B+. Nice class filled with big OL and DL, and speedy DBs. Got some good overall talent in QB and DL especially. A little light in the RBs.

Spring Game: QBs Kyle Keating and QB Mark Borda still vying for the top spot - it should be an interesting batting in August as to who the starter will be. RB Marques Thompson will be the first backup to RB Eric Rath. Impressive defensive "front seven" talent and depth.

Overall offseason: With all the defensive losses, it still looks like Lehigh will just be able to reload. Overall looks like a strong offseason so far. But is it enough to unseat Colgate?
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