HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Bryant.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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Bryant (6-5 IN 2018)
Northeast Conference (Bryant finished 5th in 2018)
COACH: Chris Merritt – At School: 1st year Overall: 1st year
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: None
2018 OFFENSE: 32.5 ppg. (T25th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 40.5 ppg. (113th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 16 – vs. Duquesne: Duquesne looks to be the team to beat in the NEC again. Bryant can cause a big shakeup in the standings late in the season with a win here.
SUM IT UP: Chris Merritt begins his college football head coaching career after spending 18 years as the head man at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida. He posted an overall record of 172-45 and sent over 100 players to the collegiate level, including current Bryant offensive linemen Kyle Mann and Robert Perez. He inherits a program coming off back-to-back 6-5 seasons after the Bulldogs were below .500 for a few years.
Bryant returns six starters on offense and six on defense. The Bulldogs have two quarterbacks, Broghean McGovern and Chris Hindle, on the roster that saw decent action in 2018 and also added Ohio State transfer Kory Curtis to the mix. Bryant loses its top rusher from last year but brings back its No. 1 receiver in Vincent Nisivoccia, who led the Bulldogs in all-purpose yards.
The big question is the defense after being toward the bottom of the FCS in points allowed. There's plenty of talent there to work with and Bryant gets a big boost with Derrick Leroy returning on the defensive line. He missed all of last year with an injury after playing in 11 games as a freshman. Tomas Wright set the school's single-season sacks record in 2018 with 12.5 and Jesse Nemerowicz is No. 8 all-time at Bryant with 225 career tackles. The program record is 285, a mark certainly attainable for Nemerowicz after he posted 73 tackles last year. He and Wright are back as that side of the ball is certainly being addressed this offseason.
OUR TAKE: Merritt is stepping into a pretty good situation. James Perry, who was the head coach the previous two seasons, took the same position at his alma mater Brown University. Merritt isn't taking over for someone who was let go because he wasn't doing his job well. He has momentum on his side. Ironically enough, Brown is part of a tough nonconference slate that includes Fordham and CAA members Stony Brook and Albany. That's a more difficult nonconference schedule than last year's before the Bulldogs went 2-4 in the NEC. The potential is there, as shown by Bryant's win against 2018 conference champ Duquesne. Expect Bryant to stay above .500 overall this year and to move up the NEC standings.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./DL Tomas Wright (First Team All-NEC, 12.5 sacks, 17.5 TFLs)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./LB Jesse Nemerowicz (73 tackles, 53 solo); Sr./WR Vincent Nisivoccia (50 rec, 691 yards, 1,353 AP yards); So./DL Derrick Leroy (Returning from injury); Jr./OL Mike Andrejco (Started all 11 games at LT); Sr./OL Andrew Jones (Has started 20 games in the last 2 years at center)
TOP NEWCOMER: Jr./QB Kory Curtis (Spent three semesters at Ohio State and was the scout team quarterback, threw for 5,400 yards and 59 touchdowns in HS)
THE QUOTE: "I'm extremely excited to hit the road recruiting and to begin work with these young men to develop a culture of success. It is my number one goal at Bryant University for every young man in our program to Expect to Win!" — Head Coach Chris Merritt said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Bryant Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The NEC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast