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 … Colgate.
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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Colgate (10-2 IN 2018)
Patriot League (Colgate finished 1st in 2018)
COACH: Dan Hunt – At School: 6th year (36-23) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 (Quarterfinals)
2018 OFFENSE: 27.0 ppg. (65th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 9.3 ppg. (1st in FCS)
KEY GAME: Sept. 21 vs. Maine: Maine is our preseason No. 4 team after reaching the semifinals last year. Although Colgate will be breaking in new starters and should get better and better as the season progresses, this is the type of game that tells us where the Raiders are in the landscape of the FCS nationally.
SUM IT UP: The 2018 season was a memorable one for Colgate: 10-2 record with those losses coming against FBS Army and eventual FCS national champs North Dakota State, another conference title, a playoff seed, defeating a James Madison team that went to back-to-back national title games in the second round and a trip to the quarterfinals.
Gone from that team are 25 seniors. Ten All-Conference players are gone. The Patriot League Offensive (RB James Holland) and Defensive (LB T.J. Holl) Players of the Year aren't coming back. But Colgate is out to prove that it isn't just a flash in the pan. And the amount of talent still on the roster shows this team is still the favorite to win the Patriot League and be a factor in the playoffs.
Eight All-Conference performers from 2018 return. And you have to start with First Team All-Patriot League QB Grant Breneman. While his 2018 stats may not wow you, he was solid as a sophomore with his arm and legs and expectations are for him to grow a ton heading into his junior year. He'll have offensive linemen like HERO Sports Preseason Third Team All-American Jack Badovinac and 2018 All-Patriot League Second Teamer Charlie Holsopple protecting him. The skilled position guys on offense stepping up is key, though. Holland rushed for 1,239 yards and 12 touchdowns last year while Breneman was second on the team with 307 yards and seven TDs. Malik Twyman looks to be the guy to step up after he ran for 292 yards and a score in 2018. The top four players in receiving yards also need to be replaced.
The Colgate defense was lights out last year, shutting down opponent after opponent and allowing just 9.3 points per game to rank No. 1 in the FCS. While the offense has a lot of production to replace, the defense has some studs at all three levels.
Nick Wheeler is a HERO Sports Preseason First Team All-American from his defensive end spot. Linebacker Nick Ioanilli was an All-Conference Second Team performer last year and Abu Daramy-Swaray is a 2018 All-American who impacts the game in the secondary and the punt return game. Kicker Chris Puzzi also is back and is a big-time reliable guy.
OUR TAKE: The star power is definitely there for the Raiders. But what remains to be seen is how the handful of new starters step into their role. Depth and solid play all across the board are what Colgate needs to develop this offseason. While this team is the favorite in the Patriot League heading into the season, the nonconference slate is going to tell us more about how good Colgate is nationally. Three CAA teams are scheduled, including a traditionally strong Villanova team and preseason No. 4 Maine. Add in FBS Air Force and a Dartmouth team that went 9-1 last year, and it's a daunting schedule. Don't be surprised to see Colgate in the playoffs once again. But it'll be a helluva accomplishment if the Raiders can match last year's win total.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./DL Nick Wheeler (HERO Sports Preseason First Team All-American, 9 sacks, 17 TFLs)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./OL Jack Badovinac (HERO Sports Preseason Third Team All-American); Jr./QB Grant Breneman (First Team AC, 126-204 for 1,605 yards, 6 TDs and 4 INT); Sr./K Chris Puzzi (First Team AC); Sr./DB Abu Daramy-Swaray (First Team AC, 3 INT, 203 PR yards and 1 TD); Sr./TE Nick Diaco (Second Team AC, 9 rec. for 114 yards); Sr./OL Charlie Holsopple (Second Team AC); Sr./LB Nick Ioanilli (Second Team AC, 56 tackles, 6 TFLs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./LB Brendan Ekwughalu (98th ranked 2019 FCS recruit that held 5 FBS offers)
THE QUOTE: "Obviously, (Grant Breneman is) mentally sharp. He was great in the pass game – we added some nice tweaks for him. And he's really taken off as a leader. He's everything you want your quarterback to be on and off the field. He makes good decisions with the football; he makes good decisions off the field. The sky's going to be the limit of what he can achieve." — Head Coach Dan Hunt said about his starting QB
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Colgate Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The Patriot League
Georgetown | Holy Cross | Lafayette | Lehigh
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast