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 … Delaware.
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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DELAWARE (7-5 IN 2018)
CAA (UD was Tied for 3rd in CAA in 2018)
COACH: Danny Rocco – At School: 3rd year (14-9 record), Overall: 14th year (104-51)
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 (first round loss to James Madison)
2018 OFFENSE: 24.4 ppg. (86th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 21.5 ppg. (19th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 23 – @ Villanova: Why this game? Well first of all, this is the "Battle of the Blue" and it will be the 53rd meeting (started in 1895) and there's a trophy involved. But more importantly? We're pretty darned sure Delaware's postseason hopes will once again come down to the final game. We'll go ahead and say this five months early — this matchup will determine playoff destinies for both Delaware and Villanova.
SUM IT UP: As a program, Delaware is back — and here's our explanation as to why: Even though this fall is one in which the Blue Hens need a ton of new stars to step up, we feel pretty confident this will happen based on recent recruiting hauls under head coach Danny Rocco and his staff. While some FCS programs go through cycles, we feel this is a program that has the ability to replenish annually and always be competitive. Even when it loses seven players to the NFL (yes, you read that correctly) including one of the highest drafted FCS products in years (2nd rounder Nasir Adderley). That's where Delaware football is right now, thanks to stellar recruiting efforts.
So let's dissect what we have here this year. First of all, Delaware has been competitive the past few seasons more because of its defense than its offense. The Blue Hens have been stingy for years. However, the offense may play a bigger role this year should Delaware be an FCS postseason factor in the CAA. Nearly the entire offensive line is back, as is 2,000-yard passer Pat Kehoe and HERO Sports Sophomore All-American Dejoun Lee at running back/kick returner. That's certainly something to build off of.
On the flip side, the defense actually looked really good in the spring, so there's always the chance they just pick up where they left off. Don't be surprised if defensive names like Kedrick Whitehead, Drew Nickles and Artis Hemmingway — just to name a few — become well-known in CAA circles by year's end.
OUR TAKE: In the first five games, only two games look like Delaware is expected to be in the "underdog" column — at Pitt and home vs. defending FCS national champion North Dakota State. The Blue Hens don't get highly ranked James Madison or Maine in the CAA slate, but do have daunting road trips to Elon, a loaded Towson team and always-tough Villanova. The home slate consists of New Hampshire, Richmond, Albany and Stony Brook — all teams Delaware can certainly hang with. Our prediction is seven wins and the Blue Hens being in the FCS playoff discussion as a fringe at-large team. That's not too shabby considering most consider this a "rebuilding" year. We won't bore you with the "this team reloads instead of rebuilds" line … but you get where we're going with this.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Jr./RB-KR Dejoun Lee (HERO Sports Sophomore All-American – 606 yards rushing, 2 TDs; 22.7 yards per kickoff return).
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./LB Colby Reeder (51 tackles, 4 TFLs); Sr./DL Caleb Ashworth (56 tackles, 3.5 TFLs); Jr./DL Frank Burton (27 tackles, 5 TFLs); Sr./DL Cam Kitchen (47 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 4 hurries); Jr./DB Nijuel Hill (2 INTs, 15 tackles); Sr./P Nick Pritchard (42 yards per punt); Sr./QB Pat Kehoe (2,075 yards passing, 17 TDs); Jr./OL David Kroll (returning starter left tackle); Sr./OL Mario Farinella (returning starter at center).
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./WR Jourdan Townsend (HERO Sports No. 33 overall recruit in 2019 signing class — reported Michigan State and Kansas State offers, among 8 FBS options).
THE QUOTE: "It's great to get out in front of our fans again and to bring so many people back to campus. You can feel the excitement and energy that everyone has for this University and this athletic department and it's just tremendous. I thought our defense played really well and had a good day. We have a lot of guys who don't have a ton of game experience so these opportunities are crucial to continuing our progress to where we want to be as a football program." — Head Coach Danny Rocco said during spring ball
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Delaware Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of CAA
Albany | Delaware | Elon | James Madison
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast