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 … Drake.
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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Drake (7-4 IN 2018)
Pioneer Football League (Drake finished 2nd in 2018)
COACH: Todd Stepsis – At School: 1st year Overall: 1st year
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: None
2018 OFFENSE: 29.6 ppg. (44th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 19.1 ppg. (9th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 2 @ San Diego: If a team wants to win a conference title, no doubt they'll have to go through San Diego.
SUM IT UP: Drake's momentum as a program doesn't look to be going away despite former head coach Rick Fox stepping down in December. Todd Stepsis takes the reins after serving as Drake's defensive coordinator the previous five seasons. Stepsis has an experienced offense returning with about eight starters coming back. The defense has a few more holes with four starters returning.
The big question is how 2,700-yard passer Grant Kraemer is replaced. The new QB has last year's top rusher Drew Lauer (538 yards rushing and 3 TDs) back along with the top three pass catchers: Steven Doran (55 catches, 949 yards, 12 TDs), Devin Cates (45 catches, 570 yards, 4 TDs) and Mitch McFarlane (31 catches, 346 yards, 5 TDs).
In the season finale against Iowa State, a narrow 27-24 loss mind you, the Bulldogs started three offensive linemen that are back.
While the defense has some new starters, it was a tremendous unit last year. What Stepsis has built on that side of the ball should continue. Will Warner is a special talent in the secondary and is a HERO Sports Preseason Second Team All-American. Defensive linemen Gavin Dineen and Erin Morgan are strong up front, but there are several new starters that need to develop in a hurry.
OUR TAKE: The Bulldogs went 6-2 in the PFL and pushed Iowa State, an FBS bowl participant, to the limit in the regular-season finale. One conference loss came by two points against Stetson and the other was a 27-10 loss to PFL champ San Diego. Drake avoids Stetson this year but does travel to San Diego along with tough nonconference road trips to playoff hopeful North Dakota and preseason No. 5 South Dakota State. If the Bulldogs can hit seven wins again, that's a helluva season. But it all comes down to where they finish in the Pioneer standings. This conference should be very competitive and expectations for this team should be to finish near the top of the standings once again with the hopes of holding that championship.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./DB Will Warner (HERO Sports Preseason Second Team All-American, 8 INT.)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DL Gavin Dineen (First Team All-Conference, 35 tackles, 5 TFLs, 3 sacks); Sr./DL Erin Morgan (Second Team AC, 20 tackles, 7 TFLs, 1 sack); Sr./OL Jacob Bacon (AC HM); Sr./WR Devin Cates (AC HM, 45 rec. for 570 yards and 4 TDs); Sr./P Ross Kennedy (AC HM); Sr./LB Zac Rujawitz (AC HM, 42 tackles); Sr./RB Drew Lauer (538 yards rushing and 3 TDs)
THE QUOTE: "I cannot express how excited, appreciative and honored I am to be the next head football coach at Drake University. I've been fortunate for 20 years to have a job that doesn't feel like work and these past five years have taken my love of coaching football and mentoring young men to a whole new level. Our student-athletes, coaches and University are so special and I can't wait to get back from break so we can get after it." — Head Coach Todd Stepsis said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Drake Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The PFL
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast