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 … Duquesne.
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.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
- FCS Home
- FCS Preview Schedule – Team Links
- The HERO Sports Preseason Top 25 Poll
- Preseason All-American Teams
Duquesne (9-4 IN 2018)
NEC (Duquesne finished 1st in 2018)
COACH: Jerry Schmitt – At School: 15th year (92-62) Overall: 20th year (120-83)
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 (2nd Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 29.2 ppg. (49th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 27.9 ppg. (56th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 19 @ Sacred Heart: Both teams finished 5-1 in NEC play last year, but Duquesne got the auto-bid with a 28-24 head-to-head win at home. Now this game is on the road and unquestionably a big one if the Dukes want to repeat as conference champs.
SUM IT UP: Duquesne earned a ton of respect when it beat up on Towson on the road in the first round of the playoffs, 31-10. The next week didn't go as well with a 51-6 loss to eventual semifinalist South Dakota State, but the Dukes proved they're a team that can do some damage at the national level.
With 12 projected starters back — five on offense and seven on defense — this program wants to raise the bar once again.
The Dukes have a chance to be special on defense. Seven of the 11 top tacklers are back along with First Team All-NEC tackle Kam Carter and talented cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros. Linebacker Brett Zanotto and safety Spencer DeMedal led Duquesne in tackles last season and return in 2019.
There are a few more holes to fill offensively, though. But when you have HERO Sports Preseason First Team All-American running back A.J. Hines back, you're sitting good. Hines ran for more than 1,500 yards last year with 15 touchdowns. Daniel Parr is back as well at quarterback off a successful first year in the program after transferring from FAU. He led the NEC with 27 total touchdowns (20 passing, seven rushing). Parr needs to find a new top target with 1,000-yard receiver Nehari Crawford gone. Keep an eye on Kellon Taylor, a big 6-foot-5 target who had 44 catches for 576 yards and two touchdowns last year and who also plays on the basketball team.
The No. 1 concern for Duquesne is the offensive line. Just two starters return (Gabe Spurlock and Lyle Petrosky) while the Dukes lose a few multi-year starters, two of which were All-NEC performers. Hines is the active FCS leader in career rushing yards with 3,849 accompanied by 38 rushing TDs. He'll need a strong push up front if this offense wants to take another step forward.
OUR TAKE: Schmitt has 92 career wins at Duquesne, five away from tying the school record of 97. It's safe to say the Dukes are going to get him that record and then some. This program got a taste of what it can accomplish and the pieces are back to do it again. Now we just need to see how the new starters and depth fill in around those key pieces. Expect another tight title race in the NEC, but Duquesne has every right to remain the preseason favorite. And how about the nonconference slate? Duquesne can show how strong of a team it is early with road games at Youngstown State and New Hampshire, two teams from FCS power conferences who are hoping to return to the playoffs.
[divider]SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast
COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./RB A.J. Hines (HERO Sports Preseason First Team All-American, 1,520 rushing yards and 15 TDs last year)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DL Kam Carter (First Team All-Conference, 23 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks); Sr./LB Brett Zanotto (Second Team AC, Top tackler with 89); Sr./K, P Mitch Maczura (Second Team AC); Sr./QB Daniel Parr (2nd year in the program and as the starter, 2,447 yards passing, 20 TDs and 11 INT, 7 rushing TDs); Sr./WR Kellon Taylor (Top returning WR, 44 rec, 576 yards, 2 TDs); Jr./DB Spencer DeMedal (No. 2 tackler, 61 tackles, 6 PBUs); Sr./DB Leandro DeBrito (52 tackles, 7 PBUs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Jr./WR Dontay Mayfield (Transfer from UCF)
THE QUOTE: "On this second signing day of 2019 we welcome a group of student-athletes that enhance the quality of our recruiting class. The athletic ability, academic achievement and community service of these future Dukes parallel that of the recruits who signed in December. I am impressed with their work ethic and desire to help our team continue to compete at a high level." — Head Coach Jerry Schmitt said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Duquesne Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The NEC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast