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 … Lafayette.
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:
Patriot League (Lafayette finished T4th in 2018)
COACH: John Garrett – At School: 3rd year (6-16) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2013 (First Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 13.0 ppg (124th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 29.4 ppg (72nd in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 16 vs. Colgate: This is a great measuring stick for Lafayette. Colgate looks to defend its conference championship and should be a solid team once again.
SUM IT UP: It's no secret what the main focus is for Lafayette this offseason. The offense was dead last in the FCS last year with 13 points per game. The good news is seven starters return on what was a young offense overall. So improvements are coming.
Sean O'Malley has started every game the last two years at quarterback and is back for his junior season. He should have improved protection up front with three offensive linemen returning with starting experience. Jake Marotti leads that group after a 2018 All-Conference First Team selection. A new top rusher is needed, but J.J. Younger has all the ability to take on a bigger role. This is an offense that needs more explosive plays. It had just 19 plays of 20 yards or more last year. A solid option on the outside is wide receiver Nick Pearson, who earned All-Conference Second Team honors in 2018.
The defense is the strength of this team, although some changes will be made on that side of the ball as new defensive coordinator Manny Rojas is moving to a 3-4 base defense.
Defensive lineman Malik Hamm is one of the top up-and-coming defensive players in the FCS and was a 2018 HERO Sports Freshman All-American along with the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Hamm was named the best player in the FCS to wear No. 99 on our 2019 FCS Kickoff Countdown. Strong safety Yasir Thomas is also a superb talent and was named to the All-Patriot League Second Team. Linebacker Major Jordan is the top tackler returning. He racked up 66 total tackles, which ranked third on the team.
OUR TAKE: The offensive struggles really, really hurt this team last year. If that unit can improve — and the number of returning starters suggests it can — it's going to help out the defense a ton and make this team more competitive. The defense was solid last year, but it can improve even more with the help of the offense, which held onto the ball for only 28 minutes per game last year. It's going to be a process for the Leopards to get to where they want to be. But the 2019 squad has a chance to take a step in the right direction and notch a couple more wins.
[divider]SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast
COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: So./DL Malik Hamm (2018 HERO Sports Freshman All-American, Conference Rookie of the Year, 15 TFLs and 8.5 sacks)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./OL Jake Marotti (All-Conference First Team); Sr./WR Nick Pearson (AC Second Team, 41 catches for 592 yards); Sr./DB Yasir Thomas (AC Second Team, 48 tackles and 7 PBUs); Jr./QB Sean O'Malley (QB1 last year, 1,741 yards passing with 4 TDs and 12 INT); Jr./LB Major Jordan (top returning tackler, 66 last year)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./WR Jordan Hull (No. 68 ranked FCS recruit in 2019)
THE QUOTE: "National Signing Day…What a great day for Lafayette football! After signing eight excellent student-athletes in December, we are pleased to add 15 more quality players to an already talented 2019 recruiting class. The group is a collection of hard-working, mentally-tough student-athletes who love football and are motivated to achieve academically. They are the 'right kind of guys' to help our team break through in 2019! Thank you to our coaches for all their hard work and dedication to constructing a recruiting class to will make us all proud on and off the field." — Head Coach John Garrett said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Lafayette Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast