Towson Football enters 2014 at number 3 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 13-3 (6-2) Colonial Athletic Association
The Tigers came as close to unseating North Dakota State as National Champion as any team in the last three years. They finished the regular season 10-2 with wins at FBS UConn, Stony Brook, and William & Mary, and losses to Villanova and Delaware.
In the FCS playoffs for just the second time ever, the Tigers got hot. After a bye in the first round, they ran through Fordham 48-28, went to Eastern Illinois where they beat Jimmy Garoppolo and the Panthers 49-39, and traveled to Cheney to take down Eastern Washington in the FCS Semifinals, 35-31. Then, North Dakota State. The Bison were the two-time reigning National Champions and were undefeated going into the game, and Towson was unable to continue their winning streak, or stop North Dakota State’s. The Bison won 35-7 for their third consecutive championship.
-Eric Pike LT – First team FCS All-American
-Randall Harris RT – First team All-CAA
-Doug Shaw C – Third team All-CAA
-Peter Athens QB – 256/397 (64.5%), 3,461 yards, 19 TDs, 13 INTs, 69 carries, 162 yards, 2 TDs
-Terrance West RB – First team FCS All-American, 413 carries, 2,568 yards, 41 TDs, 6.1 YPC
-Leon Kinnnard WR – Third team All-CAA, 43 receptions, 664 yards, 1 TD
-Drew Cheripko DE – 47 tackles, 6 sacks
-Telvion Clark LB – First team All-CAA, 145 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 3 FRs, 5 FFs, 5 pass defences
-Monte Gaddis LB – Second team All-CAA, 124 tackles, 8 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 pass defences
-Jordan Love CB – First team All-CAA, 64 tackles, 2 TFL, 10 pass defences
What to Watch For
Big Shoes – Running back Terrance West was the man. Named a first team All-American after the season, his 2,519 rushing yards were over 500 more than the second most prolific rusher in the FCS (Zach Zenner, South Dakota State, 2,015 yards). He scored 41 rushing TDs when no other player managed even 30 – for an average of 15.8 points per game. The player in second place in the points department, Damarcus James of Jacksonville State (11.6 points per game), was closer to the player in 39th place than he was to West. The Cleveland Browns made West 94th overall pick in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. Sophomore Darius Victor looks to be in line to replace the star running back, but head coach Rob Ambrose has yet to make it official.
In year one PTW (Post-Terrance West), Towson football will need time to figure out their new identity. In head coach Rob Ambrose’s first two years, TU went 3-19. Then, in 2011, West came aboard and set an FCS freshman single season record with 29 touchdowns, won Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year award, and led the Tigers to a 9-3 record and their first-ever FCS playoff berth. In West’s three years at Towson, the Tigers went 31-10 and made the FCS playoffs twice – a far cry from the 3-19 record of the two years prior.
This season, head coach Rob Ambrose will have an opportunity to prove to the fans he can do it without West. The Tigers lost some talented starters in addition to West: All-American lineman Eric Pike (and three other starting linemen), No. 1 WR Leon Kinnard, big-time CB Jordan Love, and starting quarterback Peter Athens. They did manage to retain much of their depth, and seven of eleven defensive starters, including All-CAA corner Tye Smith and the third leading sack-producer in the conference – Ryan Delaire. Overall, 14 of 28 starters (at least one game) moved on. Tiger fans should hope for and expect a CAA title, but there will be growing pains as the new starters acclimate.