Electrifying Playmakers

DeAndre Presley
Appalachian State
Sr. | QB | 5-11 | 180

In his first season as a full-time starter and in a tough role having to replace Armanti Edwards at quarterback for the Mountaineers, all Presley did was become only the fourth player in FCS history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season -- joining Edwards in the exclusive club. He also finished third in voting for the Walter Payton Award, became ASU’s sixth Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in seven seasons and led the Mountaineers to their record-tying sixth consecutive SoCon championship and the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Football Championship.

Nate Eachus
Colgate
Sr. | RB | 5-10 | 212

Key Notes:
• Led FCS in rushing with 170.1 yards per game
• Also led the nation with 12.0 ppg by scoring 21 TDs and rushing for 1,871 yards

Andrew Pierce
Delaware
So. | RB | 5-11 | 200

Key Notes:
• 2011 preseason CAA offensive player of the year
• Rushed for 1,655 yards and 14 TDs while averaging 5.0 yards per carry

Brad Sorensen
Southern Utah
Jr. | QB | 6-5 | 225

Key Notes:
• Finished fourth in nation with 23.7 completions per game
• Completed 261 of 390 passes for a school-record 3,163 yards

Casey Therriault
Jackson State
Sr. | QB | 6-3 | 205

Key Notes:
• Ranked second in FCS with 3,436 yards passing and third with 312.0 yards per game
• Also added 3,600 yards of total offense

Chris Summers
Liberty
Sr. | WR | 6-5 | 210

Key Notes:
• Finished with 15 touchdowns, which ranked second nationally
• Racked up 1,081 receiving yards, finishing fifth with 108.1 per game

 

In the Trenches

Ameet Pall
Wofford
Sr. | DL | 6-0 | 245

On the preseason watch list for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award, Pall finished second in the voting a year ago to mark the highest finish by a Wofford player. The senior finished eighth in the nation in sacks per game (0.96) and was also eighth in tackles for loss per game (1.73), while leading the Southern Conference in sacks with 12.5 and tackles for loss with 22.5. The 2011 SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year will look to move up the Terriers' record book as he sits third in school history in career sacks and fifth in career tackles for loss.

Mario Kurn
San Diego
Sr. | DE | 6-2 | 235

Key Notes:
• Led nation in quarterback sacks with 17.0
• Also added 27.0 TFLs which was second in the country last season

Renard Williams
Eastern Washington
Sr. | DT | 6-2 | 300

Key Notes:
• On the preseason Buck Buchanan Award Watch List
• Needs one FF to tie career school record (6)

Zack Nash
Sacramento State
Sr. | DE | 6-4 | 260

Key Notes:
• Finished fifth nationally with 13.0 sacks last season
• Ranks seventh in program history in TFLs after posting an impressive 16.5 in 2010

Gino Gradkowski
Delaware
Jr. | OL | 6-4 | 294

Key Notes:
• Named to 2011 preseason All-CAA team
• Helped Blue Hens to national title appearance and 19th-ranked offense 

Sanford Banks
Grambling
Jr. | OL | 6-4 | 319

Key Notes:
• Anchored offensive line that paved way for 15th-ranked rushing attack
• One of four returning starters on line

 

Defending Interests

A.J. Storms
Idaho State
Sr. | LB | 6-0 | 230

A team captain for the Bengals in 2010, Storms was one of the best defensive players in the nation. He played all 11 games at outside linebacker and led the nation in total tackles with 146, including 63 unassisted and 83 assisted tackles. Storms also recorded 10.0 tackles for loss and had three pass breakups. He was first-team All-Big Sky Conference and named to The Sport Network's FCS All-America second-team. Storms had double-digit tackles in all but three games, including a career-high of 20 tackles at Utah State and Montana. In the Bengals' highest profile game of 2010, he recorded 16 tackles at Georgia.

Torez Jones
Western Carolina
Sr. | DB | 6-0 | 175

Key Notes:
• Finished with a team-high seven INTs to tie for second in nation
• Recorded school record -- and SoCon-record tying -- four INTs in one game

Jordan Ridley
Butler
Sr. | LB | 6-0 | 220

Key Notes:
• Led the PFL and ranked seventh in FCS in tackles with 130 total including 9.5 TFLs
• Recorded 10 or more tackles in nine of Butler’s 11 games

Matt Evans
New Hampshire
Jr. | LB | 6-0 | 233

Key Notes:
• Ranked third in FCS with 156 tackles, the second-highest single-season total in UNH history
• Finished fourth in voting for Buck Buchanan Award

Tylor Brock
SE Missouri State
Jr. | S | 6-3 | 195

Key Notes:
• 2010 second-team All-American
• Led the OVC and tied for 16th in the nation with six interceptions
• Also led league with 174 INT return yards

Kadarron Anderson
Furman
Sr. | LB | 6-1 | 234

Key Notes:
• Two-time All-American, preseason 2011 All-American
• Ranked third in SoCon with 121 stops including 8.0 TFLs

 

The Special Ones

Gralyn Crawford
Stephen F. Austin
Jr. | PR/KOR | 5-11 | 175

Crawford made a name for himself in 2010 as one of the best kickoff return specialists in the nation. A third-team All-American selection last season, he returned 37 kicks for 1,038 yards (most in the nation) and three touchdowns while bringing back 23 punts for 183 yards and a score. The three kickoff return touchdowns tied for the most in the country. Against Albany, Crawford returned a kick 92 yards for a score, and returned three punts for 86 yards and one touchdown.

David Harrington
Idaho State
Sr. | P | 6-2 | 185

Key Notes:
• Led the nation with a 44.35 yard average on 69 punts in 2010
• Had an impressive 13 punts when he pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line

Shawn Abuhoff
Dartmouth
Sr. | PR | 5-11 | 190

Key Notes:
• Ranked third in the nation in punt return average at 17.22 yards per return
• Led the country with three punt returns for touchdowns

Jason Cunningham
Montana State
Sr. | PK | 6-1 | 180

Key Notes:
• Tied for most field goals in FCS with 20
• Hit 20 of 24 field-goal attempts, ranking among highest percentages in nation at .833

Matt Bevins
Liberty
Sr. | PK | 6-2 | 185

Key Notes:
• Became first kicker in Big South history to score 100 points in consecutive seasons
• Finished first in country with 1.82 field goals per game

Jeremy Caldwell
Eastern Kentucky
Sr. | KOR | 5-10 | 180

Key Notes:
• 2010 second-team All-American
• Ranked second nationally with 33.71 yard average on 14 kickoff returns, as teams kicked away from him

 

Keep an Eye on These Programs

Eastern Washington
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2010 stats):  Offense -- Bo Levi Mitchell (Sr., QB, 3,496 passing yards, 37 TDs). Defense -- Renard Williams (Sr., DL, 16.0 TFLs, 6.5 sacks).

Noting the Eagles: After its stunning comeback victory to win the FCS national championship, the hero returns for Eastern Washington. Bo Levi Mitchell was one of the most prolific passers in all of college football a year ago, and in order for the Eagles to repeat, he'll need to do it again. The Eagles averaged 397.07 total offense yards per game a year ago en route to the title, which was 22nd in the nation. Look for more of the same from EWU in 2011.

Appalachian State
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2010 stats):  Offense -- DeAndre Presley (Sr., QB, 3,670 total yards). Defense -- Justin Wray (Jr., LB, 73 tackles, 14.5 TFLs).

Noting the Mountaineers: The Mountaineers saw their 2010 season come to a disappointing end after entering the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs. Dual-threat QB DeAndre Presley was one of the best in the country, throwing for more than 2,000 yards and rushing for more than 1,000 yards. ASU will need to replace some key figures from last year's defense with leading tackler D.J. Smith gone, in addition to Mark LeGree, who led the team in interceptions.

Georgia Southern
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2010 stats):  Offense -- Jaybo Shaw (Sr., QB, 1,747 total yards). Defense -- Brent Russell (Jr., DT, 71 tackles, 18.5 TFLs, 8. 0 Sacks).

Noting the Eagles: Defending the triple-option is never easy, just ask the Eagles' opponents in 2010. Georgia Southern finished fourth in the nation in rushing with 261.2 yards per game and notching 40 touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Jaybo Shaw is back to lead the attack, a season after throwing only five touchdown passes but rushing for 16. The Eagles return all but three starters from last year's squad which reached the national semifinals.

William & Mary
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2010 stats):  Offense -- Jonathan Grimes (Sr., RB, 887 rushing yards, 8 TDs). Defense -- Dante Cook (Jr., LB, 111 tackles, 9.0 TFLs, 2 INTs).

Noting the Tribe: Playing in arguably the best conference in the nation, there's never an off week in the CAA. With 3,110 career rushing yards, running back Jonathan Grimes enters the 2011 season ranked second among all active FCS players and needs just 635 more yards to eclipse the school record of 3,744 established by Derek Fitzgerald. The Tribe will open the season with a tough test, stepping up to play FBS in-state foe Virginia.

Delaware
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2010 stats):  Offense --  Anthony Pierce (So., RB, 1,655 rushing yards, 14 TDs). Defense -- Paul Worrilow (Jr., LB, 113 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 2 FF, 2 FR).

Noting the Blue Hens: After falling one win short of a national championship last season, the Blue Hens return in 2011 with one of the best running backs in the nation leading the way in Anthony Pierce. Following a freshman season in which he burst onto the scene with 1,655 rushing yards, Pierce may be needed to shoulder an even heavier load now that quarterback Pat Devlin has graduated. Once again, the Blue Hens will have to weather a brutal CAA schedule to try and make it back to Frisco.

Top Contests
@ Sept. 24 -- No. 6 Montana State at No. 1 Eastern Washington -- The defending national champs face Montana the week before on the road and it gets no easier the week after as the Eagles face the Bobcats.
@ Oct. 1 -- No. 2 Appalachian State at No. 8 Wofford -- Mountaineers won 2010 meeting by 30 points, but that was in Boone.
@ Oct. 8 -- No. 4 William & Mary at No. 5 Delaware -- One of the top meetings on the CAA slate every year, the Tribe won last season's matchup 17-16 in what was one of the best games of the year.
@ Oct. 8 -- No. 13 Villanova at No. 10 New Hampshire -- UNH stunned Villanova in 2010 with a 31-24 in Philladelphia. Will the boys from Philly return the favor?
@ Oct. 29 -- No. 3 Georgia Southern at No. 2 Appalachian State -- Top two teams in the SoCon meet later in the year with plenty on the line, including FCS playoff seeding.

All photos courtesy of respective school athletic departments.