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Fordham Opens Spring Practice
Rams Begin Preparations for 2010 Season
The calendar says it’s spring so that means it’s time for spring football. Only problem is that no one seemed to have told Mother Nature it was springtime as the Rams took to Murphy Field for their first practice of the spring season on Friday.
Despite the cold and windy conditions, head coach Tom Masella led his squad through a spirited practice as the Rams experienced the first of 15 practice sessions allowed by the NCAA. The spring season will culminate with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, May 1st.
The team was able to don their helmets today and work out some of the kinks from the offseason and the new assistant coaches were able to see their new players in action.
The biggest question that will be addressed in camp concerns who will replace John Skelton, who set most of the school passing records over the past four years, as the team’s quarterback. While the question won’t be answered by the Spring Game there’s no shortage of choices for Masella and offensive coordinator Bryan Volk. Returning from 2009 is junior Doug Papy, along with sophomores James Avedesian, Benjamin Heiser and Ryan Higgins. They will be joined by junior college transfer Blake Wayne, who played at perennial high school powerhouse De LaSalle High School in California before spending last fall at Diablo Valley Community College in California. Last year he completed 84 of 146 passes for 1,520 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 619 yards and 14 scores.
The good news is that whoever is throwing the ball will have a group of experienced receivers to throw to. Fordham returns seven of its top eight receivers from 2009, led by All-American Jason Caldwell, who caught 79 passes for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns last year along with Stephen Skelton, John’s brother, who grabbed 63 passes for 634 yards and six scores. Joining Caldwell and Skelton as returning receivers with experience are David Moore, Patrick Miller, Brandon Anderson, Brad Pierre and Jason Weston.
In the backfield, the top two runners from last year return. Darryl Whiting and Xavier Martin, who combined to rush for over 1,200 yards last fall are joined by Jamir Livingston, Quasand Lewis and Hofstra transfer Carlton Koonce. They are joined by Nnamdi Onyeabor, Mark Harvey and Langston Lacroix.
On the line, three starters return to the lineup, led by center Jonathan Sheridan along with guard Lloyd Morrison and tackle Robert Kubacki. Other linemen looking to step into the starting lineup for 2010 include Connor Hartigan, Adnan Vandyck, Matthew Van Orden, Cahill Hooker, Andrew Milmore, John Hohlt, Derrick Bell-Harris, Wendell Joly, John LaSure, John Smalec, Darryl Robinson and Chris Watkins.
Defensively, the Rams return seven starters, including linebacker Nick Magiera, who led the 2009 squad in total tackles with 80. He will be joined at linebacker by Andre Delaire, Clifton Stuckey and Isaiah Leake, who were also in the starting lineup for most of last year. Among others who are looking to have a sold spring at linebacker are David Mendez, Nick Womack, Michael Hickman, Jock Payten, Will Quan, Jay Jackson, Chris Coratti, Gaetano Geminario, Paul Barchitta, Anthony Lubischer and Michael Martin.
On the defensive line, starters Andy Okonkwo and Jordan Bledsoe, who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks, are back as are Thomas Lloyd, Matthew Sconiers and Patrick McGee, who all saw extensive playing time last fall.
In the defensive backfield, Isa Abdul El-Quddus returns after starting at one corner last year while safeties Bryson Wilson and Jamal Haruna are also back. Joining them will be Robert Palmer, Kevin Carter, Ahmed Haruna, Zac Crosby, Dozie Onyeabor, Brendan Melanophy, Benjamin Daley and Khary Powell.
The Rams will open the 2010 season on Saturday, September 4th as they travel to Smithfield, R.I., to face the Bryant University Bulldogs. The home opener will occur the following week, Saturday, September 11th, as the University of Rhode Island comes to Jack Coffey Field.
By Patriot League Media Relations