|« PVAMU Hires New Director Of Athletic Compliance||Lafayette Outing Short, but Sweet »|
A lot of questions for the Danes
UAlbany football looking to replace key players.
ALBANY – The University at Albany football team entered spring practice this month looking to replace its championship-winning quarterback, its all-time leading rusher and record-setting receiver.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for one of the Northeast Conference’s most successful programs.
“It’s the most questions we’ve had going into spring ball,” coach Bob Ford said. “I don’t think the cupboard’s bare, but at the same time, we asked around the table the other day, who has solidified a starting spot at this point?”
With that, Ford swiveled in this chair to look at his spring depth chart, a series of magnets with players’ names in different colors attached to his wall.
Ford estimated he has “question marks” at nine positions on offense and five on defense that his staff is trying to address during spring workouts, which began on April 5 and includes an intrasquad game on Saturday.
At quarterback, the Great Danes are looking for someone to step in for Vinny Esposito, who completed his career last fall after leading UAlbany to NEC titles in 2007 and 2008.
Sophomore-to-be Andrew Smith of Guilderland, who was Esposito’s backup, has been hampered by hamstring problems. He missed workouts on Friday and Saturday.
The other options are 6-5, 225-pound junior-to-be Dan Di Lella, who’s thrown four career passes, and 6-1, 175-pound sophomore-to-be Buddy Leathley, who’s never attempted a pass.
“Buddy Leathley has really had a great spring,” Ford said.
“Not a good spring, but a great spring.”
Meanwhile, Di Lella is bracing for the pressure of replacing Esposito.
“It’s tough,” Di Lella said. “Vinny obviously won a lot of conference championships. He was an efficient quarterback. But I got to learn the system for two or three years and see everything he did.”
The situation is just as unresolved at tailback, where UAlbany lost the program’s career leading rusher in David McCarty, who had 4,287 yards.
The team’s leading returning rusher is Smith with 379 yards, which is why Ford is considering moving the 6-2, 220-pounder from quarterback to tailback.
Also in the mix at running back are redshirt freshman Tramaine Wilson of Staten Island and true freshman Dillon Romaine, the 2008 Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, who entered UAlbany in January after graduating from Blair Academy a semester early.
UAlbany’s also looking for a No. 1 receiver because of the graduation of Tim Bush of Saratoga Springs, who had a program-record 147 receptions.
Ford is expecting a more balanced receiving corps led by 6-6, 210-pound senior Jason Poore of Hoosick Falls, who had 26 catches in 2009.
“If (the ball) comes to me, then it does, but we have other people who are stepping up to fill (Bush’s) shoes,” Poore said.
Ford acknowledges inexperienced UAlbany won’t be picked to win the NEC, which for the first time gets an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. He said he’d probably put his team fourth or lower.
“I think we’ve got enough talent, but it’s not proven talent,” Ford said.
A lot of questions for the Danes
By MARK SINGELAIS, The Albany Times-Union (NY)