Courtesy of the Colonial Athletic Association
BALTIMORE, Md. -- Villanova, which returns 17 starters from its 2009 NCAA Division I National Championship squad, is the overwhelming pick to win the CAA Football Championship in 2010 according to a vote of the leagueâ€™s 10 head coaches and media relations personnel. The results of the poll, along with the Preseason All-Conference squads, were officially announced during Wednesdayâ€™s CAA Football Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
Villanova senior wide receiver/returnman Matt Szczur and senior linebacker Terence Thomas headlined the 2010 CAA Football Preseason All-Conference squad as each were named Preseason Players of the Year. Thomas, who is one of the leagueâ€™s eight returning All-America honorees, led the Wildcats with 116 stops in 2009 and has yet to miss a start in his three-year career. Szczur, who recently signed a Major League Baseball contract with the Chicago Cubs, is slated to return to campus in early August to take part in preseason camp with the Wildcats. Szczur led the league in all-purpose yardage last season by averaging nearly 150 yards a game which helped him become CAA Footballâ€™s first-ever Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year in the same season.
Villanova, which had to defeat two CAA Football squads as well as Holy Cross and Big Sky Champion Montana to earn its first-ever National Championship in football, placed a total of seven on the Preseason All-Conference squad. Szczur was joined by quarterback Chris Whitney, placekicker Nick Yako and offensive linemen Brant Clouser and Ben Ijalana on the offense. Safety John Dempsey joined Thomas on the defensive side.
William and Mary, picked to finish second in the league race, placed four on the preseason list with running back Jonathan Grimes, offensive lineman Keith Hill, Jr., linebacker Jake Trantin and punter David Miller. New Hampshire, which earned two first-place votes and finished third in the overall voting, placed both defensive lineman Brian McNally and cornerback Dino Vasso on the preseason defensive squad. James Madison, the preseason No. 4 pick, was represented by offensive lineman Theo Sherman and defensive lineman Ronnell Brown on the preseason list.
Delaware picked up one first-place vote and finished fifth in the poll while placing safety Anthony Bratton on the preseason squad. Richmond, a defending CAA Football Champion from 2009, had seven on the preseason list and came in sixth in the preseason poll. The Spiders are represented by fullback Kendall Gaskins, wide receivers Tre Gray and Kevin Grayson, offensive lineman Drew Lachenmayer, defensive lineman Martin Parker, linebacker Eric McBride and cornerback Justin Rogers. Maine logged the seventh-place spot in the preseason poll, while Massachusetts and its three preseason honorees came in eighth. Northeastern transfer running back John Griffin, tight end Emil Igwenagu and linebacker Tyler Holmes make up the Minutemen contingent on the preseason roster.
Rhode Island finished at No. 9 in the preseason poll, while preseason honoree defensive lineman Yaky Ibia and Towson rounded out the leagueâ€™s preseason poll at No. 10.
CAA Footballâ€™s 2010 regular season is set to kick off Sept. 2 with four non-conference contests as Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island and Towson will all be in action. The first CAA Football league contest is later that same weekend when Massachusetts hosts William and Mary at 3:30 p.m., Sept. 4 on The Comcast Network and Comcast SportsNet New England.
CAA Football is blogging at caafootballblog.com...be sure to checkout the official blog of CAA Football to find all sorts of information that might not be at CAASports.com. CAA Football is also on Twitter...Fans from all 10 schools can get up-to-date information by following the league at twitter.com/The_CAAFootball. CAA Football will tweet throughout this offseason and continue into the 2010 fall season. The league is also active in the new media area and encourages fans to visit us on YouTube: youtube.com/CAAFootball. Logon now and subscribe to see the latest video productions from CAA Football.
2010 CAA FOOTBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (first-place votes)
1. Villanova (17)
2. William and Mary
3. New Hampshire (2)
4. James Madison
5. Delaware (1)
9. Rhode Island