As fall schedules pop up all over the world-wide web, the anticipation of another football season continues to build. With nine Northeast Conference teams running through drills and preparing for the annual Spring Game on their respective campuses, Overtime! highlights what it sees as “The Best of The Best” for the 2011 campaign.
Although only 12 names are listed below, there will likely be a number of additional players who emerge as difference makers in 2011. In fact, at this time last April, Jordan Brown was a second-semester freshman running back with hopes of winning a starting spot. Twelve months later, Smith is the top returning rusher in the Northeast Conference.
Here’s who Overtime! sees as possible All-America candidates in 2011…
Shadrae King, Robert Morris (Sr., TE, 6-3, 225) – 2010 All-NEC First Team; 2010 AP All-America First Team
2010 Stats: 43 receptions, 531 receiving yards, 7 TD receptions
The 2010 All-American has the hands and feet of an elite receiver with the body frame of a bruising tight end. King quickly became the favorite target of starting QB Jeff Sinclair and made 43 catches for 531 yards, numbers that topped all NEC tight ends. His seven receiving touchdowns ranked second amongst all NEC receivers last season. King, who made five receptions for 68 yards in RMU’s 2010 NCAA FCS playoff game at North Dakota State, has logged at one catch in each of his last 19 games, a record-long streak for a RMU tight end.
Jordan Brown, Bryant (Jr., RB, 5-9, 185) – 2010 All-NEC First Team
2010 Stats: 268 rushes, 1,410 rush yards, 15 rush TDs, 1,896 all-purpose yards
Brown was the engine for the Northeast Conference’s top-ranked scoring offense (31.3 ppg). Stepping into a starting role following the graduation of all-NEC tailback Jerell Smith, Brown exploded for a league-high 1,410 yards over an 11-game schedule. The 5-foot-9 Brown, who averaged 5.3 ypc, scored a NEC-best 18 touchdowns as a sophomore, including a pair of punt return TDs.
Other Names You’ll A lot Hear This Year
Dillon Romain, Albany (So., TB, 5-11, 210) – 2010 NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year
Romain became more and more of a factor as the 2010 NEC schedule wore on. The 5-foot-11 tailback gained more than 100 all-purpose yards during each of his three November appearances as Albany closed the season as a winner of three straight.
Ron Dunn, Duquesne (Sr., OT, 6-6, 297) – 2010 All-NEC Second Team
Dunn has put his bookend tackle frame to good use, developing into an all-NEC player for the Dukes. He has made 31 consecutive starts on the O-line.
Logan Miles, Robert Morris (Sr., C, 6-3, 295) – 2010 All-NEC Second Team
Miles is the leading returnee from an offensive line that paved the way for the Colonials’ NEC Championship season. The 6-foot-3 Miles was the lone center to earn all-NEC recognition last year.
Gregory Ibe, Sacred Heart (So., RB, 5-9, 180)
Ibe showed flashes of brilliance as a red-shirt freshman. Splitting time with senior Marcel Archer, Ibe rushed 73 times for 5.7 yards per carry. He carried 11 times for 95 yards, including a 43-yard scoring scamper during Sacred Heart Red & White Spring Game on April 16.
Jose Gumbs, Monmouth (Sr., S, 5-11, 205) – 2010 All-NEC First Team
2010 Stats: 76 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1 INT, 8 PBUs, 2 FR
The hard-hitting Gumbs has projected pro potential at the cornerback position and has led Monmouth in tackles during each of the past two seasons. The former NEC Defensive Player of the Year (2009) is looking to add All-America honors as well as a NEC title to his already-decorated collegiate career.
Samad Wagstaff, Bryant (Sr., CB, 5-8, 165) – 2010 All-NEC Second Team
2010 Stats: 45 tackles, 4 INTs, 5 PBUs, 3 INT Ret TDs
Wagstaff plays much bigger than his 5-foot-8 frame. The lockdown defensive back made four interceptions in 2010, and returned three of them for touchdowns. Wagstaff has earned credit for 15 passes defended, including six INTs, in two years as a starter.
Other Names You’ll Hear A lot This Year
Nolan Nearhoof, Robert Morris (Jr., DL, 6-2, 280) – 2010 All-NEC First Team
Nearhoof became the third player in RMU history to be named an ESPN Academic All-American after posting team highs in sacks (5.5) and quarterback hurries (6) as a sophomore.
Julian Stanford, Wagner (Sr., LB, 6-2, 215) – 2010 All-NEC Second Team
Stanford, an outside linebacker, made 12.5 tackles for a loss and an NEC-high 7.0 sacks in 2010.
Charles Williams, Central Connecticut (Sr., DL, 6-2, 235) – 2010 All-NEC Second Team
Williams, a second team all-NEC selection in 2010, made 12.0 tackles for a loss in 11 games. His 6.0 sacks ranked third in the NEC.
Jakob DeMedal, Saint Francis (PA) (So., DB, 6-2, 190)
DeMedal saw significant time as a freshman in the Saint Francis (PA) secondary and proved worthy of the opportunity. He ended his rookie season with 63 tackles and a pair of interceptions, one of which came against the NEC’s all-time passing leader Dale Fink.