UNH, Knight start practice

Amherst native enters season as starting QB

DURHAM – Put that one in the books.

The University of New Hampshire football team hit Bremner Field early on a raw and chilly morning on March 28 – go time was 6:30 a.m. – to kick off its spring practice schedule.

“One down,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell afterwards. “It was pretty good. I thought we flew around. There was some really good energy.”

The NCAA allows 15 spring sessions, including a final scrimmage, and the Wildcats will practice most Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. UNH’s Blue-White scrimmage game is set for Saturday, April 29.

Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale at www.unhwildcats.com or by calling 603-862-4000.

The players were happy to get going Tuesday.

“It was awesome,” said junior Trevor Knight. “It’s a really long winter. The winter workouts, they make them fun so we get through it and I think everyone got a lot better. But it’s just so exciting and like relieving that we can be out here doing what we do now. This is way more fun.”

Knight returns as the starter at quarterback.

“Trevor Knight has to take the next step in the program to become the leader of the offense,” McDonnell said. “He’s got to continue to grow. I thought from the middle of the year and towards the end of the year he did a really good job of securing the football for us.”

Knight passed for 14 touchdowns and was intercepted 11 times last season. He also rushed for four scores.

“Athletically he’s exactly what we’re looking for at the quarterback position,” McDonnell said. “He’s got a very good arm, strong arm. It’s accurate when he’s in the pocket and relaxed. He’s very athletic on the perimeter running our quarterback run plays and he can make things happen.

The next step for him now is to make sure he can get the 10 other guys playing around him and still stay within himself and understand that the key to our offense as always is distributing to the people we need to distribute it to.”

One of the tasks for McDonnell and his coaching staff this spring and perhaps into fall camp is to settle on a backup for Knight.

Sophomore Ivan Niyomugabo and redshirt freshmen Christian Lupoli and Will Pollard are the other quarterbacks on the roster this spring.

“Ivan’s No. 2, Christian Lupoli’s No. 3 and Will Pollard’s No. 4 right now,” McDonnell said. “None of them in my mind are there to challenge like we’ve had in the past with Trevor. But, and the big but is, we need someone to come up and challenge him to take a step forward in that position. Ivan, Lupoli and Pollard are all going to get a good number of reps with the twos and ones at times, so it’s going to be a great opportunity for them.”

The top priority for the spring, McDonnell said, is to rebuild the offensive line that will be protecting the quarterbacks and opening holes for a talented group of runners that features seniors Trevon Bryant and Donald Goodrich and sophomore Evan Gray as well as senior Jerickson Fedrick.

The line lost essentially four starters to graduation in Andrew Lauderdale, Tad McNeely, Curtis Nealer along with Alexander Morrill, who missed all of last season with an injury.

“It’s huge that we find out who takes over for these guys,” McDonnell said.

Offensive line coach Alex Miller and the Wildcats will look to rebuild around returning starters senior Will McInerney and junior Dayne Herron. Senior Jake Kennedy is a leading candidate at center.

“The good thing is that we’ve got a lot of players,” McDonnell said. “The bad thing is that we don’t know what they can do because a lot of them haven’t played. It’s a position that’s been very good for us when we’ve been very good. This is something that we’ve really go to work on and get going.”

The Wildcats took the next step in the process March 28.

“It’s the first day,” McDonnell said after practice. “We haven’t thrown a football, caught a football in front of coaches since the JMU game. It’s a really hard thing to do to go from zero to 90 like that. But the great thing about it is we’re in pretty good shape. I thought the guys ran around. We got a lot of reps in. It was a good day.”

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