Amherst’s Kennedy expected to start at center

DURHAM – They took a hit or three on the offensive line.

Gone are Andrew Lauderdale, Tad McNeely, Curtis Nealer and Alexander Morrill.

All started for multiple years on the offensive line for the University of New Hampshire football team. Lauderdale, McNeely and Nealer helped the Wildcats to yet another FCS tournament berth and an 8-5 record last season, while an injury sidelined Morrill for the year.

Offensive line coach Alex Miller and the Wildcats have spent the offseason and spring rebuilding the unit, a process that will continue through the summer and into preseason camp come August.

They’ve got a couple of big returning starters – senior Will McInerny, a Bedford native, and junior Dayne Herron – along with co-captain and Amherst native Jake Kennedy to help the process along.

Herron has moved from right tackle to left tackle and McInerny is at right tackle on the depth chart for Saturday’s Blue-White Spring Game in Wildcat Stadium.

In between Herron and McInerny on the depth chart, senior Kennedy is penciled in at center, sophomore Nick Velte is at one guard spot and redshirt freshman Jack Carroll at the other.

“We’ve got a little bit of experience, but we don’t have that three-year starter or anything like that coming back,” Miller said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s one of those things with the offensive line: If you’re willing to put the work in it will come out the other side. But these guys have a lot of work to do ahead of them.”

Herron, McInerny and Kennedy bring the most size and experience to the group. McInerny, 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds, and Herron, 6-foot-4 and 307, started last season.

Kennedy, 6-foot-3 and 309 pounds, was named one of the team’s captains and has fit in nicely at center.

“The good thing for Jake is he had Mike Coccia and Tad McNeely, All American, All- Conference guys ahead of him, so he’s kind of seen how to practice and how to carry himself and the responsibility and the pressure we put on the center in our offense,” Miller said. “He’s done a pretty good job. He had a decent offseason and he’s been solid this spring That helps us that he’s come in and been kind of solid through the middle there.”