Football camp fast approaching

DURHAM – It won’t be long now.

Members of the University of New Hampshire football report for preseason camp in 18 days.

The 2017 season begins in dramatic fashion seven weeks from today with a “Thursday Night Throwdown” 7 p.m. game on Aug. 31 against archrival Maine to open UNH’s second season in Wildcat Stadium.

There is plenty of work to be done before the first kickoff.

The Wildcats report for camp on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Conditioning tests and the first practice are set for that Wednesday and UNH’s Media Day is Thursday, Aug. 3.

Many players came back to campus this week for a few weeks of optional workouts leading up to camp.

“They’ve been gone about four or five weeks,” Sean McDonnell, who is entering his 19th season as head coach of the Wildcats, said. “It’s good for them to go, recharge the batteries. And it’s good for them to come back and get going.”

A couple of the tasks in camp, leading up to the opener, are to continue building an offensive line and settling on a quarterback to back up junior starter Trevor Knight, an Amherst native.

Senior tackle Will McInerny, a Bedford High School graduate, and senior center Jake Kennedy, a Souhegan graduate, with junior tackle Dayne Herron have the most experience of the linemen and are leading candidates for starting jobs.

“They’re the three guys that have solidified their spots to have an opportunity to be in the first group when camp starts,” McDonnell said. “But those guys aren’t guaranteed anything. It’s who’s going to be the best five by the time we get done with it.”

McInerny is 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds, Herron 6-foot-4 and 307 and Kennedy 6-foot-3 and 309.

Kennedy is a team captain along with running back Trevon Bryant, who is expected to sit out the season as he recuperates from a knee injury. Running back Donald Goodrich and defensive back D’Andre

Drummond-Mayrie are also captains.

Sophomore Nick Velte and redshirt freshman Jack Carroll, who was moved over from the defensive line, are among the contenders for jobs on the offensive line. So, too, are players such as redshirt freshman Matt Mascia and sophomores Noah Robison, Jeff Carter, Mike McGuinness and Clayton Jimerson.

Knight returns as the starter at quarterback. He threw for 14 touchdowns last year and ran for four.

Sophomore Ivan Niyomugabo and redshirt freshmen Christian Lupoli and Will Pollard will continue to compete for the backup job.

“It’s very tight,” McDonnell said. “All three kids have a shot. Lupoli and Ivan have the most knowledge right now. Will Pollard did a nice job during the spring. Trevor’s the starter. I thought Lupoli at the end of spring ball did some good things. I thought he did very, very well in the spring game. You’ve still got 20-something practices to get ready for Maine so we’ll see how that goes.”

The Wildcats finished 8-5 overall last season and were 6-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. They have qualified for the NCAA FCS tournament in each of the last 13 seasons, which is the longest such streak in the nation.