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In the FCS Huddle: Patriot League spring football notebook

11:50 AM, Feb 28, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's a shame Fordham has one more season of ineligibility in the Patriot League title race because the Rams could challenge for the league title.

It appears everybody has a realistic chance this year.

The PL might as well be renamed Parity League as defending champion Colgate and fellow stalwart Lehigh will likely fall back closer to the pack this season, with the rest of the teams taking a step up the ladder.

STORY LINES

With the league's first scholarship class in place (except at Georgetown, which doesn't offer them), expect to see more freshmen in the two-deeps. Redshirting freshmen is not allowed in the Parity League, er Patriot League, and coaches will play the best players, regardless of age.

Lehigh, coming off three straight seasons of at least 10 wins, faces the prospect of replacing nine of its 11 all-league performers. Second-team selections Nigel Muhammad, an outside linebacker, and junior Ned Daryoush, the left tackle, return to the lineup.

Holy Cross was hammered by injuries last year, but it gave opportunities to young players like nose tackle Mike Galantini and quarterbacks Steve Elder and Ryan Laughlin, who were solid by season's end. The Crusaders were 2-9, but six of the losses were by a touchdown or less.

OH, YES, THEM AGAIN

Bucknell hopes to do a Texas two-step in the league standings with Plano's Brandon Wesley, who will be the starting quarterback for a fourth straight season.

Colgate coach Dick Biddle can't sing enough praises of quarterback Gavin McCarney, the league's offensive player of the year. The Raiders, though, have suffered some big losses on the offensive line.

Speaking of quarterbacks, senior Isaiah Kempf (concussion) is hoping to get cleared medically after Georgetown used five quarterback last season.

Don't just hand the league's offensive player of the year award to McCarney again. Fordham running back Carlton Koonce (1,596 rushing yards, 48 receptions, 15 touchdowns) has been granted another season of eligibility.

BREAKOUT PERFORMERS

It's impossible for Colgate to replace Jordan McCord, the FCS' fifth-leading rusher last season. Sophomore-to-be John Wilkins hopes to step into the starting role.

If he cuts down on interceptions, Lafayette junior quarterback Zach Zweizig will put the Leopards in the league title race.

Nobody was coming out of Robert McCabe's shadow last season, but at Georgetown, Dustin Wharton has the tools to be among the league's top linebackers.

POSITION BATTLES

The Lehigh quarterback is always a high-profile position. Brandon Bialkowski, Matt McHale, Gerald Poutier and incoming freshman Nick Shafnisky are the candidates. None has thrown a varsity pass.

Lafayette returns nine linebackers to its 4-3 defense, and senior Mike Boles, who made 88 stops as the middle 'backer, appears to be the only one set with a starting position. Kasheem Hill, Tyler Robinson and Dion King all made starts at the strongside spot, while the weakside spot also is three-deep with incumbent Colton Kirkpatrick, Ben Aloi (coming off an ACL tear) and Chris Brockman.

SPRING PRACTICE DATES

Bucknell: March 22-April 20

Colgate: March 18-April 13

Fordham: March 20-April 26

Georgetown: March 20-April 20

Holy Cross: March 16-April 13

Lafayette: March 14-April 20

Lehigh: March 22-April 20

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