In Mark Ferrante‘s first recruiting class, he has made a strong case that Villanova will continue to be a top contender in the FCS. On 247sports, Villanova is currently ranked 135th in the country. This is a bit of a drop from 122 just a few weeks ago, but it still shows that the Wildcats are heading in the right direction. Ferrante had 11 hard commits in the 2017 class, including three three-star athletes and five two-star athletes. Of them all, there are certainly a few that Villanova fans should keep an eye on. Here are the five Villanova commits to watch for.
Five Villanova Commits to Watch
Damone Drew is easily the highest profile player that Villanova was able to recruit in 2017. Drew is the 55th best running back in the 2017 class and 966th player in the country. He was receiving offers from smaller FBS teams, but decided to commit to Villanova to have a chance at the FCS Title. Drew’s speed is what made him so lucrative in the 2017 class. In high school track, Drew ran a 6.81 55m dash, 10.64 100m dash, and a 22.29 200m dash. At Villanova this season, he would currently be the 3rd fastest 200m runner.
The main transition for Drew will be that for the first time, he is not the feature back. Villanova’s spread rushing offense has proven that is it effective, but the committee of backs cannot get too confident and have to trust the system.
Like Drew, Trajan Anderson is also a three-star recruit who had FBS offers, but decided to commit to Villanova. The interior linebacker will likely be expected to fill the hole that Austin Calitro and T.J. White left after graduating this season. Anderson is already in solid shape for collegiate players, standing at 6’2″ and weighing 230 lbs. Anderson can use his speed to catch scrambling quarterbacks or to drop back and coverage and break up passes from receivers.
It will be a difficult task to replace holes left by Calitro and White, but Anderson could be able to do it. There is a reason that he was one of the Top 40 players in the state of Virginia, now he just needs to prove if Villanova was right in recruiting him.
The last three-star recruit that Villanova was able to bring in is pro-style quarterback Kyle McCloskey. McCloskey’s most notable offer came from Ohio, but he would not have likely gotten a chance to play if he committed there. McCloskey is known for his size. He stands at 6’4″ and weighs 220 lbs. However, this does not mean that he is not quick. His 40-yard dash time is still a surprising 4.73 and a 4.3 shuttle run.
McCloskey will have to take a backseat for a few years however. Zach Bednarczyk is only entering his junior year and unless he makes huge leaps and strides this year, he will likely return for his senior year. If McCloskey red-shirts one season and plays backup to Bednarczyk another, he will still be able to have three years where he will likely be the starter.
While he is only a two-star athlete, Julian Liaci could very easily work his way into a serious role in the Villanova offense. In 2016, Villanova only had three passes that went for over 50 yards, one of them being to running back Matt Gudzak. Liaci has proven his speed on and off the field. His 4.5 40-yard dash time along with his 7.2 60 m dash show that he will certainly be a downfield threat for the Wildcats. One weakness of his is that he is very small for a wide receiver. He is only 5’10” and 165 lbs. which will likely limit his effectiveness on short passes.
With two wide receivers and a tight end graduating, there will be more targets to go around in 2017. Liaci is the only wide receiver being brought in to Villanova this year, so he will not have much competition.
Like Anderson, Forrest Rhyne will also likely be fighting for a starting linebacker position in 2017. Rhyne is certainly a powerhouse. He benches 345 lbs., squats 500 lbs., and cleans 265 lbs. To go along with this, he runs a 4.75 40-yard dash. When someone is 6’2″ and 230 lbs., it is definitely impressive to run this fast. In both his junior and senior seasons, Rhyne was able to have 263 total tackles, six sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception. While Connecticut is not known for producing elite football talent, he was rated the 22nd best player in the state by 247sports in the 2017 class.
Rhyne certainly has the talent to be a starter his freshman year at Villanova. Especially with the losses of White and Calitro, Rhyne will certainly be able to find some playing time in 2017.