Head coach Mark Ferrante announced Wildcats recruiting class on Wednesday afternoon
Villanova opened the 2017 season with a 38-35 win at Lehigh's Goodman Stadium.
Villanova vs. Temple
Villanova defeated Richmond, 21-20, in its annual Homecoming game on November 14, 2015.
Villanova hosted James Madison during Parents' Weekend on campus on September 20, 2014.
Villanova defeated local rival Penn, 35-6, on September 28, 2013 at Villanova Stadium.
Ferrante will lead one of the nation's elite FCS programs after playing an instrumental role in the Wildcats rise to national prominence over the past three decades. He has been a part of the coaching staff for all 12 of the team's FCS playoff trips, including three national semifinal appearances and winning the 2009 national championship. Villanova has also won six conference titles, three Lambert Meadowlands Cups and three ECAC Team of the Year awards. Six of the Wildcats playoff appearances have come in the past nine years alone, and the team has been a mainstay in the national rankings for much of that recent span.
Others have taken note of the success that Ferrante has been a part of throughout his time on the Main Line. At the end of the 2015 season, he was named the FCS Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). This award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.
Those characteristics exemplify Ferrante's dedication to the complete student-athlete experience, evidence of which can be seen in the program's consistent academic success. The football team has earned public recognition awards from the NCAA in each of the last two years for ranking in the top 10 percent of FCS programs in academic performance measured by the multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR). In addition, a Villanova student-athlete has been named the CAA Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year four times in the past 10 years. More than 40 student-athletes from the Wildcats have been named to the CAA All-Academic Team in each of the past two academic years.
One of Ferrante's biggest success stories was coaching Jake Prus on the Villanova offensive line. Prus was identified as a bone marrow match for a patient in need at the start of his senior year in 2015, and took time out of the season to donate peripheral blood stem cells to the patient he was a match for. Prus excelled both on and off the field for the Wildcats, and was named the winner of the CAA Football Chuck Boone Leadership Award following the 2015 season. He was also selected as the league's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2015-16 academic year, and was a two-time Capital One Academic All-District selection.
As Andy Talley's right-hand man for so many years, Ferrante was involved in every facet of the Wildcats program. On the field, he coached the Villanova offensive line for the last 27 seasons and developed a unit that is traditionally one of the best in CAA Football. Over the years he has coached three All-Americans, 11 All-East performers and 15 first team all-conference selections.
Two of Ferrante's players went on to be NFL draft picks, including second-round selection Ben Ijalana by the Indianapolis Colts (2011) and seventh-round pick Brad Seaton by the Tennessee Titans (2017). Seaton was a second team CAA Football All-Conference selection in 2016, when the offensive line enabled Villanova to average 206.3 rushing yards and 378.7 yards of total offense per game. The Wildcats ranked third in CAA Football and 24th in the nation in rushing offense, in addition to ranking fourth in the league in total offense and fifth with a scoring average of 24.4 points per game.
Ijalana was an All-American in both 2009 and 2010, as well as being a three-time first team All-CAA selection during his collegiate career. Villanova reached the FCS playoffs in each of Ijalana's last three seasons on the team, winning the 2009 national title and advancing to the semifinal round a year later. The other All-Americans who Ferrante has mentored are Eamonn Allen (2001) and Bryan Russo (1989). Allen earned first team Associated Press All-America recognition in 2001 and was also a first team All-East and first team All-Atlantic 10 selection.
Villanova's offensive line has produced 17 all-conference performers in the last nine years, including six first team selections, five second team picks and six third team honorees in that span. In addition to Ijalana, the other first team selections are Brant Clouser (2010), Dan Shirey (2011) and Vince Kowalski (2014).
Ferrante was a standout collegiate player in his own right prior to joining the coaching ranks. He was the quarterback for Andy Talley at St. Lawrence University, where he was named a second team All-American in 1982 and also earned first team All-East honors. Ferrante directed the offense for a St. Lawrence team that went 10-1 during the 1982 season and reached the national semifinals in the playoffs.
Ferrante went on to join Talley's coaching staff at St. Lawrence, and spent one season as the running backs coach in in 1983. His other coaching stops before coming to Villanova include coaching the running backs at Wagner (1984) and Lafayette (1985-86).
Ferrante and his wife, Georgea, reside in Phoenixville, Pa. The couple have a 21-year-old son, Jimmy, who will begin his senior year at Villanova in the fall of 2017.