Villanova defeated Stony Brook, 35-6, in its season home opener on September 21, 2013.
Entering his 21st season as a member of the Wildcat coaching staff and 17th as the team’s Offensive Coordinator is Sam Venuto. The highly regarded Venuto is recognized as one of the top offensive coordinators in FCS Football. During the Venuto era, the Villanova offense routinely ranks high in both the CAA and NCAA in a number of offensive categories.
In addition to handling the Offensive Coordinator duties, Venuto also coaches the Villanova quarterbacks and is responsible for recruiting Central Pennsylvania. During his first four seasons on the Main Line, Venuto coached the Villanova wide receivers.
Last season, Venuto led the Villanova offense to 37.7 points per game, 470.4 yards of total offense per game and 242.9 rushing yards per contest. The Wildcats led the CAA in scoring offense and rushing yards per game and were 8th in the country in rushing yards per game and 12th in points per game.
Under Venuto’s tutelage last year, junior quarterback John Roberson won the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in FCS Football, in addition to being the CAA and ECAC Offensive Player of the Year. Robertson becomes the fifth player to earn conference player of the year honors under Venuto’s guidance. In 13 games a season ago, Robertson completed 197-of-301 (65.4%) for 2,846 yards with 35 touchdowns and just three interceptions to go with 227 carries for 1,078 yards and 11 scores.
Venuto has now helped lead three different players to the Walter Payton Award. In 2001, running back Brian Westbrook earned the Walter Payton Award as he amassed 2,823 yards of all-purpose offense in Venuto’s offensive scheme. As the team’s receiver coach in 1997, Venuto guided wideout Brian Finneran to numerous awards including ECAC Offensive Player of the Year, Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and the Walter Payton Award. Finneran tallied 96 receptions for a school-best 1,389 yards and a school-record 19 touchdowns as a senior en route to becoming the all-time leading receiver in Villanova school history.
In 2012, Venuto helped Robertson earn national recognition as he became just the fifth Wildcat in school history to rush for 1,000 yards when he ran for 1,021 yards and 14 scores. He also completed 152-of-253 for 1,965 yards and 14 touchdowns. For his efforts in 2012, Robertson won the Jerry Rice Award which is given to the top freshman in FCS Football. In addition, he earned the CAA and ECAC Offensive Rookie of the Year Awards and was a third team All-CAA honoree.
For his efforts in 2009, Venuto was named a finalist for the National Coordinator of the Year after his offense led the CAA in three different offensive categories, including scoring offense (30.8 ppg.), rushing offense (194.9 yards per game) and passing efficiency (149.9). During the 2009 campaign, Venuto led seven players to All-CAA distinction. The offensive headliners in 2009 were Matt Szczur who was named the CAA Offensive Player of the Year, and quarterback Chris Whitney who garnered first team All-Conference honors. With Robertson being a first team honoree last year, Venuto has now mentored four different signal callers to first team All-League distinction.
Venuto has a wealth of coaching experience. Before Villanova, he was the tight ends coach and the head junior varsity coach at Cornell University. From 1989-1993, Venuto was the passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Southern Illinois University. During the 1988 season, he was the assistant quarterback coach and receivers coach at the University of Illinois. Venuto spent three seasons (1985-87) as James Madison’s quarterbacks coach and one year (1984) as the linebackers coach at Colby College. His coaching career began in 1982, when he was the freshman offensive line and linebacker coach at his alma mater, the University of Delaware.
While at Delaware, Venuto was a linebacker for the Blue Hens and was a member of the 1979 National Championship team. Venuto owns a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Delaware and a Master’s Degree in Education from James Madison.
Venuto and his wife, Diane, reside in Collegeville, Pa. with their 19-year-old daughter Amanda, and 16-year-old son, Ricky. Amanda is currently a sophomore at the University of Delaware.