Villanova Chosen as Preseason CAA Favorites
July 24, 2013
BALTIMORE, Md. - The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) held its annual football media day on Wednesday, July 24, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Villanova was picked to win the CAA championship, while six Wildcat standouts were named to the preseason All-CAA team.
Villanova garnered 11 of 22 first place votes to earn the top spot in the preseason predicted order of finish. Towson was picked to finish second followed by New Hampshire, Richmond and James Madison.
"I kind of like having the distinction of being the favorite," head coach Andy Talley said. "After we won a national championship in 2009 we were picked first in 2010 and fell off a little bit, but we came back and finished strong that season. Having been through that once already I think we can enjoy where we are now."
The six Villanova players named to the preseason All-Conference team include sophomore quarterback John Robertson, junior running back Kevin Monangai, senior offensive lineman Josh Bucci, senior defensive tackle Rakim Cox, senior nose guard Antoine Lewis and senior punter Mark Hamilton.
As a redshirt freshman last year, Robertson earned the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football, in addition to winning both the CAA and ECAC Offensive Rookie of the Year Awards. He was also named third team All-CAA. Robertson started 11 of 12 games a season ago and completed 152-of-253 for 1,965 yards and 14 touchdowns to go with 189 carries for 1,021 yards and 14 rushing scores.
"John is a big reason for our success last year," Talley said. "He is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. It will be hard for him to match the season that he had last year but he has a better team around him and a better offensive line."
Monangai led the CAA in rushing last year with 1,210 yards on 212 carries (5.7 avg.) and 11 touchdowns. He also registered five 100-yard rushing games in 2012, including a career-high 192 yards against Maine. For his efforts last year, Monangai was a first team All-CAA selection.
"Kevin is a great running back," Talley said. "He is very strong and can get out of trouble too. He is a special player."
Bucci has started 33 consecutive games for the Wildcats, including all 12 last year en route to being named second team All-CAA. As a junior last season, Bucci helped anchor a Villanova offensive line that was instrumental in the Wildcats leading the CAA in rushing with an average of 252.8 yards per game.
A three-year starter, Cox has blossomed into a playmaker on the Villanova defensive line. Last year he led the team with 5.5 quarterback sacks, while amassing 24 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, four pass break-ups and a blocked kick. He was rewarded for his season a year ago by being named first team All-CAA.
The 6-2, 290 pound Lewis was a first team All-CAA selection last year after starting all 12 games and tallying 58 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. This was the second time in his career that he earned All-CAA accolades. As a sophomore in 2010, he was named third team All-Conference. Earlier this summer, he was named a preseason All-American by the Sports Network and he was named to the Buck Buchanan preseason watch list.
Hamilton returns for his third season as the team's punter in 2013. Last year, he averaged 41.5 yards per punt, placing 19 of his 53 punts inside the 20-yard line. He also tallied eight punts of 50 yards or longer. Hamilton also serves as Villanova's place kicker. In his career, he is 25-of-33 in field goal attempts and 87-of-89 in PATs.
Villanova will start the season on August 31 with a game at Boston College. Kickoff is scheduled for noon in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
"We have a saying on our league coin that says 'Conference of Champions' and the CAA certainly is that," Commissioner Tom Yeager said. "Every team approaches the season with that attitude and this league has a special group of coaches who are tremendous leaders and bring credibility to their universities."
2013 CAA FOOTBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Villanova (11)