NEWBERRY — Newberry College head football coach Todd Knight and the Wolves are preparing for the 2015 season with great enthusiasm, as the scarlet and gray reported for fall camp on Aug. 12 and the first practice was held on the morning of Aug. 14.
The Wolves finished the 2014 campaign with a 5-6 overall record and a 3-4 South Atlantic Conference mark, which was good for a tie for fourth in the league. This seemed to be a disappointing season coming off of the 9-3 playoff season just a year before.
Newberry is predicted to finish third in the SAC this year behind Lenoir-Rhyne and Carson-Newman and will look to escalate that ranking with strong defensive performance.
The Wolves ranked No. 1 nationally in passing defense last year, but will have to make up for the loss of seventh round NFL draft pick Edmond Robinson.
The return of the entire defensive line will help in that goal. The front line will be led by preseason first team all-SAC selection Alstevis Squirewell (Great Falls) at the end position and preseason second team all-SAC pick Jalen Hunter (Seneca) at tackle.
The linebacking corps will be led by returning first team all-SAC member Taylor McDonnell (Bluffton) in the interior, while Nate Sichali (Anderson/T.L. Hanna) will be looked to for leadership on the outside.
The secondary graduated some key members, but preseason second team all-SAC safety Arnez Gray (Greenwood/Emerald) will anchor the backfield.
On the offense, a new starting quarterback will step behind center, as Raleigh Yeldell (Edgefield/Strom Thurmond) will be the lead field general. He accounted for four touchdowns on just 17 plays in the first quarter of the rout of Carson-Newman last year before exiting due to injury.
The running backs will be led by returning players Ryan Barnwell (Goose Creek/Stratford) and Romelo Doctor (Summerville/Ashley Ridge), who have both seen starting action over the past two years.
At receiver, Jalen Cook (Lexington) and Cole Watson (Conway) will expect to put up plenty of yards.
The offensive line will be another strength, as a large crew of starters return. Stephen Nance (Rock Hill/Northwestern) earned preseason first team all-SAC honors, while Hayden Wilks (Chesterfield) was a second team all-SAC pick in the preseason. Tight end Zach Edmunds (Springfield, Va.) earned second team preseason all-conference honors and should see significant time in both blocking and receiving roles.
Special teams should be another strength of the Wolves, especially in the punt phases. Kyle Clark (Beaufort) is a two-time all-conference honoree and returns for his senior season after leading the conference in punting average. He is also slated to be the top pick at kicker, but should face some competition. Long snapper Andrew Smith (Savannah, Ga.) was a second team preseason all-SAC pick as well.
Kevin Miller (Lexington) was the conference leader in punt return average in his first season with the Wolves, and with added experience, should be able to flip the field for Newberry on numerous attempts.
The schedule is – as always – a tough one for the scarlet and gray, starting with the opener at Florida Tech on September 5.
The home slate starts on Sept. 12, when the Wolves host Division I-FCS opponent Jacksonville. After North Greenville visits on Sept. 19, SAC play begins on Sept. 26 with the Family Weekend contest against Tusculum.
The annual Homecoming contest is on Oct. 10 against Mars Hill, followed by a conference game against Brevard on Oct. 24. The final home game takes place on Nov. 7 against Limestone.
Newberry travels to both of the teams picked ahead of the Wolves in the preseason poll, with trips to Lenoir-Rhyne (Oct. 31) and Carson-Newman (Oct. 17).
This release was provided by Newberry College.