Villanova Wildcats football welcomed sixteen new players to the program today - seventeen if you count Jackson Bradley as a reported preferred walk-on. The class represents a good mix of offense and defense and head coach Andy Talley was pleased with the haul, as the hard-work his staff put in was paid off.
"We are very excited to add these 16 young men to the Villanova Football family," said Talley. "I think that we have met all of our position needs in regards to the spots we had to fill. The thing that stands out about this group is the overall athleticism that this class possesses. We are looking forward to getting these 16 guys in the Villanova blue and white."
Adding sixteen players to the roster for next season, the Wildcats had a pretty great class overall it seems, and added a number of talented weapons who could find themselves making plays at Villanova Stadium over the next few years.
Talley noted, "I think this is as talented a group as we've recruited since I've been here."
Below is a breakdown of newest members of the Villanova program. After the chart, Brian and Chris give out their grades for each position and highlight a few players to pay close attention to.
|Simon Bingelis||TE||6'5"||225 lbs.||Brick, NJ||Brick HS||Unrated|
|Jackson Bradley*||QB||6'2"||195 lbs.||Jacksonville, FL||Bishop Kenny High||Unrated|
|Brandon Chadbourn||WR||6'1"||192 lbs.||Altoona, PA||Bishop Guilfoyle||2 Stars|
|Louie Csaszar||OL||6'4"||290 lbs.||Bethlehem, PA||Liberty HS||Unrated|
|Adeyemi Da Silva||QB||6'3"||192 lbs.||Edgewater, NJ||Palisades Park Leonia||2 Stars|
|Dage Davis||DB||5'11"||175 lbs||Waldorf, MD||Georgetown Prep||Unrated|
|Aaron Forbes||RB||5'10"||200 lbs.||Newburgh, NY||Newburgh Free Academy||2 Stars|
|Ethan Greenidge||OL||6'5"||320 lbs.||Flanders, NY||Riverhead HS||Unrated|
|Jafonta Johnson||DL||6'3"||235 lbs.||Syracuse, NY||Henninger HS||Unrated|
|Anthony Malaguti||LB||6'3"||235 lbs.||Hewitt, NJ||Don Bosco Prep||Unrated|
|Jarrett McClenton||RB/WR||5'9"||170 lbs.||Bensalem, PA||Archbishop Wood Catholic||2 Stars|
|D'Andre Pollard||RB||5'8"||180 lbs.||Bensalem, PA||Neshaminy High||Unrated|
|Datrell Reed||DE||6'3"||225 lbs.||Lakewood, NJ||Lakewood HS||Unrated|
|Keegan Sheedy||OL||6'5"||270 lbs.||Lancaster, PA||Lancaster Catholic||2 Stars|
|Drew Wiley||LB||6'2"||225 lbs.||Pennington, NJ||Hopewell Valley HS||2 Stars|
|Julian Williams||DB||6'3"||200 lbs.||Airmont, NY||Hun School||Unrated|
|Bryan White||DT||6'2"||285 lbs||West Chester, PA||Henderson||Unrated|
The addition of Adeyemi Da Silva gives Andy Talley two legitimate options when John Robertson graduates after his senior season. Da Silva will join Zach Bednarcyzk in what should be a fun battle in the summer/fall of 2016. Bonus points to the staff for identifying Jackson Bradley and getting him on board as a preferred walk-on. While he's not the exact type of quarterback the staff typically hunts, he's a good passer and should provide a nice insurance policy for the future.
It might be a little scary to think about what happens when Villanova doesn't have John Robertson anymore. Adeyemi Da Silva will compete with redshirt freshman Zach Bednarcyzk for the right to be the back-up and QB-in-waiting. Da Silva is another dual-threat guy who fits well in Villanova's spread option attack, and his high school highlight reels definitely impress.
Running Back -
Clearly the spot where the staff hit a home run. Jarrett McClenton and D'Andre Pollard are two of the most successful high school running backs in Pennsylvania, racking up tons of yards and touchdowns in their high school career. The two are good friends and plan to room together at Villanova - they should form a great one-two punch in Villanova's high-octane offense.
Aaron Forbes was a late addition, but an important one. He turned down an offer from the SEC to stick with Villanova and provides a different look than McClenton and Pollard. He has the makings of a workhorse back, much like Kevin Monangai.
Villanova's 2015 running back class is definitely going to get the most attention. All three of the incoming backs were highly successful, and have great measurables. With Kevin Monangai and Austin Medley out the door and Gary Underwood coming off of an injury having depth adding so much talent at this position is going to be huge for the Wildcats. You can never have too many playmakers, and all three have shown the potential to be that type of player.
Wide Receiver/Tight End -
Losing Poppy Livers is going to hurt, but Brandon Chadbourn looks like a future playmaker. He'll be transitioning positions (he played quarterback in high school) so it might take some time for him to make an impact. Tight end was in desperate need of depth and Simon Bingelis should provide just that. The Lithuania immigrant has only played organized football for three years, so there's a lot of upside here. This feels like an area where Villanova could have used a more college-ready player though.
While the running backs are getting the attention, Villanova's real steal in this recruiting class might have been Brandon Chadbourn. I can't look at his highlight reel without noticing how easily he seems to run through tackles, even in traffic. He has just enough speed and just enough strength as a runner to do some amazing things. The Wildcats will find ways to use this kid, especially if he adjusts quickly to his new position.
Adding depth at tight end is also very important. Ryan Morris may get the call to step up and "be the man" at tight end this season, but Simon Bingelis is a player with a lot of upside and will have time to develop over the next four-to-five years.
Offensive Line -
Always an important position, the staff did a great job bringing three players who all look like they will see the field during their career. Louis Csaszar is a big body but needs some work on his pass-protection skills. He likely projects on the interior of the line. Keegan Sheedy falls in to that camp too as he reportedly checks in around 270 pounds. Because of solid recruiting in past classes he'll be afforded the chance to mold himself in to a college player. Ethan Greenidge is a massive presence at 6'5" and 325 pounds and had some impressive offers to boot. Villanova has a rather large hole at right tackle currently - Greenidge may get the chance to compete for that starting spot in fall camp.
The offensive line is so key to running an offense that having quality size, talent and depth at the position is a priority in every recruiting class. A bad offensive line can make any quarterback look mediocre. Adding Louis Csaszar, Keegan Sheedy and Ethan Greenidge to the depth chart for next season means that the 'Cats have another three big bodies in the mix. Sheedy probably has the most work to do in the weight room, but all three would potentially have the size to step into the mix early in their careers if needed.
Defensive Line -
The need was much more on the interior of the line with the loss of Pat Williams, and the staff plugged it early with the commitment of Villanova legacy Bryan White. Because of the lack of depth on the inside, he should get the chance to earn some minutes if he's ready. Another body here would have been nice.
On the outside Jafonta Johnson and Datrell Reed both bring good pass-rushing skills, but are likely a bit too light right now to step in and play right away. No problem there though, as the 'Cats return everybody from last year's defensive end group.
How do you replace Pat Williams? His combination of size, skill and athleticism made him a key performer for the 'Cats the last two seasons. Brian White offers good size to play in the middle, however, and could be in competition for playing time immediately if he can use that size effectively -- but it took two years before Williams really emerged as a key piece on the defensive line.
Both Jafonta Johnson and Datrell Reed are both guys who will provide depth immediately, but will probably use the 2015 season to develop and add some bulk for the following season, when they will have to step up.
This is a little bit of a harsh rating, because both Drew Wiley and Anthony Malaguti look like they will absolutely make an impact at some point in their career. The problem is just that there is so much talent in front of them. Malaguti looks like a Don Cherry clone on his high school tape and Wiley's speed could see him operate in a hybrid role, much like Matt McCann does today.
Chris was definitely too harsh. Anthony Malaguti was one of the best linebackers in New Jersey and he will definitely find his way into a key role for the Wildcats eventually. He could definitely contribute immediately on special teams and might just work his way into the 'Cats rotation early on as well. Linebacker never looks like a desperate need on paper, but there were weeks last season that had Coach Talley lamenting his lack of depth there, so don't be surprised if these kids make an impact.
Defensive Backs -
Cornerback is a position that is young and talented, but Dage Davis looks like he could have some upside. He's got good ball skills from his time as a running back in high school and he'll get the chance to refine his skills before he's thrown in to the defensive mix. Julian Williams brings something that the Villanova secondary seriously lacks - size. At 6'3", he is exactly the safety net that Villanova needs over the top against some of the bigger wide receivers they face in the FCS.
We can talk a lot about whether these kids can become the elite cornerback that Villanova fans would have liked to see, but its still early on. The key every season is to make sure that the team adds a few bodies in the defensive secondary who can contribute, and the staff seems to have done that here. Dage Davis is definitely an interesting prospect who can bring some speed and ball skills to the picture and Julian Williams adds depth at the safety spots. Neither are expected to make waves in 2015, but the coaching staff always has a plan, and both have a lot of upside to develop.
Special Teams -
With Chris Gough out the door, Steve Weyler and Preston Seiler are the only two placekickers left on the roster. Given last year's nightmare, a kicker should have been a priority, even if it cost a staff a scholarship. At the very least, Talley needs to find a walk-on that can push Weyler and Seiler to a better performance next year.
Poppy Livers is gone from the punt return game, and the kick return could use an infusion of excitement (sorry, Joe Sarnese). Jarrett McClenton, Dage Davis and Brandon Chadbourn all look like they could be options here.
I don't see much point in rating a position that the Wildcats didn't add anyone at this year. Steve Weyler and Preston Seiler will battle in the offseason for the placekicking duties. The 'Cats do have a little depth here, and don't be surprised if a new walk-on face or two shows up on the roster to join the competition as well. It doesn't make sense to burn too many scholarships on the position, however. Weyler can still turn into the man at Villanova.
As for the return game, any of the skill position recruits Villanova added could pop up in one of those slots. Chadbourn definitely has some impressive highlights on kick returns, however, and I wouldn't be shocked if the coaches gave him a chance early on.
Instant Impact Player
Chris: My vote goes to Jarrett McClenton. I think that speed is going to be hard to keep off the field, whether it is on special teams, running the ball, or catching passes. Talley has to find a way to get the ball in his hands because he'll be a threat to go the distance every time.
Brian: My vote goes to Brandon Chadbourne. While he may have room to grow as a receiver as he moves to that position, he definitely brings some impressive football skills to the table. I think he will make the type of plays that force the coaching staff to give him touches early on.
Chris: I'll be keeping my eye on Anthony Malaguti. He comes from one of the best programs in the country in Don Bosco, so he won't need much refinement in technique or knowledge. 2016 will see Villanova lose three starting caliber players in Don Cherry, Dillon Lucas and Corey Majors. I expect Malaguti to step in and become the next great Wildcats linebacker.
Brian: There are a lot of guys in this class that I can see turning into key players before they're done on the Main Line. For the biggest upside though, I'm going to Adeyemi Da Silva. He's my pick to follow up John Robertson after this Fall season, and if he can learn the offense well enough this year, he could keep the machine going well into the future.
The 2015 Recruiting Class on a Map