With all the NLIs signed and delivered to the Villanova Athletic Office, Villanova Wildcats football fans can officially welcome 13 new scholarship players to the roster. We know of at least two preferred walk-ons, and there may be more bodies that join the program this fall.
Below we break down the commitments and hand out positional grades. The grades are based on both roster need and potential impact of the players, both short and long term.
With last season’s #1 ranked defense, it’s no surprise to see high marks across the board for that unit, even with the losses of Billy Crocker and Tony Trisciani to new jobs. The offense did well too - it is limited in numbers but has solid star power potential.
Villanova didn’t necessarily need a quarterback in this class - it’s one of the deepest positions on the roster - but it’s such an important role and they hit a home run with 3-star Kyle McCloskey who we can tell already bleeds blue and white. He was the first verbal and unquestioned leader of this class. He’s going to be a hit eventually.
Running Back: A-
Things looked shaky for a while when Chris Chukwuneke decommitted after being an early verbal to the ‘Cats.
(Chukwuneke has since reclassified to 2018)
It’s incredible then to see Coach Adams go out and land a talent like Damone Drew who had several FBS offers and is the highest rated player in the class. Look at how Aaron Forbes has turned out, and that’s what we envision for Drew. We would have maybe liked to see one more player here given the depth chart, but make no mistake Drew has star potential.
Tight End: N/A
The depth chart isn’t very deep, but given the scholarship limits it made sense to pass during this cycle. Simon Bingelis and Todd Summers are young and talented, and the ‘Ccats have breakout star Ryan Bell back for a final season.
Offensive Line: C-
Usually a position where the ‘Cats take multiple players, it’s a bit unusual to see preferred walk-on Paul Meduri as the only name here. Villanova’s depth chart is loaded with young players so there’s no reason to panic but given injury issues the past few years more depth is always good.
Defensive Line - B+
Losing starters Tanoh Kpassagnon and Bryan Osei is not ideal, but Villanova should have enough talent waiting in the wings to cope. It’s good to see they brought in a mix of players with upside (Malik Fisher) and those who might be able to contribute more immediately (Jared Nelson, Lorenzo Hernandez).
Linebacker - A+
We affectionately refer to ‘Nova as Linebacker U for a reason and the coaching staff didn’t dissapoint with the four players they brought in. All four of Trajan Anderson, Forrest Rhyne, Amin Black and Josh Patrick look like they could fill a role on day one. The only thing stopping them might be the talent in front of them. I wouldn’t write off at least one of these guys getting significant playing time next season, however.
Defensive Backfield - A
The tough part here is knowing where guys are going to slot in. Jaquan Amos and Darryl McDaniel are safeties through and through, while Jevon Jones could end up on the outside at cornerback. The defensive backfield is well-stocked, and these guys look like the next batch of stars ready to step in when guys like Rob Rolle and Rasaan Stewart move on.
Special Teams - B+
Collin Linden has just one season left so identifying Kevin Crabtree who has a long-snapping pedigree was extremely smart. Until proven otherwise (though Gerard Smith finished strong last year!) kicking is still an issue so we’ll see if any new faces show up this fall.