Jamal Abdur-Rahman had the potential to be of the of the biggest playmakers in the CAA conference, and perhaps all of FCS football. The slot receiver-slash-tailback and kick returner returned to the field last Fall after a season on the sidelines to score two touchdowns in the 'Cats trip to Boston College.
In the season opener, he scored the game's opening touchdown on a fake punt that made it to the top of ESPN's top plays. In five games last season, Abdur-Rahman caught 18 balls for 225 yards, carried the rock 30 times for 186 yards and returned four kickoffs for 114 yards, along with two touchdowns. His season was cut short at the end of October by a torn meniscus in his right knee injury.
According to Terry Toohey's report, Abdur-Rahman was dismissed from the team for "conduct detrimental to the team," a vague term that alludes only to some off-the-field disciplinary matter. The talented athlete will finish his senior year as a student at Villanova, but will not play football. After the 2014 season, Abdur-Rahman will look to transfer and play elsewhere with his remaining eligibility.
The loss will put much more pressure on junior quarterback John Robertson, who totaled over 3,300 yards of offense last season. He will have a strong supporting cast, however, with experienced tailbacks Kevin Monangai and Austin Medley both offering some big-play ability. The running game will also have speedster Javon White taking some snaps, as well as Gary Underwood, who has shown off some good hands to catch passes out of the backfield.
The established receivers are mostly possession-type receivers like Kevin Gulyas and Mike Burke, but slot receiver Poppy Livers has been able to break off some bigger plays and understudy Aaron Wells has speed that can rival what Abdur-Rahman can offer.
The 'Cats may look to senior Clay Horne to fill in the role of big play-maker in the passing game, unless a younger player steps up into that role. Sophomore Lincoln Collins and freshman Taurus Phillips seem like the most likely younger players to fill that role, if they can earn a prominent role in the rotation this Summer.
Abdur-Rahman would have been a redshirt junior this Fall, after sitting out his true-sophomore season due to a previous disciplinary incident.
Two more out for the season; one transfers in
According to Philly.com, two more Villanova players are also out for the season. One player has left the university, while another will sit out the season with an injury.
Defensive lineman Pat McGown was a member of the 2012 recruiting class, but the Valencia, California native was not a major player for the unit in the last two seasons. He played for the 2011 State Champion Sierra Canyon School team and was a First Team All-CIF and First Team All-League selection as a high school senior. At Villanova, he redshirted during his freshman season, and at 6-5 and 250-pounds, was in the mix to compete for time at defensive end last year. The report did not state a reason, but he did not return to campus this year.
Sophomore defensive back Trey Johnson, out of Steinbrenner High School in Tampa, is the other athlete who will miss the 2014 season. Johnson has undergone labrum surgery that will keep him off of the turf this Fall. He had earned some playing time for the 'Cats last season, and would have likely taken on a bigger role this year if healthy.
The good news, is that tight end Ryan Morris has joined the program as a transfer from Purdue to bolster that position. The 6-3, 230-pound sophomore Morris is a native of Barnegat, N.J., was a reserve at tight end for the Boilermakers, but will likely see more playing time at Villanova, along with established starter Earnest Pettway and senior Morgan Craig.
According to Hammer and Rails, he was the number-20 tight end recruit in the country when he was picked up by Purdue. Like Pettway, he could be an ideal red zone target, with ideal size for the role, and will have less trouble getting off the line in the CAA, compared to the Big Ten.