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2018 Villanova Football preview: A look at the quarterbacks

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Counting down until the start of the 2018 season with a breakdown by position. First up, the quarterbacks.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Lafayette Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season is just around the corner, and in the mean time, we will be dissecting and previewing Villanova’s football roster--breaking it down by position. This will serve as a countdown and transition right into Villanova’s season opener on Sept. 1 vs. Temple.

Today, we begin with the quarterbacks.


Returnees

#14 Zach Bednarczyk (6-1, 200), RS Sr.
#9 Jack Schetelich (6-1, 200), RS So.
#16 J.J. Scarpello (6-2, 205) So.

Newcomers

#19 Qadir Ismail (6-7, 220) Fr. -- Bel Air, Md./John Carroll School

Departures

Kyle McCloskey (6-5, 210)
Jackson Bradley (6-2, 205)


Villanova was hit hard by the injury bug last season, and quarterbacks weren’t immune to it at all. Zach Bednarczyk faced an early end to the season, when he went down during a Week 5 showdown against Towson. Bednarczyk exited with a knee injury in the early stages of the 24-9 road win over the Tigers. Up until that point, he had been playing pretty well for the Wildcats.

Then in his third year as Villanova’s starting quarterback, he was off to a strong start to the season, building on the work he had done in previous seasons. Bednarczyk looked confident in the pocket and much more comfortable as a passer. He minimized mistakes and didn’t seem to be rushing his passes. As a result, he was on pace for his best season, statistically, before being injured. It was clear that he was producing at a much-higher level than he had previously shown. In just five games last season, Bednarczyk threw for 1,068 yards and six touchdowns. His throws were accurate and efficient, completing a touch above 70 percent of his passes. He didn’t have any interceptions. On the ground, he added 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Compared to his sophomore year numbers, he was averaging more passing yards per game and was able to increase his completion percentage by 10. Through 13 games as a second-year player, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,158 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. It seemed like he would have eclipsed those numbers as a junior.

For now, his coaches are impressed with the work he has been putting in during the offseason. With his knee now healthy, Bednarczyk appears to be ready to take his play to an even higher level.

”He did participate in the majority of spring practices,” said Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante during the team’s media day. “The only thing Zach didn’t do in the spring was the full 11-on-11 stuff, but he did all the 7-on-7. He did all the pass game stuff, individual drills, and his arm looks really strong to me right now. He is throwing some really good balls right now. He has had a really good camp.”

Fortunately for Bednarczyk, he will have one his favorite targets back, with tight end Ryan Bell--who can be a threat in the red zone--as well as a number of other athletic wide receivers.

After Bednarczyk is walk-on J.J. Scarpello and redshirt sophomore Jack Schetelich. Schetelich got an extended amount of playing time last season after Bednarczyk’s injury and was in competition with former Wildcat and Germantown Academy (Pa.) product Kyle McCloskey.

Schetelich embodied the old adage of “trial by fire” and had a tumultuous time in his first real season at quarterback, after being pushed into the starting role. He played in seven games, completing just 29-of-77 passes (37.7 completion percentage) for 366 yards. He had four touchdown passes, with six interceptions. When he started, he quarterbacked the ‘Cats to a 2-2 record. His main competitor for the position, McCloskey, posted similar numbers but has since transferred.

Shortly after the 2017 season ended, McCloskey left Villanova and his football career behind for a fresh start in basketball at Penn State, making Schetelich the primary backup behind Bednarczyk this year. Schetelich is a dual-threat quarterback, also running for 91 yards and four touchdowns.

Apart from the returnees, Villanova will welcome one new quarterback to the team, Qadir Ismail. A Maryland native and a standout at the John Carroll School (Md.), he is the son of Qadry “The Missile” Ismail, who played in the NFL for 10 years and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.

While he might have the build of a basketball player, make no mistake, Ismail is here to quarterback the team. Standing 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, he’s certainly a physical specimen under center. He prefers to stay in the pocket, but he is mobile enough to take off and scramble when needed. His strong arm and ability as a dual-threat quarterback makes him an ideal fit in the Wildcats’ system.

Ismail chose Villanova over the likes of other FCS schools, which included Lafayette, Maine, and New Hampshire.

These four quarterbacks will look to set the tone of Villanova’s offense this season.