We are officially one week away from kicking off the 2018 season with the Mayor’s Cup game at Lincoln Financial Field. We will continue dissecting and previewing Villanova’s football roster, breaking it down by position. After scouting out the quarterbacks and runningbacks, we will now gaze upon the receiving (and tight end) corps.
#5 Jarrett McClenton (5-7, 155) Sr., WR
#10 Adeyemi DaSilva (6-1, 205) Sr., WR
#37 Andrew Smith (6-1, 185) Sr., WR
#15 Brandon Chadbourn (6-0, 200) RS Jr., WR
#82 Zac Kerxton (5-10, 180) Jr., WR
#2 Changa Hodge (6-1, 190) Jr., WR
#26 Josh McGrigg (5-8, 175) RS So., WR
#27 Jevon Jones (6-2, 200) So., WR
#84 Robert Brady (5-10, 180) So., WR
#87 Tahj Powell (6-0, 170) So., WR
#23 Julian Liaci (5-8, 165) RS Fr., WR
#85 Ryan Bell (6-2, 235) RS Sr., TE
#81 Simon Bingelis (6-5, 250) RS Jr., TE
#86 Todd Summers (6-5, 235) RS So., TE
#89 Jack Boomer (6-3, 210) So., TE
Alex Padovani (6-2, 205) WR
Will Harris (6-1, 195) WR
Sam Shaud (5-10, 180) WR
Hayden Sernyak (6-3, 185) WR
#22 Dez Boykin (5-11, 185) WR — Whitehall, Pa./Whitehall
#40 Dan Cirino (6-0, 185) WR — Collegeville, Pa./Pope John Paul II
#80 Andrew Perez (6-3, 205) WR — North Caldwell, N.J./Seton Hall Prep
#83 Charlie Gilroy (6-5, 215) TE — Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy
#88 Colton Niedzielski (6-4, 225) TE — Worcester, Pa./Germantown Academy
This season might just be a redemption tour for Villanova receivers.
It was one of the groups that was hit the hardest by an unfortunate streak of injuries. Tight end Ryan Bell, who led the team in receiving touchdowns in 2016, went down early in the year. Recent graduate Alex Padovani also saw his season finish ahead of schedule. Changa Hodge suffered a season-ending injury in just the second game of the year. Adeyemi DaSilva and Julian Liaci were both ruled out before the 2017 season even began.
This year brings a fresh, new start. Now healthy, they will aim to revitalize the aerial attack and improve upon last year’s mark of 1,682 passing yards — which was only good for 10th in the CAA. It’ll certainly help having quarterback Zach Bednarczyk back in action as well. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship and season for Bednarczyk and his receivers — should they all stay healthy.
No one is to blame for last season, as a string of injuries impacted Villanova’s passing game. The Wildcats had a couple of inexperienced young quarterbacks play much bigger roles, and while Taurus Phillips played admirably in leading the receivers with team-highs in receptions (29), receiving yards (426), and touchdowns (6) — it was just one man trying to hold together a passing attack that normally relies on a variety of weapons.
Phillips has since graduated, but this year might be about the players that missed their chance to make an impact last season due to injury.
Bell was one of Bednarczyk’s favorite targets two seasons ago. The 6-foot-2 tight end enjoyed a breakout year where he thrived as a key target in the red zone and in goal line situations. Expect him to pick up from where he left off before he got injured.
Hodge is back with a new number, trading his old number 88 for No. 2. If he can address the questions surrounding his health, there’s no doubt that he can be a playmaker downfield for the ‘Cats. Hodge has the potential to be one of Villanova’s top receivers this year. He has great hands, speed, and leaping ability — a dangerous combination for opposing secondaries. He flashed that big play ability in the Temple game last year, when he caught four passes for 100 yards before sustaining a season-ending injury.
As for Liaci and DaSilva, it’ll be interesting to see what they can do. They will both likely be in the rotation. Liaci is a speedster and can really be a burner in the slot or as a deep threat. In his high school days, he showed off his speed and quickness, and how dangerous he can be if he gets the ball. He will finally get a chance to make his debut. In regards to DaSilva, we’ll get to see him line up as a wide receiver. He originally came to ‘Nova as a quarterback, but switched positions. He didn’t get to make any appearances yet as a wideout due to his injury, but it looks like this year will be his chance.
Other players to keep an eye out for—Simon Bingelis, Todd Summers, Brandon Chadbourn, Josh McGrigg, and Jarrett McClenton.
Bingelis and Summers are a pair of tight ends that can both catch the ball pretty well. While it’s uncertain how many targets they’ll get to see now that Bell is back, it’s reassuring to know that there are a few other tight ends that can be relied on for a catch. Bingelis had 135 receiving yards last season, and while Summers had less than half of that—Summers made his count, by making them mostly touchdown grabs.
As for Chadbourn, the redshirt junior took a step back last season, only earning three receptions for 31 yards for the whole year. However, if the season before that was indicative of anything, it’s that he has great hands and is a solid possession receiver if he can get the ball flying his way. Chadbourn looked solid in his first season after redshirting, and while last year was relatively quiet, he should get his opportunity this season to show it wasn’t a fluke.
Meanwhile, McGrigg mainly made an impact as a kick returner last season. He can fly and that speed is easily translatable to other areas of the game. Can he take a step up as a wide receiver?
Then there’s McClenton, who’s Villanova’s multi-faceted offensive weapon. Last season was a step back for McClenton, who can add a rushing and receiving threat for the ‘Cats. He only had 46 rushing yards off of 14 carries, and had 136 receiving yards from 12 receptions. His speed and versatility alone make him a valuable asset, but will this be the year he puts it altogether and leaves Villanova with a bang?