College Sports Journal
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola and Georgetown senior linebacker Robert McCabe have been selected as the top returnees on each side of the ball entering the 2012 Patriot League football season, it was announced on Wednesday during the sport's Media Day at Green Pond Country Club.
Spadola, who made numerous All-America teams last year and is a candidate for the Walter Payton Award as the Most Outstanding Player in the Football Championship Subdivision, was chosen as the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. McCabe took home the League's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor.
For the first time, the Patriot League has also selected a preseason All-League Team consisting of 28 student-athletes. Lehigh led all schools with seven selections to the team, while Holy Cross followed with six. Georgetown had four selections, including two for senior Jeremy Moore who was named at both defensive back and as the return specialist. Bucknell, Fordham and Colgate had three players honored, while Lafayette notched a pair.
Voting for the individual awards and preseason All-League Team was conducted by the Patriot League's head coaches and football sports information directors, who could not vote for their own players. Both Spadola and McCabe were unanimous selections as preseason individual award winners by their peers. The group also voted on the Patriot League preseason poll.
Spadola caught 96 passes for a Patriot League-record 1,614 yards with 11 touchdowns last season for the Mountain Hawks, who won the Patriot League for the second year in a row and advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. Spadola's 1,614 yards were the eighth-highest single-season total in FCS history. He finished his junior season ranked second in the FCS in receiving yards per game and sixth nationally in receptions per game.
Spadola enters the 2012 season with career totals of 175 receptions, 2,760 yards and 20 touchdowns, putting him in range to finish among the top Patriot League wide receivers in each of the three categories. He has earned consecutive first-team All-Patriot League honors, and received All-America recognition in each of the past two years with numerous first-team nods following last season. McCabe tallied 134 total tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups last season for the Hoyas, who enjoyed their best season as a Patriot League member with an 8-3 overall record and a 3-2 League mark. He earned first-team All-Patriot League honors while leading the conference in tackles.
The preseason All-Patriot League offense consists of junior Gavin McCarney (Colgate) at quarterback, seniors Zach Barket (Lehigh) and Tyler Smith (Bucknell) at running back, junior Travis Friend (Bucknell) at fullback/H-back, senior Gerald Mistretta (Holy Cross) and junior Mark Ross (Lafayette) joining Spadola at wide receiver, senior Jamel Haggins (Lehigh) at tight end, seniors Ryan Risch (Colgate), Mike Vuono (Lehigh) and Sean Whited (Holy Cross), junior Andrew Scarmado (Colgate) and sophomore Mike Roland (Georgetown) on the offensive line, junior John Macomber (Holy Cross) as the placekicker and Moore (Georgetown) as the return specialist.
On the defense, seniors Sajjad Chagani (Lehigh), Rick Lyster (Lafayette), Jack Maliska (Holy Cross) and Nick Womack (Fordham) are on the line, seniors Mike Martin (Fordham) and Beau Traber (Bucknell) as well as junior Michael Tucker (Holy Cross) join McCabe at linebacker, seniors Tom Mannix (Holy Cross), Billy O'Brien (Lehigh) and Bryan Andrews (Lehigh) are in the defensive backfield along with Moore, and senior Patrick Murray (Fordham) is the squad's punter.
McCarney threw for 1,649 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 750 yards and nine scores last season for the Raiders. Barket ran for 706 yards and four scores and caught five touchdowns out of the backfield for the Mountain Hawks, while Smith started all 11 games for Bucknell and ran for 795 yards while scoring eight touchdowns. Friend started eight out of 11 games carrying the ball four times for seven yards and made 16 receptions for 100 yards out of the backfield. At wide receiver, Mistretta totaled 723 yards and six touchdowns last year, while Ross caught 49 passes for 703 yards and nine scores. Haggins caught 27 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Moore averaged 29.2 yards per kickoff return for the Hoyas, while Macomber was 12-of-15 on field goals last season.
Chagani (30 TT, 2 sacks), Lyster (42 TT, 3 sacks), Maliska (35 TT, 2 sacks) and Womack (27 TT, 3.5 sacks, 2 INT) headline a strong defensive line. Martin (94 TT, 1.5 sacks), Traber (63 TT, 11.5 TFL, 3 sacks) and Tucker (27 TT, 9 sacks) give the Patriot League a solid linebacking corps along with McCabe, while Moore (58 TT, 3 sacks, 4 INT), Mannix (87 TT, 1 INT), O'Brien (54 TT, 4 PBU) and Andrews (36 TT, 4 INT) all bring experience in the defensive backfield. Murray was among the nation's leaders with 44.1 yards per punt last season, and enters the year second in Patriot League history in career punting average. He earned multiple All-America honors for his performance in 2011.
The accomplished group includes nine first-team All-Patriot League selections from last year, including seven returning after making the first-team offense in 2011. An additional 12 players earned second-team All-Patriot League honors last year as 21 of the 28 preseason All-Patriot League selections overall are returning All-League honorees from 2011.
The Patriot League football season kicks off on Aug. 30 when Fordham plays host to Lock Haven and Holy Cross welcomes New Hampshire. Two days later, Lehigh opens the season at home against Monmouth while Colgate visits Albany and Georgetown pays a visit to Davidson. Lafayette heads to William & Mary and Bucknell visits Marist in season openers on Sept. 8, with the Leopards and Bison squaring off in the Patriot League opener in Lewisburg on Sept. 22 at Noon on CBS Sports Network.
Offensive Player of the Year: Ryan Spadola, Lehigh, Sr., WR
Defensive Player of the Year: Robert McCabe, Georgetown, Sr., LB
Pos. Name, School Yr.
QB Gavin McCarney, Colgate Jr.
RB Zach Barket, Lehigh Sr.
RB Tyler Smith, Bucknell Sr.
FB/HB Travis Friend, Bucknell Jr.
WR Gerald Mistretta, Holy Cross Sr.
WR Mark Ross, Lafayette Jr.
WR Ryan Spadola, Lehigh Sr.
TE Jamel Haggins, Lehigh Sr.
OL Ryan Risch, Colgate Sr.
OL Mike Roland, Georgetown So.
OL Andrew Scarmado, Colgate Jr.
OL Mike Vuono, Lehigh Sr.
OL Sean Whited, Holy Cross Sr.
RS Jeremy Moore, Georgetown Sr.
PK John Macomber, Holy Cross Jr.
Pos. Name, School Yr.
DL Sajjad Chagani, Lehigh Sr.
DL Rick Lyster, Lafayette Sr.
DL Jack Maliska, Holy Cross Sr.
DL Nick Womack, Fordham Sr.
LB Mike Martin, Fordham Sr.
LB Robert McCabe, Georgetown Sr.
LB Beau Traber, Bucknell Sr.
LB Michael Tucker, Holy Cross Jr.
DB Bryan Andrews, Lehigh Sr.
DB Jeremy Moore, Georgetown Sr.
DB Tom Mannix, Holy Cross Sr.
DB Billy O’Brien, Lehigh Sr.
P Patrick Murray, Fordham Sr.