May 2, 2015

UNH's Harris, Spears and Coccia land in NFL

Roger Brown

Three former University of New Hampshire football players who were not selected in this year's NFL draft signed free agent contacts following the draft.

Wide receiver R.J. Harris and tight end Harold Spears each signed with the New Orleans Saints, and center Mike Coccia signed with the Philadelphis Eagles.

"Obviously I wanted to be drafted, but now our situation is the same as anyone who was drafted: Prove that we belong," Harris said. "Coming from a small school I already had a chip on my shoulder. Going undrafted, now I have an even bigger chip."

Spears and Harris each worked out for a handful of teams, including the Saints, at a private workout two days before UNH's Pro Day at the SportsPlex in Bedford. 

Coccia said NFL teams began to show significant interest in him following UNH's Pro Day. Ryan Myers, Philadelphia's Northeast Area Scout, was among those who attended UNH's Pro Day.

Coccia said he was also contacted by the Browns, Cardinals, Falcons and Raiders following the draft.

"I believe my primary position is going to be center, but the Eagles and all the NFL teams told me I'll have to play guard as well," Coccia said. "Philadelphia's offense is the style I want to play for. The blocking schemes are similar to what we ran at UNH. I felt like the Eagles would be the easiest transition."

May 1, 2015

UNH has few secondary concerns

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

UNH logo.jpg

University of New Hampshire football coach Sean McDonnell likes the talent in his team's secondary. Likes the depth of the talent, too.

"I think we're as solid as we've ever been in the secondary," McDonnell said. "The back half of the defense is probably the strength of the team right now. That and the quarterback position."

Sean Goldrich, who will be a senior in the fall, mans the quarterback position for the Wildcats, who wrap up Spring Football with their annual Blue-White game in Cowell Stadium on Saturday at noon.

A group of veterans hold down spots in the secondary at the safety spots and cornerback.

Daniel Rowe and Hayden Knudson are likely to start at two of the safety spots and Keith Parkinson and Lamar Edmonds are battling for the other starting position.

"You've got four seniors back there who are pretty good and have played a lot of football for us in Knudson, Edmonds, Parkinson and Rowe," McDonnell said.

Rowe was third on the team with 70 tackles last season.

Casey DeAndrade, who started each of his first two years, will play cornerback opposite sophomore Patrick Mensah. DeAndrade had three fumble recoveries and an interception last season.

DeAndrade has been on the sidelines during the spring as he rehabs from a knee injury and surgery. His loss has allowed other cornerback candidates to get additional reps in practice.

Senior Dougie Moss and sophomore Marquis Carr are likely to back up Mensah and DeAndrade.

"We have a number of guys who have pretty good experience back there," said defensive coordinator John Lyons, who works with the cornerbacks. "We don't have Casey right now and it will be good to get everybody back and healthy. I think it is a strength. We just have to keep getting better."

Lyons has been pleased with the spring Knudson and Edmonds have had.

"I think Knudson's played well for us," Lyons said. "Lamar's done a good job, too. Pat Mensah's been the best corner over the course of the spring. He's long and he's athletic. He just has to become more consistent with his technique. He's done some good things."

D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who played last season as a true freshman, and sophomore Geno Miller will see time at safety, too.

Safeties and cornerbacks had 10 of UNH's 14 interceptions last season. Parkinson led the team with three picks, Moss had a couple and the other returning players with an interception last year were DeAndrade and Mensah with one each. DeAndrade has been productive from the get-go with the Wildcats.

As a redshirt freshman, he led the Colonial Athletic Association and was second in the nation in pass breakups with 20 to go along with his three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

DeAndrade earned a couple of CAA First-Team All-Conference honors last fall. He had 13 pass breakups and for the second straight season had 69 total tackles. That number was fourth best on the team each year. DeAndrade also picked up First-Team honors as a punt returner. He led the league with a 9.1-yard per return average.

Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter:@UNHInsider

Field full for Under Armour 7v7 at Exeter

The 40-team field for the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 North Regional has been filled. Teams can still register to be placed on a waiting list in the event a spot opens.

This year's North Regional will be held July 18 (10 a.m.) at Exeter High School. Exeter is one of three sites for the tournament. There will be 40 teams competing at each site.

Each team is guaranteed a minimum of four games in round-robin play. The top two teams from each five-team pool will advance to the single-elimination portion of the tournament. The finalists at each location will move on to the New England Championship.

The tournament's other locations:

SOUTH: Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, Mass. (July 19)
EAST: Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody, Mass. (July 25)

Each player will receive two Under Armour compression shirts. In addition, each team will receive three Under Armour coach's shirts.

St. John's Prep won last year's North Regional. Haverhill, Mass., won last year's New England title.

The North Regional field:

BLACK: Timberlane, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols (Mass.), York (Maine), Bedford (Mass.), Wells (Maine), Merrimack Valley, Chelmsford (Mass.), Swampscott (Mass.), Windham and Boston English (Mass.)

GREEN: Marshwood (Maine), Dover, Billerica (Mass.), Bonny Eagle (Maine), Bishop Guertin, Brooks School (Mass.), Monadnock and Pembroke Academy.

GREY: Longmeadow (Mass.), Exeter, Haverhill (Mass.), Westford Academy (Mass.), Greater Lawrence Tech (Mass.), Concord, Winthrop (Mass.), Portsmouth and St. Thomas Aquinas.

RED: John Stark, Goffstown, ConVal, Manchester Memorial and Governor's Academy (Mass.).

ROYAL: Epping, Falmouth (Maine), Methuen (Mass.), Winnacunnet, Danvers (Mass.), Manchester West, Pelham and Londonderry.

Brackets will be posted later this month.

Discount extended for New Hampshire Football Showcase

The discount for this year's New Hampshire Football Showcase has been extended. Athletes can save $25 off of the $149 price if they register by Sunday (6 p.m.). This year's event will be held June 28 at Bedford High School:

The following schools have confirmed they will attend

Division I: UNH and Maine.
Division II: St. Anselm, Stonehill and Assumption.
Division III: Endicott, Plymouth State, Fitchburgh State, Anna Maria, Castleton State, Maine Maritime, Mass. Maritime, Nichols, Norwich, WPI, Knox (illinois).
Sprint: Franklin Pierce.

In addition, three prep schools, Bridgton Academy, Proctor Academy and Worcester Academy, will be in attendance.

This is not a teaching camp. This event is designed to gain exposure for high school athletes who are looking to play college football, especially those who would like to increase their chance of playing at the Division II or Division III level.

Athletes can register by clicking on the link above. 

April 30, 2015

Harris among UNH players with special interest in draft

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

UNH logo.jpg

Wide receiver R.J. Harris and a bunch of his former UNH teammates worked out for about 10 professional scouts a little more than a month ago at the NH Sportsplex in Bedford.

The Wildcats will find out shortly how well - or if - the training they did prior to the UNH Pro Day on March 19, their efforts at the Sportsplex and their work since that day, at times in front of more scouts and teams, will pay off.

The 2015 NFL Draft begins tonight at 8 in Chicago. Round 1 will be conducted tonight. Rounds 2 and 3 are set for Friday night beginning at 7.

Rounds 4 through 7 - the portion of the draft that will most pique the interest of the local contingent - are Saturday, starting at noon.

After leading UNH to the semifinals of the NCAA's FCS tournament each of the last two years, the Wildcats opened some eyes at the Pro Day and in other workouts for scouts.
Now they're looking for an opportunity to get into a professional camp and move up to the next level. 

Harris, 6-foot and 201 pounds, tight end Harold Spears, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, and center Mike Coccia, 6-foot-3 and 301, are getting much attention.

Quarterback Andy Vailas, defensive end Cody Muller, defensive back Steven Thames and punter Brad Prasky are in the mix as well and players such as safety Nick Cefalo and running backs Nico Steriti and Jimmy Owens, both of whom have been rehabbing from injuries, would love to get a shot, too.

"All these guys have improved their chances with what they've done' said coach Sean McDonnell. "Some have gotten their names on the radar by having a good Pro Day out there and by running, throwing or doing something well in front of some scouts. It's the most guys we've had in a long time that are getting looked at. All of them are really talented kids. They're just going to need an opportunity."

Harris likely has the best shot at being drafted in a later round. He's had individual workouts with several teams, including a session with Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, the former UNH assistant, and the Green Bay Packers. Coccia also worked out for the Eagles.

Harris had a school record 100 catches for 1,551 yards last year - matching David Ball's record for most receiving years in a season - and also caught 15 touchdown passes.

A knock on Harris had been his speed. He was timed at 4.7 seconds in the 40 as a junior and trimmed that to 4.51 at the Pro Day and interest in him quickly amped up.

"It's very similar to David Ball," McDonnell said. "A kid that had unbelievable production at the FCS level, but didn't show the all-out speed, but showed something."

McDonnell compared Harris to Cory Graham, a former UNH defensive back who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 draft by the Chicago Bears.

"I was talking to a couple of scouts about it," McDonnell said. "This is a kid very similar to Cory Graham, a very talented athlete who can do multiple things offensively but at the same time can go cover a kick, can block for a kick, can return a kickoff and that kind of thing. It will be interesting to see what happens with him. He's not going to be in the top three or four rounds for a wide receiver. If he gets to some place, he's going to have make a name, not only as a receiver, but as a special teams player."

Graham made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 2011 with the Bears, won a Super Bowl with the Ravens the next year and now plays for his hometown Buffalo Bills.

"For R.J., it's his explosiveness at our level, his ability to catch the ball, his ability to run after catch, his ability to play multiple positions and last and I think the most important thing is, he has the ability to play special teams," McDonnell said.

McDonnell said it's difficult to predict how a player might fare in the draft.

"Who knows?" he said. "Who knows what anybody's saying to each other? I learned a long time ago from Coach Bowes (his mentor and the former UNH coach) that people will tell you what you want to hear not what you needed to hear about some of these things. I'm just counting on what the kids have done and the teams' interest in them. Spears has put himself in a really good position that way as well."

Spears had 56 catches for 838 yards last season and Coccia was a mainstay on the offensive line throughout his career.

"R.J., Spears and Coccia, I think their Pro Day helped their stock more than anything," McDonnell said. "They've gotten opportunities to visit multiple teams. Coccia is a guy who's an extremely good player, great player at this level. Maybe a tad undersized for the next level, but very smart, very athletic, very tough. People like those kind of things. . . . Spears, he's gotten bigger. He blocked better this year. He could always run and catch. He played harder this year and it really showed up. In his workouts he was smooth and he was catching the ball and running and jumping and it really impressed people."

The next step for all the Wildcats is to get into a pro camp - drafted or not, National Football League or Canadian Football League - and grab an opportunity to keep playing.

Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider

April 29, 2015

Discount available for New Hampshire Football Showcase

The following schools have confirmed they will attend the New Hampshire Football Showcase on June 28 at Bedford High School:

Division I: UNH and Maine.
Division II: St. Anselm, Stonehill and Assumption.
Division III: Plymouth State, Fitchburgh State, Anna Maria, Castleton State, Maine Maritime, Mass. Maritime, Nichols, WPI, Knox (illinois).
Sprint: Franklin Pierce.

In addition, three prep schools, Bridgton Academy, Proctor Academy and Worcester Academy, will be in attendance.

This is not a teaching camp. This event is designed to gain exposure for New Hampshire athletes who are looking to play college football, especially those who would like to increase their chance of playing at the Division II or Division III level.

Athletes can register by clicking on the link above. There is a $25 discount for those who register by May 1.

April 26, 2015

UNH has depth at linebacker

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

UNH logo.jpgThe fact that linebacker Akil Anderson, UNH's top tackler the last two seasons, has been on the sideline for most activities during spring football cuts a couple of ways - as is usually the case in such situations. 

"Not having him in there is good and bad," said UNH coach Sean McDonnell after a practice Saturday in Cowell Stadium that featured a spirited scrimmaging session. "The good thing is that the young guys are getting a lot of reps. I think (Ryan) Farrell's had a hell of a spring so far. (Kevin) McNally was getting good reps when (DeVaughn) Chollette was hurt early. Those three guys with Anderson are going to be the four guys we count on at linebacker."

McDonnell is comfortable with what he sees at linebacker.

"You feel really good about the linebacking positon," he said. "For McNally and Farrell, it's time to take next the next step."

Anderson, who will be a senior in the fall, paired at linebacker alongside Shane McNeely the last two seasons and they were one-two atop the defensive statistics each season. Anderson had 82 tackles last year and 124 the year before.

Chollette, who will be a junior, has been third man in and he averaged 65 tackles a year those two seasons.

Anderson has worn a colored jersey indicating he's rehabbing an injury this spring and Farrell and McNally, both juniors, have joined Chollette in the rotation.

McNally had 28 tackles last year and Farrell had 18.

Senior safety Daniel Rowe likes the looks of the linebackers in front of him.

"We've got a beast in Ryan Farrell," Rowe said. "We've got a beast in Kevin McNally. They're very good. Good blitzers. They're very good in coverage and they're smart. We're going to miss Shane, but he has some very good replacements in Kevin McNally and Ryan Farrell. We have Akil, who's very good, and we have DeVaughn Chollette who is a very physical linebacker for us."

Redshirt freshmen Jared Kuehl and John Dicaro could help, too.

"I think they're going to be good football players down the road," McDonnell said.
Quarterback Sean Goldrich, who will be a senior, threw three touchdown passes - two of them to sophomore Aaron Lewis-Cenales - in the situational scrimmage.

Junior Kyon Taylor also caught two TD passes - one from Goldrich and the other from junior Adam Riese - and junior tight end Jordan Powell had a few catches.

"I was pleased to see those guys catch the ball and make plays when they had to make plays," McDonnell said. "As opposed to two weeks ago at this time, we made some plays on the offensive side of the ball. Some kids caught the ball, made some nice runs and catches. The defense was on their heels a little bit and we'll see why. I thought they rose up again as the game went along and played a little better at the end."

The defense was hitting hard from the start.

Junior quarterback Chris McCormick took one of the hard hits early and left the scrimmage with an injury as a result.

That left Goldrich and Riese as the two quarterbacks. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight has seen limited action since suffering an ankle sprain two weeks ago.

"Powell made some plays," McDonnell said. "Riese did a heckuva job today, too. He did some real good things. Got a lot of reps. Unfortunate that Christian got hurt, but it was good for Adam to go out and get some reps."

The defense came up with a goal line stand after the No. 1 offense marched down the field on its next to last possession. Its last possession was in a two-minute drill situation and Goldrich finished it with one of his touchdown passes to Lewis-Cenales.

The scrimmage ended with an interception by sophomore D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie on a Riese pass on the next two-minute drill.

Junior running back Dalton Crossan, who has been rehabbing a leg injury, is back practicing but did not take part in the scrimmage.

The Wildcats have two practices remaining before next Saturday's Blue-White game that brings spring football to a close. The game is set for noon.

April 24, 2015

Saint Anselm offering coaches clinic tonight

7th Annual Saint Anselm College Football Clinic

Who: Division III Colleges, High School & Youth Coaches

Where: Saint Anselm College - Sullivan Arena

(Located directly behind the football stadium)

When: April 24th, 2015

Cost: $30.00 Per Person / $120.00 Per Staff

(Includes Food & Beverages as well as Adult Beverages at Conclusion)

Discount Hotel Rooms Available at Hampton Inn Through SAC Football

Time: 4:45 pm Check In

We look forward to seeing you and your staff on campus. If you could please RSVP to Yon Boone at 603.641.7665 on it would be greatly appreciated.


Blue Room

5:00 - 5:50: Pat Murphy St. Anselm HC (Spread Offense Q&A Open Forum)

6:00 - 6:50: Eddy Morissey Assistant HC/OL Coach Princeton (Coaching OL in a Tempo Offense)

7:00 - 7:50: Cory Bailey DL Coach Coastal Carolina (DL Drills/Techniques)

8:00 - 8:50: Don Brown Defensive Coordinator Boston College (Stop the Run at all Cost!)

9:00 - 9:50: Sean McDonnell UNH Head Coach (The Wildcat Way)

White Room

5:00 - 5:50: Yon Boone St. Anselm (Quarters Coverage) 6:00 - 6:50: Jay Civetti Head Coach Tufts (Jumbo Special Teams Pride)

7:00 - 7:50: Jim Turner Former NFL/FBS OL Coach (OL Drills/Techniques)

8:00 - 8:50: Jim Turner Former NFL/FBS OL Coach (OL Drills/Techniques)

9:00 - 9:50: Chris Batti RB Coach Harvard (RB Skills & Drills)

April 23, 2015

UNH among schools that will attend NH Football Showcase

The following schools have confirmed they will attend the New Hampshire Football Showcase on June 28 at Bedford High School:

UNH, Maine, Plymouth State, St. Anselm, Fitchburg State, Franklin Pierce, Anna Maria, Castleton State, Maine Maritime, Mass. Maritime, Nichols, WPI, and Knox (Illinois). This list will be updated as more schools commit.

In addition, three prep schools, Bridgton Academy, Proctor Academy and Worcester Academy, will be in attendance.

This is not a teaching camp. This event is designed to gain exposure for New Hampshire athletes who are looking to play college football, especially those who would like to increase their chance of playing at the Division II or Division III level.

Athletes can register by clicking on the link above. There is a $25 discount for those who register by May 1.

Saint Anselm will hold coaches clinic Friday night

NHFR logo.jpg

April 24: Saint. Anselm College coaches clinic (Saint Anselm/Manchester), 4:45 p.m.

May 2: Dartmouth Spring Game (Hanover), 10 a.m.; UNH Spring Game (Durham), TBA

June 27: New Hampshire CHaD East-West All-Star Game (Saint Anselm College), 7 p.m.
June 28: New Hampshire Football Showcase (Bedford High School), 9-1 p.m.; 
St. Anselm Shootout 7-on-7 tournament (Saint Anselm/Manchester), 9 a.m.

July 11-12: Northeast Football Clinics (Governor's Academy/Byfield, Mass.)
July 18: Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 tournament (Exeter High School), 10 a.m. 

Aug. 1: Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl (Castleton State College), 5:30 p.m.
To have an item added to the New Hampshire Football Report calendar, contact Roger Brown at
Joe Yukica Football Foundation