New Hampshire Football Report

DeAndrade provides veteran presence

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

It starts with Casey DeAndrade.

Any discussion of the secondary – the safeties and cornerbacks that make up the backend of the UNH defense – begins with the guy who has been a starter throughout his career and a Colonial Athletic Association first-team, all-conference selection each of the past two seasons.

“Obviously Casey’s going to be the cornerstone of the secondary,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “It’s important that he stays healthy. His position is very important for us, how our scheme works in the secondary, being the cover corner, the boundary corner. It’s huge.”

DeAndrade had been a major factor in the defensive backfield since day one with the Wildcats.

“He has a very good understanding of the overall scheme, pretty much what everybody’s job is, which is always nice,” said John Lyons, the defensive coordinator who works with the cornerbacks. “Some guys just memorize what they have to do. He understands everything. Plus, he’s a good player. He’s big, fast and strong and he’s smart. That’s a good combination to have.”

UNH is in the midst of its spring schedule of 15 practices. The annual Blue-White spring game wraps things up Saturday, May 7 at noon.

The 2016 season begins with a game at San Diego State, an FBS school, on Sept. 3.

DeAndrade is especially helpful as the Wildcats rebuild their secondary with him as the centerpiece this spring.

“He’s doing a really good job in terms of being a leader for us on the defense, particularly the back end,” Lyons said. “It’s nice to have somebody like that, particularly now with the number of new guys we have back there. He’s just one of those kids who was able to pick things up very quickly.”

DeAndrade led the team in overall tackles last year with 76 and also in solo tackles with 55. He had a couple of interceptions and also led the team with 10 pass breakups.

He’ll again man one of the cornerback spots.

Juniors Marquis Carr and Pat Mensah and redshirt freshmen Malik Wilder and Isiah Perkins will vie for playing time at cornerback opposite DeAndrade.

Marquis Carr is another kid we’ve got to look at and see how much he’s improved and see if he can get in the mix with the graduation of Dougie Moss,” McDonnell said. “Then you’ve got Pat Mensah and Malik Wilder, both guys that are back there and have to compete for us. Somewhere along the line with Isaiah Perkins at corner/safety we’re looking forward to seeing how much he improved from last fall to now.”

Graduation has led to major turnover at safety where the Wildcats generally have three players teamed with their two cornerbacks.

“The safety position is wide, wide open,” McDonnell said.

A trio of juniors – D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Nick Marino and Geno Miller – have the most experience at the safety spots.

Then there are a bunch of others in the mix, junior Cody Rothwell, who’s over from running back, joining redshirt freshmen Rick Ellison, Matt Sherlock, Dean Adams and Michael Balsamo.

“We’ve got a full crew in there, but a very, very, very young group,” said assistant coach Scott James, who works with the safeties.

Drummond-Mayrie played as a true freshman in 2014 and had 10 tackles and last year had 15 tackles and an interception. Marino had nine tackles and an interception last season.

“Drum’s had one of the better winter, development phases of any player I’ve dealt with over the years,” James said. “He’s clearly taken the next step. Right now, he knows exactly what’s expected, knows exactly the type of speed we’re looking for. He knows the count. He knows the good and the bad that can happen, all the variables. He just goes. That’s what I think we see. This stripping away of anxiety.”

Marino had nine tackles and an interception last season.

“Nicky Marino’s been a great leader,” James said. “He’s one of the more intelligent people I’ve ever worked with. He’s also a great student, engineering student. He comes into the room and knows all three safety positions. He probably could talk about other positions on the field as well, defensively. There’s a trust level there from all the other players. They know if there’s a question that maybe I can’t articulate well, they can go to him. Like Drum his work ethic is very high.”

Miller had three tackles last season.

“Geno’s had a few injuries,” James said. “He show the kids it’s how you fight back through those things. How to stay focused through those things. How to do your job not just on the field but off the field as well. Keep my academics up. Stay out of trouble.”

James likes the prospects.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s exciting to see where we go. With this much youth, this much inexperience, it’s fun.. . . They’re an eager group. They’re a smart group. . .  I’ve got a good group there. It’s kind of sprouting.”


Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider.

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