New Hampshire Football Report

UNH has void to fill at RB

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

DURHAM – Two-hundred and ninety-five.

Assistant coach Chris Setian wrote the number on the board at an early meeting of the University of New Hampshire crew of running backs for the 2017 season.

“All the guys see that big number, that 295, there,” Setian said. “Everyone wants a piece of that.”

The 295 represents the number of times Dalton Crossan, a standout senior running back a year ago, got his hands on the ball last season: He rushed 233 times for 1,281 yards, caught 42 passes for 266 yards and returned 20 kickoffs for 430 yards.

Big numbers. Big production.

Those carries and catches are up for grabs heading into 2017.

Spring football concludes with the annual Blue-White Spring Game on Saturday at noon in Wildcat Stadium. The concession stands will be open during the Spring game.

The 2017 season opens with a “Thursday Night Throwdown” game against Maine on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. UNH and Maine have traditionally, especially in recent years, played at the end of the season.

The running back group took a hit midway through the spring when senior Trevon Bryant went down with a knee injury during practice. He is scheduled to have surgery in May and will miss the season. The loss of Bryant shuffles the depth chart at running back.

Sophomore Evan Gray moves up and is penciled in as the starter. Seniors Donald Goodrich and Jerickson Fedrick are listed as backups.

In addition, redshirt freshman DeUnte Chatman was switched from linebacker to running back after the Bryant injury.

Gray had 14 carries for 66 yards and an impressive touchdown last season. He broke free for a 22-yard score in UNH’s FCS playoff win over Lehigh.

“It was explosive and it was fast,” Setian said. “He’s big and he’s deceptively quick. He’s got great feet in the hole. . . . He’s got things to work on just like everybody else. We’re really excited about him. He’s really smooth. He has good hips. And what he can do is reaccelerate his feet in the hole. If he can continue to do that, it’s going to be a really bright future for him.”

Goodrich has been a standout on special teams and has contributed on offense as well throughout his career.

“Donald Goodrich is a do-it-all guy,” Setian said. “He is a leader on special teams, a leader in our offense. He’s probably one of the more experienced guys we have. He’s another guy that we can trust and put him in any different sort of spot. At H-back, at running back. We can put him out wide. We can have him lead block. We can give him the ball. We can throw him the ball. On special teams, he’s everywhere. He’s the first one down the field on kickoffs. He takes control of the punt team. He’s a very vocal guy for us. . . . We can put him out there and know he’s going to get there and he’s going to be in the right spot, which is great.”

Fedrick, who played at Salem High School, transferred in from Maine.

“When he goes downhill, he’s a big body and when he gets downhill and moving fast it’s hard to tackle him,” Setian said. “He gets hit and then he still goes for 6 yards. It’s flashes of really good downhill, tough football. He needs to continue to strive for that.”

Chatman had been impressive on the defensive side of the ball, too.

“It will be good to get him more days back there (at running back),” coach Sean McDonnell said. “I know he’s talented. He’s just got to get in the groove and figure out what’s going on. Out of high school he was an outstanding running back. In prep school he was an outstanding running back.”

A resident of Houston, Chatman spent a prep year at Loomis Chaffee in Windsor, Conn. He rushed 92 times for 1,132 and 16 TDs at Loomis Chaffee. He also had 76 tackles with 34 for loss, including 16 sacks.

“When he came last year, we didn’t need a running back,” McDonnell said. “He’s a terrific linebacker. He was really gifted on the defensive side. When you take a step back and look, we’ve got a freshman coming in who’s a good player but we wanted to see what DeUnte could do in six practices rather than wait ’til the fall to make the switch, so we did it right now.”

Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider.

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