New Hampshire Football Report

New faces bolster UNH offense

DURHAM – Running back Carlos Washington, Jr., and lineman Cam Smith are two of the newcomers in the mix for playing time on offense for the University of New Hampshire football team.

Last year at this time, Washington was getting his first taste of collegiate football in preseason camp as a UNH freshman and Smith was heading into his senior season as a returning starter for the Lafayette College football team of the Patriot League.

Now Smith, a graduate transfer, is working to be one of the guys blocking up front for Washington, who is looking to earn his chances to carry the ball in a talented group at running back that includes junior Evan Gray, the returning starter, and Trevon Bryant, a captain who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

The Wildcats will have their final scrimmage of the season Tuesday at noon and then turn their attention to their season opener at Maine on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

Washington, 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds from Fort Washington, Md., is a redshirt freshman after sitting out last season. He’s an explosive runner and rushed for 1,200 yards and collected 300 yards in pass receptions to total 20 touchdowns as a senior at Riverdale Baptist High School.

“Carlos is very much a slasher type of runner with great power,” said Sean McDonnell, who is starting his 20th season as UNH’s head coach. “He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He makes people miss in open space. It will be good to see how he develops. At the end of last spring he was playing pretty well.”

Washington has been impressive in fall camp.

“We’ve got to find ways to get guys balls in different situations,” McDonnell said. “We’re going to take a look at Carlos returning punts. We’re going to take a look at Carlos returning kicks. Try to get him in the mix with Evan and Trevon at running back, two really experienced guys. That’s a good thing to have, a third one like that. It gives us some multiplicity.”

Gray led UNH with 181 carries for 650 yards and scored eight of the team’s 12 rushing touchdowns last season.

In 2016, Bryant averaged six yards per carry (82 carries for 496 yards) and scored five rushing TDs playing behind Dalton Crossan.

“There are going to be three guys that are really good running backs back there,” McDonnell said. “Evan Gray has played well in spots. He’s got to get a little more consistent. … Trevon’s probably one of the most efficient football players we have in the program. He makes things happen every time he touches the football. He knows where to go, where to cut. Very few negative plays when he’s in the game running the football, which is a credit to him because he finds holes to get yards and things he needs.”

McDonnell also commended the play of freshmen running backs Dylan Laube and Jacob Post.

Smith, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds out of Medway, Mass., started every game of his sophomore and junior seasons at Lafayette. He started the first two games last year before an injury ended his season.

He graduated from Lafayette and was interested in pursuing a masters degree.

“We recruited him out of high school and he graduated from Lafayette and wanted to come,” McDonnell said. “He talked to three or four teams in the CAA and we had a perfect fit for him: Football that he liked and the most important thing for him was that we had a great engineering program with a masters degree that’s going to give him something special by the time it’s done.”

Smith plans to earn his masters degree this year.

“That was a significant portion of it,” Smith said. “Coming here for the fifth year of football, which I’m fortunate enough to have, and coming here to get my graduate degree in mechanical engineering.”

He has yet to start class, but likes the fit on the football side of things in camp.

“There’s a great culture here, a great environment,” he said. “There’s a lot of hardworking people who really want to win. You can see it out on the field and up in the meeting rooms and stuff. It’s great to see it.  . . . They win a few more games here than I’ve been able to win in my career so far. It should be exciting.”

Smith is competing with junior Noah Robison — a 6-foot-6 and 282-pound graduate of Pinkerton Academy in Derry, who transferred to UNH from Coastal Carolina – for the starting role at right tackle.

Senior Dayne Herron, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, is the starter at left tackle. Junior Jeff Carter, 6-foot-4 and 285, filled in nicely when Herron was banged up for a scrimmage Sunday night, McDonnell said.

Redshirt freshman Patrick Flynn, 6-foot-3, 274 pounds, is penciled in as the starter at center.

“I’m pleased with what he’s doing,” McDonnell said. “We’re giving him a shot to run with it during fall camp with the ones.”

Sophomores Matt Mascia, 6-foot-2 and 287, and Jack Carroll, 6-foot-2 and 289, have been the starters at the guard spots and are being pushed by juniors Nick Velte, 6-foot-3 and 291 pounds, and Matt Matulis, 6-foot-2 and 278 pounds, McDonnell said.

“I feel pretty good that we’ve got some guys,” McDonnell said of the competition for playing time on the offensive line. “A little bit more depth than we had last year.”

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