New Hampshire Football Report

Santos returns to UNH

DURHAM – University of New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell announced Friday the hire of Ricky Santos as the Wildcats’ new associate head coach/quarterbacks coach, which returns the 2016 UNH Hall of Fame inductee to his alma mater in a coaching capacity for the second time.

“It means a lot to bring Ricky back to the UNH football family,” McDonnell said. “He brings the same intensity and work ethic to his coaching preparation as he did when he was setting records as a quarterback here, and our kids will benefit from having a coach with his experience working with them on the offensive side of the ball.”

Santos, a 2008 UNH graduate, spent the past three seasons (2016-18) as the QB coach at Columbia University of the Ivy League.

From 2013-15, Santos coached UNH’s wide receivers. In 2014, he mentored R.J. Harris to the single greatest statistical season in program history. Harris tallied a school-record 100 catches and led the nation with 1,551 receiving yards, which tied UNH’s all-time single-season benchmark. In 2013, Santos guided a dual threat of Harris and Justin Mello that became the first UNH teammates to each record 1,000 receiving yards.

Santos, whose uniform No. 2 is one of four jerseys retired by the UNH football program, was inducted into the UNH Athletics Hall of Fame on June 14, 2016. The four-year starter at quarterback (2004-07) led the Wildcats to a career 37-14 record and four NCAA Division I-AA/FCS playoff appearances. Over that time the native of Bellingham, Mass., guided New Hampshire to its first postseason victory at Georgia Southern (Nov. 27, 2004), was part of the 2005 Atlantic 10 championship team and two A-10 Northern Division title-winning teams (2004, 2006).

Santos passed for 13,212 passing yards and 123 touchdown passes while accumulating 14,615 yards of total offense. He connected with UNH’s all-time leading receiver and fellow University Hall of Famer David Ball for 53 touchdowns from 2004-06 to set an FCS record that still stands for most career TD connections for a QB-WR duo.

In 2006, Santos won the Walter Payton Award as the most outstanding offensive player in FCS football. The then-junior, who finished a mere five points away from garnering the honor the previous season, threw for 3,125 yards and 29 touchdowns.

In his 2004 rookie campaign, Santos was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year, Atlantic 10 co-Rookie of the Year, set the FCS record for most yards gained by a freshman in a game (538, at Villanova, Oct. 2, 2004) and freshman touchdown passes in a season (31).

He was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Team his first three years of eligibility, including two Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year awards (2005, 2006). In 2007, the quarterback earned a spot on the All-CAA First Team, was named the CAA co-Offensive Player of the Year and was feted as a Walter Camp All-American for the third time.

Santos possesses the University’s career records in pass attempts (1,498), completions (1,024) and passing yards (12,189). He holds the top two and four of the top six single-season records in completions, headlined by 301 in 2005. His ’05 season included a school-high 3,797 passing yards.

Santos owns the FCS single-game record for highest percentage of passes completed (96.2 percent) when he went 25 of 26 for 306 yards and five TDs in a 52-21 defeat of Northeastern on Oct. 22, 2005.

Following his graduation, Santos played football professionally for five years. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs for a brief stint in 2008 before moving north to play in the Canadian Football League from 2009-12. He was a member of the Montreal Alouettes in 2008 and ’09 before a trade sent him to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He re-signed with the Alouettes for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and wrapped up his pro career on the Toronto Argonauts’ practice squad in 2012.

Dating back to Santos’ redshirt freshman season, the UNH football program has advanced to the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons. With 98 career CAA victories, Sean McDonnell is the winningest active coach in the league and No. 3 all-time in conference history. He is one victory ahead of his mentor, NFF College Football Hall of Famer and Wildcat coaching legend Bill Bowes.

The UNH football program will begin its 15-practice spring schedule April 2, and will wrap it with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, May 4 (noon  ) at Wildcat Stadium.

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