The Gannon Knights had a disappointing 2012 season, posting a 3-8 record. Two of those three wins came in two of the last three games, giving the Knights some hope for the 2013 season. Offensively, nine starters are returning. Defensively, six starters are returning. The Knights will go into battle with a record-setting young quaterback and his three favorite targets on offense and a strong defensive back who led the team in tackles.
Here’s a look at what to expect from the Knights in 2013.
PSAC WEST PRESEASON POLL RANKING: 5
QB – Liam Nadler – Nadler is only a redshirt-sophomore but he plays like a 5th-year senior. He completed a school record 249 passes for 2,910 yards and 21 touchdowns, both of which are also school records. He put together eight 200-yard passing games, another school record, and led the Knights in a strong passing attack. With his three top targets returning, Nadler will be looking to revamp this offense.
WR – Abraham Ocasio – Ocasio also broke records last season. He broke the school record for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns with 64, 911, and 10 respectively. He tied another single-season school record with four 100-yard receiving games last season. He’s a big part of the scoring offense for Gannon. He found the endzone in six of Gannon’s eleven games and made at least four catches for at least 25 yards in every game.
RB – Jansen Jones – Jones is a senior leader on offense. He rushed for 692 yards and five touchdowns last season. After starting the season as a back-up, Jones started the last nine games for the Knights. Jones can rush but he can also catch balls out of the backfield. He hauled in 29 passes for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 100-yard game against Mercyhurst. Jones add a balance to the offense and can get involved in different aspects.
DB – Mike Phillips – Phillips is the returning leader on defense. He led the team in tackles with 96.0. 40.0 of those tackles were solo tackles. He also added 2 interceptions, 4 pass break-ups and a forced fumble. He posted double digit tackles in four games, including a 17 tackle performance against Bloomsburg. He also posted 12 tackles and an interception against the PSAC West co-champions, IUP.
DB – Ta’Von Bailey – Bailey will be a guy who needs to step up in 2013. The team’s next leading returning tackler, Bailey posted 51 total tackles and 13 pass break-ups last season. His 13 pass break-ups tied the single-season school record. Coming in as a junior, Bailey has a shot at establishing himself on a defense that is losing several key players.
LB – Luke Rankie – Rankie, like Bailey, should have a chance to become a leader on defense. Rankie posted 51 total tackles, including two back-to-back 10-tackle games to end the season. He started six games last season and will emerge as one of the starters this season. Despite only playing in seven games last season, Rankie played well and finished near the top in tackles on the team. He averaged 7.3 tackles per game as a redshirt-sophomore. Rankie will be a big part of this team defensively in 2013.
Photo Credit: Edge.Gannon.com