The summer is nearing its end and that can only mean one thing in Richmond…it’s time for Colonel football once again! The Colonels are entering the 2018 season with lofty goals under third year head coach Mark Elder. Elder has seen his Colonels improve each year under his leadership. Last year the Colonels were 4-7 overall 3-5 in league play. EKU had n opportunity to finish even in league play leading Austin Peay 24-14 entering the fourth quarter before the Governors scored seventeen unanswered to win 31-24. Against Eastern Illinois Colonels scored with 38 seconds left to take a lead but EIU scored with 2 second left to tie the game and eventually win in overtime. This season the Colonels return fourteen starters from last season, seven each on offense and defense. Last year of the 110 players on the roster 60 were freshman or red-shirt freshman. Coach Elder has put together in his three seasons top twenty-five recruiting classes. In 2016 even though he only had a couple of months to do so he put together a recruiting class ranked 23rd best in the country. In 2017 the recruiting class was ranked 14th best and last seasons was ranked 11th best. While having great recruiting classes are great on paper this is the year that those recruits should start paying dividends on the field. Think of Austin Peay who had been bottom of the league for years, they put together highly touted classes and last season had a chance for an at-large bid to the playoffs.
Colonels lost some key players last season including their quarterback Tim Boyle. Boyle now playing for the Green Bay Packers has a shot of being the backup to Aaron Rodgers. The question for Colonel fans all summer has been, who replaces Boyle under center? The coaching staff as of this writing is yet to name a game one starter. The only quarterback with experience returning is Sophomore Austin Scott. Scott played in every game last year as a true freshman going 23-47 for 243 yards. He had one touchdown and three interceptions. Regardless of who starts at QB they will have a pair of key receivers returning. Pre-season first teamer tight end Dan Paul caught 41 balls for 407 yards and a touchdown. He led all OVC tight end in receptions. Neiko Creamer had 40 receptions for 485 yards. A pair of talented running backs returns as well in Darryl McClesky, he led the team in rushing last season with 558 yards. LJ Scott returns his 294 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns as well. Scott is a pre-season all OVC player as a kick returner. Last season he averaged 30 yards a return which was 4th best in the country. On the defensive side of the ball pre-season all American Aaron Patrick will anchor the defense. He was 1st team all OVC in 2016 as a sophomore as well as being named to the Heroes all American sophomore team. In 2017 he only saw action in three games before an injury ended his season. Senior Gavin Bryant is the team’s leading tackler with 44 total tackles in 9 games last season. A key loss from last year’s team is punter Keith Wrzuszczak who was an all American with an average of 44.1 yards a punt while having 11 punts of 50 yards or better.
The game Thursday night will be against rival Morehead State. Colonels lead the all-time series 52-16-4 with the last meeting being in 2014 with Eastern winning 55-13. With a new quarterback and three top twenty-five recruiting classes this year’s team will be looking for the first OVC championship since 2011 (7-5 6-2). The last time the Colonels saw postseason play was 2014. This year EKU was picked to finish 6th by the coaches and 4th by Hero Sports. Game time for Thursday night is set for 7:00 with our tailgate show set for 5:30 from the Colonel Club parking lot. Join Michael Watkins and Donald Foster at each home game this season starting ninety minutes before game time as they talk with Colonel fans and break down the game. After the tailgate show join the long time voice of Colonels Greg Stotelmyer for every game on the flagship station of Colonel athletics 100.7 FM The Coyote.