University of Saint Francis head coach Kevin Donley handles the quarterbacks. His son, Patrick, serves as offensive coordinator and coaches the receivers.
This should make for some interesting conversations next fall.
Kevin Donley has senior-to-be, record-setting Nick Ferrer as the starting quarterback. Patrick Donley has a receiving corps loaded with talent but short on college experience. Blending the unit will be a priority.
“Patrick will be working with a lot of youth at that position,” Kevin Donley said. “I just have to try not to screw up Nick.”
Reigning NAIA national champion Saint Francis put a big emphasis on receivers in recruiting this year, signing seven incoming targets for Ferrer: North Central’s Tyronne Caldwell, Tri-West’s Casey Coll, East Noble’s Dylan Hunley, Penn’s Matt Kominkiewicz, Tri-West’s Derek Lucas, Crown Point’s Shane McCormick and Lawrence North’s Martell Williams.
“We were hardest hit in the receiving corps, and I think we did pretty well there (in recruiting),” Kevin Donley said.
The Cougars will be replacing four seniors in the passing game in Seth Coate, Montay McDowell, Akeim Kelsaw and wingback Jason Nicodemus. Coate set Saint Francis records for receiving yards (1,693) and touchdowns (25) in a season in 2016.
Donley is especially excited about the versatility that Coll can bring to the mix. Coll, who is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, was a Class 3A first-team all-state player at linebacker.
“He’s a kid that can play wide receiver, he can play wingback, he can play tight end, he can play linebacker,” Donley said. “He’s going to be an impact player. He’s what you get if you combine Seth Coate and Piercen (Harnish, Saint Francis’ leading tackler).”
Coll won’t likely see any time at linebacker, however, since starters Harnish and Eric Dunten return, along with outside linebackers Spencer Cowherd and Marcus Stepp. Bishop Dwenger’s Peter Winkeljohn has also committed, along with Bellmont’s Caleb Hankenson. Hankenson was one of the most versatile athletes in the Northeast Eight Conference.
Coll will likely head straight to the offensive unit.
“I think offensively, (Coll) has too many ball skills; we don’t want to miss out on those,” Donley said.
Hunley was first-team all-state in Class 4A at receiver and Kominkiewicz was honorable mention in Class 6A. Kominkiewicz’s brother, Brandon, played at Saint Francis five years ago. McCormick, who is 6-foot-6, was also an outstanding pick-up for Saint Francis.
The secondary was another area of recruiting emphasis for the Cougars with the loss of Jerrell Holman and Na’Shawn Lewis.
Fisher’s Jalen Moss, Merrillville’s Sean Roch’e and Toledo St. John’s Anthony Moore are among the top incoming defensive backs. Moore is one of the top 100- and 200-meter sprinters in Ohio.
Columbus Grove, Ohio, offensive tackle Rece Roney (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) is among the top incoming linemen, along with Ryder Burchett of Noblesville and Jorge Quintana of Plymouth. Southport’s Ethan Vanover and South Bend St. Joseph’s Justin Groves are among the top defensive linemen committed.
Fort Wayne-area players committed to Saint Francis include Winkeljohn of Dwenger, Hunley and defensive end Cade Erwin of East Noble, Hankenson of Bellmont, defensive backs QaMari Hassan and Fabieon Pearson of Wayne, offensive lineman Ian Wellman of Adams Central and running back Eli Wallace of Lakeland.
Donley said Saint Francis could sign a few more players in the next few days.
“You want to find kids with tremendous potential that are going to be producers and try to work to get to their maximum potential,” Donley said. “We’ve got good kids again, lots of high academic kids.”
Saint Francis 2017 commits
Name Position High School
Ryder Burchett OL Greenwood
Tyronne Caldwell WR North Central
Casey Coll WB/WR Tri-West
Austin Dreyer OL Noblesville
Cade Erwin DE East Noble
Justin Groves DL South Bend St. Joe
Caleb Hankenson LB Bellmont
QaMari Hassan DB Wayne
Jake Hill QB Tri-West
Noah Hill DB Muncie Central
Dylan Hunley WR East Noble
David Judy OL New Palestine
Adam Kincaid DB New Palestine
Matt Kominkiewicz WR Penn
Derek Lucas WR Tri-West
Nick Lucas DB Lake Central
Shane McCormick WR Crown Point
Anthony Moore DB Toledo St. John (Ohio)
Jalen Moss DB Fishers
Fabieon Pearson DB Wayne
Trey Poore DB Fishers
Jorge Quintana OL Plymouth
Sean Roch’e DB Merrillville
Rece Roney OT Columbus Grove (Ohio)
Ethan Vanover DL Southport
Eli Wallace RB Lakeland
Ian Wellman OL Adams Central
Spencer West DE Columbus North
Martell Williams WR Lawrence North
Peter Winkeljohn LB Bishop Dwenger