WASHINGTON – The Gallaudet University football team has placed last season in the rearview mirror and are all in for the 2015 season. The Bison are rebuilding from a 2-7 campaign after winning the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title in 2013.
GU entered training camp energized, focused and most importantly healthy. Injuries riddled the buff and blue last season, especially at the end of the season, as the depleted roster suffered five straight losses. The Bison will turn the page in 2015 and prepare for each opponent that comes their way.
Here is a breakdown of the 2015 Gallaudet Bison football team.
Gallaudet senior BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) is ready to bounce back from a 2014 season that was cut short by injury. He finished last year with 462 rushing yards and three touchdowns in six games while being named to the ECFC Second Team Offense unit.
Flores will have the benefit from having seniors Todd Collins (East Islip, N.Y.) and Leo Parnell (Boston, Mass.) on an experienced offensive line. Collins and Parnell were named to the All-ECFC first team and honorable mention teams, respectively, last year and served as co-captains. Senior Sean Maiwald (San Jose, Calif.), juniors Sean Fenton (Chicago, Ill.), Devaron Scott (Mocksville, N.C.), sophomore Gabe Reedy (Singers Glen, Va.) all have experience on the line from last year. New addition Cameron Ethington will contribute on the line in his first season.
Junior running back John Anderson (Clarksville, Tenn.) saw action in eight games and gained 200 yards and scored twice. Senior Braxton Baker (Webb City, Mo.) is back after being sidelined with an injury for the majority of the 2014 season. Baker gained 145 yards on 21 rushes in five games.
Freshman Ramon Johnson, sophomore Antoine McKinney (Racine, Wis.), senior Ben Coleman (St. Paris, Ohio) and freshman Zane Pedersen are GU's quarterback prospects. McKinney played in nine games and completed 14-of-65 passes for 164 yards and rushed for 167 yards.
Anton Jackson (Detroit, Mich.) traded in his basketball shoes for football cleats and will line-up at wide receiver for the buff and blue this fall. GU coaches are excited for freshmen Dylan Mento and Lawrence Watson to join the offensive unit this season.
The Gallaudet defense will have a new identity in 2015 and a new defensive coordinator for the first time in six seasons after John Davis, the 2014 American Football Coaches Association Division III Assistant Coach of the Year, left to become the head coach at Central Florida Christian Academy. Vince Brown steps into Davis' old role after spending two seasons coaching the linebackers and serving as the recruiting coordinator for the Bison.
Juniors Carneilus Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) and Jacy Pedersen (Fremont, Calif.) will anchor a young defensive unit. Smith was named to the 2014 All-ECFC Second Team defense after he finished third on the team with 61 tackles and a team-high five interceptions for 57 yards. Pederson finished with 27 tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss of 16 yards. Fellow junior Shawn Benavente (Phoenix, Ariz.) begins his second season on the team and made quite the impression last season with 42 tackles, four sacks for a loss of 31 yards and 10.5 tackles for a loss of 45 yards. Senior Ryan Santana (Palm Bay, Fla.) was third on the team with three sacks and tallied 37 tackles. Junior Lucas Newton (Rockingham, N.C.) switches to the defensive line after two seasons on the offensive line. Freshman Brad Peterson will make an impact on the defensive line in his rookie season. Senior Tony Dall (Indianapolis, Ind.), sophomore Brandon Capuano (Lexington, N.C.) and junior Eric Givens (Miami, Fla.) return in the secondary and will be joined by sophomore Joell Dixon (Clinton, Md.).
For the third year in a row the Bison will begin the season against Shenandoah University on Saturday, Sept. 5, under the lights at 7 p.m. in Winchester, Va. The visiting team has won the past two meetings as GU handed the Hornets a 31-20 loss in 2013, the last time this series was played at SU. GU will rest a week before hosting Greensboro College in the home opener at Hotchkiss Field on Sept. 19 at 1 p.m.
The month of October finds the Bison diving into ECFC play as they travel to Newton, Mass., to face Mount Ida College on Oct. 3. GU returns home on Oct. 10 to host Norwich University at noon. The Bison hit the road the following week off to Vermont and Castleton State College on Oct. 17. Gallaudet will host its annual homecoming game on Oct. 24 as the Bison welcome defending ECFC champion Husson University for a 1 p.m. contest. Last season, the Eagles went 8-2 but their toughest win, 12-6, came at home against Gallaudet. The month of October wraps up on Halloween when GU travels to Leicester, Mass., to face Becker College on Oct. 31.
Gallaudet will start November at home against Anna Maria College on Nov. 7 at noon. This is the final home game for the Bison during the regular season and will mark Senior Day. GU concludes the regular season on Nov. 14 against State University of New York Maritime College on the road at 1 p.m.