Blue Hen News

The New Faces Of Blue Hen Football


In their first season, UD’s head coach and AD have the players believing. The fans may be a harder sell.

Danny Rocco, who seven months ago was picked to lead the Delaware Blue Hens football team, is entering his 34th year of coaching—the last 11 as a head coach in the college ranks.

Football coaching is the Rocco family business, with dad Frank having been a longtime coach at both the high school and college levels; two brothers who spent their lives as high school coaches; and son David, who coaches wide receivers at Western Illinois.

After six years at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., then five seasons with Richmond, Rocco, 57, was hired by first-year Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak as UD’s new head coach in December.

As a head coach, Rocco has never had a losing season, and he doesn’t plan on seeing that streak broken now as he leads the Hens into the 2017 campaign.

Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak arrived from Michigan last May. She hired Rocco in December. Photo Moonloop Photography

“Success starts with high expectations, and Delaware expects to have a very competitive football team that’s smart, fast, and physical,” he says. “Our focus is on finishing better,” he adds, referring both to individual games and the season overall. “If we can finish better, we’ll be competitive.”

A competitive team is something die-hard fans like husband and wife Brian and Sarah Raughley have been waiting years to see again.

Brian, owner of Dead Presidents in Wilmington, and Sarah are long-time season ticket-holders and have spent many fall Saturday afternoons cheering on their alma mater at Delaware Stadium.

In fact, their midfield box has been in Sarah Raughley’s family for more than 50 years, and three generations of relatives from all over the state regularly gather in Newark for home games.

In recent years, however, both the on-field product and the highly unpopular University of Delaware Athletic Fund season-ticket tariff have dampened their enthusiasm.

“There’s a group of eight of us,” says Brian Raughley, “and one guy was ready to give up his ticket last year.”

That’s partly because Delaware is coming off two dreadful 4-7 years—the first back-to-back losing seasons since 1939—and a six-year postseason drought. One has to go back to 2010, when K.C. Keeler led the Hens to the FCS Championship Game, to relive some of that former Blue-and-Gold glory.

Asked about the slump, Rocco says, “As a coach, I’m always trying to identify problems without attaching blame. A number of things needed attention, including player development.”

Improving this area has been an early focus of his tenure, and seven months in, Rocco sounds upbeat.

“Things are going well. We’re off to a good start,” he says.

His boss agrees.

“He’s done all of the right things so far,” says Rawak. “Rocco’s done a tremendous job and I’m excited about the future.”

As for Brian and Sarah Raughley’s pessimistic box-seat companion?

“He decided to stick it out one more year after Coach Rocco was hired,” says Brian Raughley.

Four Coaches in 62 Years

Delaware football has a storied history that includes national championships, Hall of Fame coaches, NFL standouts and an enthusiastic fan base.

UD accumulated six national titles between 1946 and 2003, and is one of only two schools in the country to have three consecutive coaches enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame: Bill Murray, David M. Nelson (who instituted UD’s famous Wing-T offense and gave Delaware the iconic Michigan-style “winged” helmet), and the now-legendary Harold “Tubby” Raymond, who retired in 2001.

When Keeler took over in 2002—only the fourth head man in 62 years—he brought with him a new offensive philosophy and installed a no-huddle, spread offense in place of the Wing-T.

He took Delaware to its last national championship – its first ever in Division I-AA—in 2003, but his teams lacked consistency over an 11-year tenure. Despite being given a 10-year contract extension in 2008, Keeler and UD parted ways after the 2012 season, when the Hens finished 5-6.

Rocco has made some changes of his own, the most significant being the installation of a 3-4 defense. This alignment dates to his stint as linebacker and special teams coach with the New York Jets in 2000.

He has stuck with the 3-4 because, he says, the extra linebackers add versatility and more depth on special teams. Also, he says, “it’s very hard to recruit defensive linemen at the CAA level.”

Former Concord High standout Grant Roberts, a senior defensive lineman with extensive game experience for the Hens, figures prominently in the new defense. Despite having to adjust to the new coaching staff and a new defense, the Wilmington native expects a big debut for the ‘17 Hens. “We expect to win. We all expect to be successful,” he says.

Roberts, who has 48 tackles (27 solo) to his credit entering his final season, would love to end his college career as a champion, but he isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“Our focus is first getting back to a winning season,” he says.

At Liberty and Richmond, Rocco, 57, never had a losing season. Photo Moonloop Photography

When Dave Brock became head coach in 2013, Roberts says, “Everyone was excited and there was a strong vibe going into the future.” But Brock managed just one winning season, and was fired midway through his fourth year. The Hens were 2-4 at the time, en route to another 4-7 finish.

Delaware’s football family is a tight-knit one, and people are loath to criticize Brock for the team’s downturn.

“Coach Brock was great,” Roberts insists.

But things clearly weren’t working and a change of direction was needed, so Brock’s firing wasn’t a surprise.

Roberts is focused on moving forward. “There were definitely some tough games—some of which we should’ve won – but … we had a talented roster even though things didn’t work out.”

Rocco admits the challenge of rebuilding Delaware’s program was one thing that drew him here.

“The biggest challenge was changing the culture and the expectations of the program,” he says. “Delaware lacked a unifying, confident culture among its student-athletes. They didn’t believe they could win.”

Rawak and Rocco are out to change that, and both understand they are “in this thing together.”

“Rebuilding this program,” says Rocco, “is truly a team effort. No one coach can change a culture alone.”

The Hens lost just three starters to graduation, so he sees a solid foundation on which to build.

“We have the right people at the right time,” he says. “I have confidence we can win.”

Rocco enjoyed immediate success at both Liberty University and at Richmond, where he turned a 3-8 team into one with an 8-3 record and a share of the CAA title in a single season.

That turnaround is partly why expectations are high that UD will return to its winning ways this season. It’s also a major reason why Chrissi Rawak hired Rocco.

Immediate Impact

Rawak was executive senior associate athletic director for the University of Michigan when she was hired as the new AD by first-year Delaware President Denis Assanis last May. She wasted no time in making her presence felt.

A month after firing Brock, Rawak announced that, starting this year, the university would reverse the unpopular policy of requiring a donation to the UD Athletic Fund with most season ticket purchases. The policy, begun in 2011, helped boost UDAF coffers but alienated fans and contributed to a drastic reduction in both season ticket sales and attendance.

Then, in December, Rawak made what may be her most important move as AD to date: hiring Huntingdon, Pa., native Rocco as the new head coach.

Rocco was identified as a candidate early on and has an impressive résumé: in compiling a 90-42 record that includes six conference titles, he garnered four conference Coach of the Year honors and was a national FCS Coach of the Year finalist five times.

Rocco understands and appreciates Delaware football’s tradition, and he hopes to return the program to national prominence. He has his eyes set first on a conference championship. 

“If you’re competing for a conference championship at the CAA level, then you are nationally relevant,” he says. Eight wins would likely get the Hens into the postseason.

The new season begins in Newark on Aug. 31, against Delaware State. While recognizing there are several storylines that will have people talking in the fall—playing defending national FCS champs James Madison (Sept. 30) and Richmond (Oct. 21), both at home—the most important game for Rocco is DSU, “because it’s the next one up on the schedule.”

First Recruiting Class

“Success,” says Rocco, “also comes from identifying, recruiting and developing talent.” He has accomplished that at his other posts, and as a result his teams have won consistently.

At UD, after getting his staff in place, he focused on his first recruitment class, ensuring that the right student-athletes were being brought into the program.

His approach is, first, “to recruit character.” He and his staff look for young people with ambition, who want to succeed both as student-athletes and at life. “We care about our student-athletes as people—about their success on and off the field,” the head coach says.

“They need to be goal-oriented and highly-motivated,” he adds.

He is excited about his inaugural class, announced in late January.

“We recruited extraordinarily well despite a late start and new staff,” he says, noting the process was facilitated by the fact that the coaches themselves were willing to take a big risk on the program. “The families appreciated that,” says Rocco.

Delaware offered scholarships to 15 players; 14 accepted, marking Rocco’s highest success rate to date. Two players who had previously committed to Richmond changed their minds when Rocco left, and followed him to UD.

Rocco’s first group of incoming freshmen includes four wide receivers, a running back, a tight end, a defensive end, a defensive lineman, a defensive back, a linebacker, three offensive linemen and a quarterback.

That group includes offensive lineman Mickey Henry, a Wilmington native out of St. Elizabeth’s, and standout quarterback Nolan Henderson, of two-time Division I state champion Smyrna. The MVP of the annual Blue-Gold Game in June, Henderson holds many state records, including touchdown passes in a career—105.

He adds additional depth at quarterback, following the off-season transfer of J.P. Caruso from Appalachian State. Caruso was expected to compete for the top job with Joe Walker, Delaware’s starting quarterback the past two seasons. Rocco hadn’t decided going into camp in July who his starter would be.

“It’s all about who gives us the best chance to win,” Rocco told The Wilmington News Journal.

Brothers in Arms 

Another position where the Hens enjoy some depth is linebacker, thanks in part to brothers Troy and Colby Reeder, former standouts at Salesianum School. Both are former Delaware Defensive Players of the Year—Troy in 2013, Colby in 2015—and were heavily recruited.

Troy Reeder, 22, went to Penn State, where he started at linebacker as a red-shirt freshman, racking up 67 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.

Colby, 20, followed in the footsteps of their father, former Wing-T fullback Dan Reeder, and enrolled at Delaware. (Dan Reeder is 12th on UD’s career rushing list, with 2,067 yards gained between 1982 and 1984; he later played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

The Reeder brothers were reunited last year when Troy transferred to UD to be with his younger brother. Troy doesn’t regret the decision. He says he and Colby have always been very close and bring out the best in each other. Playing college ball together was something the pair had dreamed of from the time they were little.

Rocco, who himself played linebacker for the Nittany Lions (1979-80) before finishing up at Wake Forest, has high praise for the Reeders.

“They’re doing really exciting work, they’re good role models,” Rocco says. “Troy is exactly what you’re looking for in a football player.”

Troy, a captain of this year’s squad, is excited to be home and starting a new season

“There’s no pressure on the players at all,” he says. “Everyone knows what this team is capable of and that we underachieved last year.”

Colby, who was redshirted his freshman year due to injury, is now healthy and ready to compete for a starting job. “I expect to see significant playing time this year,” he says.

Colby admits to some friendly competition between the brothers in the weight room, but that’s where any sibling rivalry ends. On the field, the more experienced Troy “helps me out a lot, and we work together well,” says Colby.

The Old Guard

For long-time fans, the Reeders may evoke memories of two other well-known Blue Hen brothers—Michael and Joseph Purzycki.

Mike Purzycki (Class of ’67), a standout wide receiver who set multiple records at Delaware, including becoming UD’s first-ever 1,000-career yard receiver, was elected Mayor of Wilmington last November.

Younger brother Joe (Class of ’70), recruited by Tubby Raymond, was an All-America defensive back who recorded a then-record nine interceptions in 1969, his senior year. He returned to UD as a defensive backfield coach under Raymond in 1978, a year before the Hens took the Division II title.

Joe Purzycki was on the search committee that hired Rawak. She, in turn, asked Purzycki, as well as former NFL quarterbacks Rich Gannon and Scott Brunner, for their input when seeking Brock’s replacement.

Rocco says he’s received strong support from Gannon, Brunner, both Purzyckis and others. “They’ve all been great,” he says. “They genuinely care and want what’s best for Delaware.”

Joe Purzycki, whose deep love for UD football is palpable, says of the new head coach, “Rocco is a good fit for UD. He’s cut from the same mold as earlier Delaware coaches. A football coach is who he is.”

Purzycki is impressed with Rocco’s winning record and the turnaround he effected at Richmond. A former college head coach himself (DSU, JMU), Purzycki knows the effort that requires.

Just as impressive, says Purzycki, was that during the search, “everyone who had coached either for or against Rocco over the years had nothing but the highest praise for him.”

“He’s worked for some of the best coaches in the business,” he adds, including former Jets Head Coach Al Groh, and Tom Coughlin, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles. 

“You can’t be surrounded by such talent and not have some of it rub off on you,” says Purzycki.

If Rocco is feeling any pressure to produce results immediately, he doesn’t let on.

“It’s hard to put a time line on the rebuilding project, but I expect this year’s team to be competitive,” he reaffirms, sounding cautiously optimistic yet enthusiastic about the year ahead.

“You can’t just jam a program into a model and be successful—things need massaging,” he says.

When announcing the hiring in December, Rawak said Rocco’s impact would be felt immediately, but she also recognizes it takes time to build programs. She insists she hasn’t given Rocco a timetable for markedly improved on-the-field performance. But, she says, “When we step on the field, we play to win.”

While acknowledging that the record at the end of the 2107 season will be important, she says she also deeply values the process needed to get to where UD wants to be.

“There is always lots to learn, and the focus is on always getting better,” she says.

For their part, the players—the most important part of the process—are optimistic.

“Something really special is happening,” says Troy Reeder. “The players are buying into [Rocco’s] philosophy of winning each day, one day at a time.”

Blue Hen fans hope the captain is right.


Delaware Football Begins Official Practice Friday Under Direction of First-Year Head Coach Danny Rocco
By Delaware Athletics
Jul 28, 2017

NEWARK, Del. -- First-year University of Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco opened his first preseason camp with the Blue Hens as UD kicked off its official practice schedule Friday afternoon on the Delaware Practice Fields.

Rocco will lead the Blue Hens through a variety of practice and conditioning drills, as well as several scrimmages, over the next five weeks in preparation for the season opener set for Thursday, Aug. 31 against Delaware State at 7 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.

Delaware, which was picked fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Poll announced on Tuesday, returns 19 starters as the Blue Hens kick off a season full of promise and postseason aspirations. UD returns nine starters on offense, including center Brody Kern who earned Preseason All-CAA honors. The Blue Hen defense, anchored by all-conference picks Charles Bell and Bilal Nichols, features 10 returning starters from a group that ranked sixth in the league in total defense a year ago.

“It's exciting to get out here,” Rocco said following the season's first practice. “We've waited a long time to get back into camp, and I thought our guys reported to camp in good shape and had a really good summer. There was a lot of energy out here today. There's a lot of things we're going to have to do better, but I felt like they came out here to work hard so I'm excited about where we are moving into camp.

“A lot of guys caught my attention today. It's all about our ability to become a more consistent football team and our ability to finish better. Our offense and defense took turns going after each other today, and I'll look forward to studying the film tonight.”

Delaware returns to the practice fields on Saturday from 8:45 a.m. to 11 a.m., before practicing from 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Sunday. Monday through Friday of next week will all feature practices from 8:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. Further practice times and scrimmages, which are open to the public, will be announced on www.bluehens.com.


The 10 best stadiums to visit in FCS football (according to fans)
Anthony Chiusano | NCAA.com
Jul 24, 2017 

When college football fans talk about their stadiums, the debate can get heated. What makes one place better than another depends on who you ask. Is it large numbers and deafening noise, or smaller, more "homey" crowds with just as much enthusiasm? Is it tradition and history, or renovations and unique, modern features? Fortunately, the FCS accomodates all tastes with a variety of must-see stadiums. Each provides a different gameday experience.

We asked the question on Facebook and Twitter of football fans. Here's what our commenters picked as some of the best venues in the FCS, starting with the best JMU:

Bridgeforth Stadium | James Madison

James Madison Athletics

Fans get it all when they go to Bridgeforth Stadium; a good product on the field, spacious seating and club-level amenities, a spirited crowd and one of the nation's top marching bands.

The Dukes captured the 2016 national championship, which should make for even more excitement — and more purple and yellow streamers flying — in the stadium this year.

Franklin Field | Penn

Penn Football 

Several Ivy League schools received shoutouts, including Yale, Harvard and Penn. The Quakers' Franklin Field gets the nod due to its unrivaled history.

The multi-purpose stadium, also used for track & field (it's home to the Penn Relays), first opened in 1895 and is the oldest stadium still hosting NCAA football. Franklin Field was renovated in 1922 and now can hold more than 50,000 spectators. The U-shaped stadium seating also allows fans to catch a glimpse at the Philadelphia skyline.

Franklin Field holds the honor of being the first FCS stadium to ever host ESPN's College GameDay back in 2002 when Penn faced Ivy League rival Harvard. The Quakers defeated the Crimson to win that year's conference title.

Roos Field | Eastern Washington

James Snook | USA TODAY Sports Images

Roos Field is home to one of just five non-green playing surfaces in Division I football. Known as the "Inferno," Eastern Washington's signature red turf field was introduced in 2010. Eastern Washington has won five conference championships in seven years since the turf was installed.

The mixture of uniqueness and success has made Cheney, Washington a hot spot for FCS fans the past few years. The stadium is on the smaller side, seating just 8,700, but the atmosphere is one of the Big Sky's best.

Come for the red turf and stay for the top-three scoring offense in the nation (42.4 points per game in 2016).

UNI-Dome | Northern Iowa

UNI Athletics

Northern Iowa had an off year in 2016, but the UNI-Dome is still one of the top destinations to visit. The Dome debuted in 1974 but has been revamped multiple times over the decades, most recently in 2009 when new turf was laid.

From the university's bizarre "Interlude dance" tradition right before the second half to its active tailgating scene, the UNI-Dome presents one of the best fan atmospheres in FCS. Its capacity during football games is 16,324.

Stambaugh Stadium | Youngstown State

Youngstown State Athletics

Another site steeped in tradition, Stambaugh Stadium is home to the four-time national champion Youngstown State Penguins. Known as the "Ice Castle," the stadium is the city's tallest landmark and has the largest capacity in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (20,630).

Stambaugh Stadium first opened in 1982. Since then, the Penguins' home has undergone many renovations, including seat expansion in 1997, new turf in 2002 and a new videoboard in 2015. YSU finished 8-0 on its home turf last season en route to finishing as national runner-up.

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium | South Dakota State

South Dakota State Athletics

South Dakota State moved to Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in 2016 and, according to our commenters, it paid off.

The new digs seats up to 19,300 and features the largest LED videoboard in the FCS (3,100 square feet). The new turf field and improved facilities for the student-athletes came with the stadium.

Amidst all the traditional sites on this list, SDSU's Dykhouse Stadium is a fresh face.

Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium | Jacksonville State

Jacksonville State Athletics

Alabama and Auburn aren't the only schools that draw a crowd in Alabama. Burgess-Snow Field is a popular destination for students and fans in the northern part of the state. The stadium holds 24,000 and can be deafening on gameday with its dedicated fanbase and top-notch marching band.

JSU has earned at least a share of three of the last five conference titles and was national runner-up in 2015, which has only heightened the game-time atmosphere the past few years.

Cowboy Stadium | McNeese

McNeese Athletics

"The Hole" at McNeese State has developed into the most electric atmosphere within the Southland Conference, holding a capacity of more than 17,000 and recording attendance highs upwards of 20,000 since its debut in 1965.

Situated in Louisiana, the pregame tailgating scene is a can't-miss experience that leads into a pleasant time inside the stadium come game time. Cowboy Stadium underwent luxury seating renovations in 1998 and received a new scoreboard and sound system in 2005.

Fargodome | North Dakota State

North Dakota State Athletics 

The Fargodome. Of course.

Fans probably won't find a consistently louder place than the home of the Bison, who won five straight championships from 2010-15. With this decade's handful of championships, the crowds create one of the best atmospheres in the nation for any level of football. 

The show gets started early with the program's signature tunnel walk where the stadium's lights are turned off and the team enters to the tune of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck." The dome holds about 19,000 spectators and was renovated last year with the addition of new HD videoboards.

Washington-Grizzly Stadium | Montana

Montana Athletics

While hundreds of fans sided with the Fargodome, the consensus winner for best football stadium across the FCS — at least among our social media commenters — appears to be the University of Montana's Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The Grizzlies are among the tops in attendance every year and drew more fans than 44 FBS-level programs in 2015. The stadium holds more than 25,000 spectators, with seating around the entire field in Missoula, Montana. 

The homefield advantage is no joke, either. NFL quarterbacks Tony Romo and Carson Wentz have both recalled the stadium as one of the harshest road sites they played at while at Eastern Illinois and North Dakota State, respectively.

From the crowd's size and enthusiasm to the surroundings, Washington-Grizzly Stadium is in the top class of FCS destinations.


Former Fightin' Blue Hens great Brett Veach has been promoted to General Manager of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs:

7/10/17 - Delaware Football News

Veach previously served as the Chiefs Co-Director of Player PersonnelChairman
and CEO Clark Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs announced on Monday that 
the club has named Brett Veach the seventh General Manager in franchise 
history. “After a comprehensive search process, I am pleased to 
announce that we have hired Brett Veach to serve as the next General 
Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs,” Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. 
“Brett has a sharp football mind, a tremendous work ethic and a keen eye
for finding talent. Over the last four seasons he’s played a critical 
role in building our football team. I look forward to working with him 
to continue to build on the strong foundation we have in place.” Veach enters his first season as an NFL General Manager and his 11th
year in the National Football League. He will report directly to Hunt 
on all player personnel matters. Prior to being elevated, he previously 
served as the Chiefs Co-Director of Player Personnel. 

“My family and I would like to extend our gratitude to Clark and the Hunt family 
for this incredible opportunity,” Veach said. “I am humbled and honored 
to serve as the General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the last
four seasons I’ve had the privilege to work alongside Andy Reid, John 
Dorsey and a great group of coaches and personnel staff. Together, we 
built a strong foundation of players that have helped us sustain success
on the field. I’m looking forward to continuing our progress as we head
into 2017.”

Veach is entering his fifth season with the Chiefs 
after originally joining the club in 2013. He was promoted to 
Co-Director of Player Personnel prior to the 2015 season after serving 
two seasons as the club’s Pro and College Personnel Analyst (2013-14). 
He joined the Chiefs after spending six years with the Philadelphia 
Eagles (2007-12). The Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania, native, served as
a Southeast Regional Scout (2011-12) after originally joining 
Philadelphia’s Player Personnel Department as a Pro and College Scout in
2010. Prior to entering the scouting department, Veach was the 
Assistant to Head Coach Andy Reid for three seasons (2007-09). 

Before joining the Eagles, Veach was the Supervisor of Intercollegiate Athletic
Events at his alma mater, the University of Delaware (2005-06). He was a
four-year letterman as a wide receiver for the Blue Hens, catching 99 
passes for 1,470 yards (14.8 avg.). He left Delaware as the school’s 
all-time leader in kickoff return yards with 1,558 yards. 

Veach earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and a 
master’s degree in education from Delaware. Along the way, he earned 
Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic honors three times during his 
collegiate career. He was a standout running back for Mt. Carmel High 
School where he was named state player of the year in 1996 and was a 
two-time all-state selection. He was also selected to participate in the
Big 33 game between the top high school players from Pennsylvania and 
Ohio. The Chiefs will hold a formal press conference to introduce Veach as the club’s General Manager on Monday, July 24.


Former Blue Hen Football Star Promoting bone marrow donation awareness is a life's passion for the Now Detroit Lions linebacker.

07/10/17 - ESPN MAGAZINE

Michael Rothstein ESPN Staff Writer 

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Paul Worrilow pulled on his University of Delaware football jersey and wanted to compete. Like the rest of his teammates, he tried to put up as many numbers as possible. But this had nothing to do with football. This was far more important. This was about lives, about helping those who had no other options.

The Blue Hens football team had gathered in the Trabant University Center trying to sign people up for the “Be The Match” bone marrow donation registry -- a teamwide community service project started by their coach, K.C. Keeler. They went from table to table, explaining the process even though none of them had gone through it. They went through an educational course, saw how simple joining the registry was and tried to sign up as many people as possible.

That first year, Keeler and his daughter were the first two people to undergo the testing process when the football program got involved. It consisted of paperwork and the swabbing of the inside of the cheek for cells, which took about 15 minutes. By the second year, Worrilow, now a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, had his own story to tell.

Worrilow understood the odds. Around 16 million members are in the “Be The Match” registry, and about 1 in every 430 potential donors in the United States ends up both being a match and donating to a patient. It was far from guaranteed when he had his cheek swabbed as part of Delaware’s first “Be The Match” drive in 2011 that he would become a donor.

Then, a few months later, came the call. If he was still willing, he needed to take a physical to make sure he was the ideal donor for a 23-year-old woman with leukemia. The donation would be anonymous.
Before he became an NFL player, linebacker Paul Worrilow donated bone marrow as part of the "Be The Match" campaign. Tim Warner/Getty Images

“He was very willing,” said Annie Landen, the specialist at “Be The Match” who worked with Worrilow. “He was excited, and I feel like he never wavered from that very first phone call that he was going to go forward and do this.”

Worrilow’s enthusiasm was refreshing for Landen. Mary Halet, the director of donor services at “Be The Match,” said about half the time they have a potential match, the possible donor ends up not working out because of personal reticence or because their medical situation has changed, altering their status.

Those calls to patients, Halet said, are the toughest -- when the excitement of a potential donor is brought down with a complication or change. Worrilow never considered this. He was committed. He was in.

“For the donor, it’s pretty easy. It’s mindless,” Worrilow said. “It’s not painful. It’s not taxing to you at all. It’s a thing that over the years, I try to stress when I talk about this. It’s so easy for the donor.

“It’s such a little cost to you, and it’s a no-brainer.”
'Life and death'

The Delaware football team became involved with “Be The Match” because of Keeler’s friendship with Villanova football coach Andy Talley, who embraced the issue and wanted to broaden the program. So he reached out to Keeler, who was immediately interested.

Keeler did this not knowing that months earlier, Worrilow had read a story about a Villanova athlete donating bone marrow. Worrilow thought it was a cool story. When Keeler spoke to his team about their new teamwide community service activity, Worrilow remembered the article. He knew he’d sign up as soon as he could.

Keeler left that decision to his individual players, with one caveat: If they signed up, they were committed to donating, even if it meant missing a football game.

“That’s what I told our kids,” said Keeler, now the head coach at Sam Houston State, where he runs another “Be The Match” drive. “There’s a chance you might get called when we’re playing a game. This is life and death. We’re not going to choose a football game over somebody’s life. So just be aware, if you do sign up, and I’m signing up, I’m doing it myself, if you do decide to sign up, just be aware if you get called during the season and you have to miss a game, you’re going to miss a game.”

It ended up not being an issue. Worrilow matched during the spring of 2011 and in many ways was the perfect donor. Halet said transplant centers prefer young men to any other donors because males typically have larger body mass than women -- meaning more stem cells are produced. Also, pregnancy is not a factor. Younger people also have a more robust immune system, part of the reason the registry cuts off donations at age 60.

There are other restrictions, too, including heart and lung health, prior cancer diagnoses and having suffered a series of concussions. Concussions are an issue because of the drug administered in injections to stimulate cells. Halet said there have been some clinical experiences of people with concussion histories suffering brain bleeds as a side effect of the drug.

“Be The Match,” Halet said, has not experienced that, but to be safe, they’ve taken added precautions.

Worrilow had none of these concerns.
'Nothing cooler'

When Worrilow received the call from Landen, it began a process that required multiple phone calls, visits to hospitals for injections and then donation. Every potential donor who reaches the stage Worrilow did has a liaison to help them through the process.

The initial conversation between the two gauged Worrilow’s interest in continuing with the process, followed by a questionnaire to make sure his health hadn’t changed and then an informational session so he could understand what he was going to have to do.

Next, Worrilow had to take a physical exam and set up his appointments for a series of five injections of Filgrastim leading up to his donation date. The injections of Filgrastim stimulated more growth in the blood stem cells, which would be filtered out during donation day.

During the process, Landen and Worrilow spoke between 15-20 times, including one call the day before the donation and one a couple of days after to make sure everything was going well. Landen, who is in Connecticut, had no connection to Worrilow before their initial conversation. Never met him. Still hasn’t. But occasionally, she’ll follow his career.

On donation day, there are two types of bone marrow donation: Liquid marrow donation, which requires needles to take liquid marrow out of the pelvis, and the more common peripheral-blood-stem-cell donation, which is the procedure used on Worrilow. On the day of the donation at Christiana Care in Delaware, Worrilow sat with needles coming out of both arms for a six-hour apheresis session. This sent blood out of one arm, through a machine that removed the stem cells, and then deposited his blood through another tube into his other arm. He was home the same day. Donors are expected to have some discomfort for a few days after and then be fine.

For those getting the stem cells or marrow, it could be life-saving, although statistics of survival rates depend on the age and health of the recipient and the type of disease they are fighting.

“I was surprised how it was for me, and then, just, I don’t know anything that happened after, but you just hope for the best,” Worrilow said. “The cool part that has stemmed from that is that I read somebody’s article that did it, and I’ve been able to be interviewed and do articles about it.

“I’ve met people who have read posts or articles about my situation and my donation and they went and joined. There’s nothing cooler than that for the donor.”
Inspiring others

When Worrilow played in Atlanta, he would occasionally speak about his experience. He put together a team for a 5K run to raise money for “Be The Match” and spoke at the race. Conversations about “Be The Match” would come up every couple of weeks. It could happen after a Falcons game in the parking lot or in an autograph line during training camp. The conversation would start about the Falcons.

It would then veer toward what he did as a college student, not knowing he’d make the NFL, just trying to help. The people he’d speak with would tell their stories, either about being a donor or how his experience got them to join the registry. That, Worrilow said, affected him. Whatever happened on the field goes away in those moments, because those conversations, “that’s a real thing.”

“Your ability to help, just somebody you don’t even know, that’s a cool aspect,” Worrilow said. “Each person has that within them, to help somebody with blood cancer. Just a lot of people don’t know that.”

That’s what Worrilow is trying to fix. Worrilow never had cancer. He said he hasn’t had anyone in his family suffer from the disease. He just did this because he wanted to help. And he still does -- now by promoting awareness. He’s still on the registry, too, in case he ends up with another match.

He said he’d do it again in a second.


Delaware Athletics Partnering with AstroTurf® to Upgrade Delaware Stadium, Rullo Stadium
By Delaware Athletics
Jun 28, 2017

Portions of Press Release Courtesy of AstroTurf®

NEWARK, Del. – University of Delaware Athletics is upgrading two of its most recognizable athletic fields and has chosen AstroTurf® for the makeover.

Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium, home of the UD football and men's and women's lacrosse teams, and Fred P. Rullo Stadium, home of the 2016 NCAA champion Blue Hen field hockey squad, are both having state-of-the-art AstroTurf surfaces installed this summer, and each venue is getting a premium turf designed for optimum performance in the sport of record.

Delaware Stadium will soon receive a playing surface made of RootZone 3D3 Blend, AstroTurf's signature football product. This artificial turf system utilizes multiple specialized fibers including AstroTurf's patented RootZone, a sub-layer that stabilizes infill while improving safety, playability, and durability.

Installation is already underway at Rullo Stadium, where the AstroTurf System 90 playing surface is being laid down. This premium field hockey product combines the traditional knitted nylon top cloth with a 3/8th inch Armacell pad.

AstroTurf is recognized as the Official Artificial Surface Provider of both USA Field Hockey and the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, and its playing surfaces have long been regarded as the unequivocal standard for field hockey performance due to their consistent ball roll, durability, and low maintenance.

“We keep coming back to AstroTurf because there's simply no comparison among their industry peers,” said Joe Shirley, UD senior associate AD of facilities, operations and capital projects. “The University of Delaware has installed a new baseball playing surface (Bob Hannah Stadium), an indoor practice facility (Delaware Field House), and several multi-use practice fields over the past four years. Each time we get an excellent playing surface, engineered for the demands of the sport, and tailored for our specific project needs.”

UD has also recently installed AstroTurf surfaces on its football practice fields and intramural grounds. The two new surfaces will be fully integrated into the athletic campus by the end of summer.

Sports Construction Management, a certified AstroTurf distributor, is managing installation of both new fields. The schedule calls for Rullo Stadium to be completed by the end of July, and removal of the old surface at Delaware Stadium has begun with the new playing field slated to be ready before football season kicks off.

About AstroTurf®

For athletes and sport enthusiasts, AstroTurf® has redefined the way the game is played. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit AstroTurf's newly redesigned website at www.astroturf.com.


Delaware Football Sets 2017 Homecoming, P&F Weekend Dates; Season Tickets Now On Sale
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 06/21/2017

NEWARK, Del. -- October dates for Homecoming and Parents & Family Weekend will highlight an exciting 2017 home schedule for the University of Delaware football team this fall at Delaware Stadium.

The University announced Wednesday that Parents & Family Weekend will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14 vs. William & Mary and Homecoming festivities will be held the following week on Saturday, Oct. 21 vs. Richmond. 

In addition, UD Athletics also announced that Delaware Day will be held during the season opener on Thursday, Aug. 31 vs. Delaware State, High School Band Day will take place on Saturday, Sept. 16 vs. Cornell, and Twirler Day will be held on Oct. 14. The date for Delaware's annual Hall of Fame Weekend has been set for Saturday, Sept. 30.

Game times have also tentatively been set for the six home games this season: 

Aug. 31 vs. Delaware State, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Cornell, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. James Madison, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. William & Mary, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Richmond, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 vs. Albany, 3:30 p.m.

All times are subject to change due to conference broadcast schedules that will be announced this summer.

For those looking to secure their seats for Blue Hen football action this fall, season packages are now on sale and start as low as just $79. Required donations have been removed from sections A through N and special packages are available for alumni, UD parents, and families via the Family Five Pack which includes two adults and three youth tickets for all six games for just $199. Click here for the 2017 Delaware football seating chart.

In addition, University of Delaware faculty and staff receive a 20 percent discount on season tickets in the prime reserved, preferred reserved and sideline reserved sections, as well as the Family 5 Pack.

Season ticket members enjoy up to 28 percent savings off single game prices, and have access to exclusive parking options and savings. They also receive priority access to away games and postseason tickets, invitations to exclusive season ticket member events throughout the year, a Season Ticket Member Benefits Card featuring discounts and savings, and complimentary admission to select UD sporting events throughout the year.

To purchase Delaware football season tickets today, click here or call 302-831-4493.


Delaware Football Announces Addition of Two NCAA FBS Transfers to 2017 Squad

Courtesy of bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. -- First-year University of Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco has announced the addition of two NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision transfers who have enrolled at UD and will be eligible immediately for the upcoming 2017 season.

The incoming transfers are 6-1, 205 lb. quarterback J.P. Caruso (at left), who comes to Delaware from Appalachian State, and 6-6, 300 lb. offensive lineman Noah Beh (below right) from Penn State.

“We are excited about the addition of these two outstanding student-athletes to our football program,” said Rocco, who will begin drills on July 27 in preparation for the 2017 season opener - and his Delaware coaching debut - Aug. 31 vs. Delaware State at Delaware Stadium. “With the addition of J.P. and Noah, we continues to create depth at the quarterback and offensive line positions. Both are very competitive young men who will elevate the competition in those areas.”

Caruso, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (Palm Beach Gardens HS) attended Sun Belt Conference power Appalachian State for three seasons and earned his business management degree this past spring. He will enroll in Delaware's MBA program and will have two years of eligibility with the Blue Hens.

He redshirted as a true freshman in 2014, saw action in five games and threw for 109 yards and two touchdowns behind starter Taylor Lamb in 2015, and played in nine games as a backup to Lamb in 2016, completing all six of his passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown.

The Mountaineers went 11-2 and defeated Ohio University in the Camelia Bowl in 2015 and went 10-3 and downed Toledo in the Camelia Bowl in 2016 for head coach Scott Satterfield.

A native of Moscow, Pa. (Scranton Prep High School), Beh sat out as a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, played in 13 games as a backup offensive lineman in 2015, and did not see game action during the 2016 campaign.

Penn State went 7-6 and defeated Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2014, went 7-6 and lost to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2015, and went 11-3 and lost to USC in the Rose Bowl in 2016, all under head coach James Franklin.

Beh, who will have two years of eligibility at Delaware, was an All-State selection at Scranton Prep as a two-way lineman and led the team to an undefeated season in 2013.

He was rated a three-star prospect and a Top 20 recruit in Pennsylvania by ESPN, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. He ranked as a Top 50 offensive tackle nationally by three of the four national recruiting services.


Delaware to Host ECAC Division III Football Fest Nov. 17-19 at Delaware Stadium

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release Courtesy of the ECAC
Release: 06/01/2017

DANBURY, Conn. - The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) announced today the sites of the next two editions of the Division III Football Bowl Championships (DIII Football Fest).

The University of Delaware will host the event in 2017 at Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium, while 2018 will see DIII Football Fest return to the University of Pennsylvania.

Entering its third year, DIII Football Fest features the best ECAC DIII football teams competing in a series of bowl games at a neutral site over a multiple-day span. Since it was first held in 2015, the event has become one of the Conference's marquee championship events.

The ECAC will once again partner with Pack Network to bring viewers a live selection show and full-game broadcasts in 2017 and 2018.

The 2017 event will be held Nov. 17-19 at Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium on the campus of the University of Delaware. The 22,000-seat stadium is the second largest in the Colonial Athletic Association and one of the largest in the nation in FCS football.

In 2002, the Delaware Stadium playing surface was dedicated as Tubby Raymond Field, recognizing Delaware's College Football Hall of Fame head coach who retired following the 2001 season after compiling 300 victories in 36 seasons.

"On behalf of the University of Delaware and the Newark community, we are excited to host the ECAC Division III Football Fest here at Delaware Stadium this coming November," said Delaware Director of Athletics and Recreation Services Chrissi Rawak. "We are honored to be selected to host some of the top football teams and student-athletes in the country for this one-of-a-kind event. We wish all the teams the best as they work towards this goal and invite everyone to come out and support them in what should be another great event and a fun atmosphere at Delaware Stadium."

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Delaware for 2017 and Penn for 2018. Both campuses boast top-notch facilities that add to the overall experience for our student-athletes. Last year the staff at Penn was phenomenal and we know we'll have the same type of service with the crew from Delaware," said ECAC Vice President/CFO John Rollins.

In 2018, DIII Football Fest will be back at historic Franklin Field for another epic weekend of football beginning Nov. 16.

"The ECAC hosted the first DIII Football Fest in 2015 to enhance the postseason experience and the momentum continues to build," Rollins elaborated. "We are excited to continue relationships with returning partners and explore new sponsorship opportunities, while also working with our membership to ensure that cost of participation will not be a limiting factor. We are fired up to host another first-class event for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans."


University of Delaware Football Closes Out Successful Spring with Annual Blue-White Game

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 05/06/2017

NEWARK, Del. -- New University of Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco came away pleased with his first Blue-White Spring Game experience Saturday evening at Delaware Stadium as the Blue Hens closed out a successful spring with the annual exhibition matchup.

An appreciative crowd of 3,000 was on hand to check out the new look Blue Hens and see the progress that has been made over the last month in preparation for the 2017 season.

Using a modified scoring system to that gives points to the offense for touchdowns, field goals and first downs and credits the defense for takeaways, sacks, tackles for loss, and forcing punts, the White (defense) came away with a 53-29 victory the Blue (offense) in the 70-minute scrimmage that featured 12-minute quarters with a running clock.

The game featured four conventional scoring plays as the Blue team got on the board first on a 24-yard touchdown pass from rising junior quarterback Joe Walker to junior tight end Charles Scarff (#85 above) with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

Scarff, a second-year transfer from Rutgers, used his 6-5, 270 lb. frame to go up high and grab the ball away from a White defender in the back of the end zone.

The White team got on the board with a defensive touchdown in the final quarter as rising senior linebacker Anthony Jackson (at right) picked off an interception and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown down the right sideline.

The Blue team also got a 43-yard field goal from redshirt freshman Mark Bonnie in the fourth quarter and a 15-yard scoring pass from redshirt sophomore Pat Kehoe to freshman Gene Coleman II in the final minute of play.

“We had an opportunity to get some live work in, play an up-tempo game at a physical pace, and had the opportunity to evaluate a lot of players,” said Rocco. “And that is the real upside to a spring game. I would have liked to see us execute better offensively, have more tempo, and be more productive, but we did some good things today and some guys stepped up and some new names and faces made some plays. The defense ruled the day but the offense had its moments. I am really happy to be here and really proud to be their head football coach. I reminded them that we are all in this together and I really believe this group is committed to winning. I had a good feeling tonight.”

The offense picked up 14 first downs and 246 total yards as Walker completed 10 of 20 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown and Kehoe (#12 at left) went 5 of 9 for 60 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman receiver Joey Carter hauled in four passes for 67 yards, Scarff added four catches for 40 yards, and Coleman had two receptions for 35 yards.

“I think I've had a really good spring and I feel more comfortable getting back to tight end,” said Scarff, who played wide receiver a year ago but added 20 lbs. to his frame in the off-season. “Joe (Walker) and I have been developing a good chemistry this spring. Everybody really seems to be on the same page and we've all put in a lot of hard work this spring.”

Defensively, the White team intercepted four passes, had three pass breakups, collected three sacks, and had five other tackles for loss. Jackson, junior linebacker Troy Reeder, junior defensive back Nasir Adderley, and junior defensive back K.C. Hinton all picked off a pass, sophomore defensive end Cam Kitchen posted two sacks, junior defensive end Aaron Donalson had a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass breakup, and three tackles.

Reeder and senior linebacker Larry Spears led the defense with six tackles each while Kitchen and redshirt freshman linebacker Colby Reeder each made five stops.

Rocco spoke to the crowd at halftime and introduced several awards for the spring and named the captains for the 2017 season.

Troy Reeder, senior linebacker Charles Bell, senior running back Wes Hills, and senior center Brody Kern were selected by their teammates to serve as co-captains; Scarff and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Sal Mauro were named the Blue Hen Touchdown Club Most Improved Players; and Reeder and senior defensive Bilal Nichols were named Weight Room Champions for their outstanding performance in the weight room during the spring.

In addition to the team awards, all-time Blue Hen great and longtime National Football League star quarterback Rich Gannon was on hand and was presented with a University of Delaware Alumni Association Wall of Fame outstanding achievement award. Gannon, an All-Pro and NFL Most Valuable Player during his long career, currently is a color commentator on NFL games with CBS TV.
Middle Atlantic Conference Selects Tubby Raymond for Induction into MAC Hall of Fame

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 05/03/2017

ANNVILLE, Pa. -- Legendary University of Delaware football and baseball coach Harold R. “Tubby” Raymond has earned induction into yet another Hall of Fame.

Raymond, 91, who spent 36 years on the sidelines as head football coach and nine more as head baseball coach for the Blue Hens, was among 19 men and women selected as part of the Middle Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame Class of 2017 announced Wednesday. This year's class is the sixth selected.

“We are delighted to announce the 2017 MAC Hall of Fame,” said MAC Executive Director Ken Andrews. “This is an exceptional group that represents the best of the Middle Atlantic Conference. It is an honor to recognize these contributors to the MAC legacy.”

Delaware was a member of the MAC for football from 1958 until 1969 and was affiliated in baseball from 1946 until 1974. Raymond is the second Blue Hen selected to the Hall of Fame, joining former UD Director of Athletics and head football coach David Nelson, who was honored posthumously last year.

The MAC honor represents the fifth Hall of Fame that Raymond has gained induction to, including the College Football Hall of Fame (2003), University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame (2002), the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame (1993), and the Greater Flint (Mich.) Area Sports Hall of Fame.

The MAC holds no formal induction ceremony, but Raymond will be honored at a home Delaware football game this coming fall.

A native of Flint, Mich., Raymond played both football and baseball at the University of Michigan before earning his degree in 1950 and spending a year in the minor leagues with the New York Yankees organization and one year as an assistant coach at the University of Maine.

He joined the Delaware football staff as backfield coach in 1954 and served until 1965 when he succeeded Nelson as head coach of the Blue Hens.

During his legendary career, Raymond won 300 games, was named National Coach of the Year four times, led Delaware to three national championships, 14 Lambert Cup trophies, 16 NCAA playoff appearances, and nine conference titles, including MAC championships in 1966, 1968, and 1969.

As Delaware's head coach for baseball in 1956-65, he led Blue Hen teams to a record of 142-55-3 (.710 winning pct.) and captured MAC titles in 1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1964. He also led the Blue Hens to three NCAA Tournament appearances in 1956, 1960, and 1961.

Joining Raymond in the MAC Hall of Fame 2017 induction class are: Leo Disend, Albright College; Royce Eyer, Lycoming College; Aftan Fisher, Messiah College; Don Johnson, Lebanon Valley College; Irv Johnson, University of Scranton; Adam Knoblauch, Delaware Valley University; Ned McGinley, King's College; Brian O'Keefe, Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus; Heidi Wolfsberger Peoples, Moravian College; Emilie Heck Petrone, Haverford College; Joanne Polakoski, King's College; Kevin Quinn, Saint Joseph's University; Christina Scherwin, Moravian College; Deborah Smuda Williams, Widener University; Randy Sturm, DeSales University; John Wagner, Rider University; James Ward, Gettysburg College; and Hayden Woodworth, Messiah College. 


Delaware Football Opens Spring Practice Apr. 4 Under Danny Rocco Era
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 04/12/2017

NEWARK, Del. - The University of Delaware football program begins a new era this week as the Blue Hens prepare for spring drills under first-year head coach Danny Rocco.

Rocco, who was selected to the UD post back in December after successful stints at Liberty and Richmond over the last 11 seasons, finally gets the chance to see his squad on the field when the Blue Hens open spring drills on Tuesday, Apr. 4, on the UD Practice Fields behind Delaware Field House.

Delaware will take part in 15 practices over the next four weeks leading up to the annual Blue-White Spring Game and Fandemonium on Saturday, May 6 at Delaware Stadium.

The Blue Hens will practice each Tuesday and Thursday from 2:45 until 4:45 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Practices are open to the public.

Below are the individual practice dates:

Tuesday, Apr. 4 - 2:45 p.m.
Thursday, Apr. 6 - 2:45 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 8 - 10:30 a.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 11 - 2:45 p.m.
Thursday, Apr. 13 - 2:45 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 15 - 10:30 a.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 18 - 2:45 p.m.
*Thursday, Apr. 20 - 2:45 p.m.
*Saturday, Apr. 22 - 10:30 a.m.
Downstate Day at Cape Henlopen High School, Lewes, Del., 2-4 p.m. Link
Tuesday, Apr. 25 - 2:45 p.m.
*Thursday, Apr. 27- 2:45 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 29 - 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, May 4 - 2:45 p.m.
Friday, May 5 - 2:45 p.m.
Saturday, May 6 - Blue-White Spring Game, 6 p.m. (Fandemonium, 4-7 p.m.)

*=Practice will include some elements of a scrimmage with officials

Fandemonium VIII will take place on May 6 from 4-7 p.m. in the field directly in front of Delaware Stadium.

Delaware fans of all ages are invited to come out and enjoy an action-packed day with Blue Hens Athletics & Recreation, including a full day of free entertainment and root on the Blue Hens on-field.

The Anchor Buick GMC Fan Zone, located in front of the west main entrance of Delaware Stadium from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., will feature numerous family fun activities including free pony rides, inflatable interactives for all ages, live music, food sampling, giveaways, and more.

MEDIA INFORMATION: Contact Scott Selheimer | selheime@udel.edu | Office: 302-831-8007 | Cell: 302-562-5129

Delaware Athletics Headed to Cape Henlopen HS for 5th Annual Downstate Day Apr. 22
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 03/27/2017

LEWES, Del. -- University of Delaware Athletics will hit the road again next month when the Blue Hens head downstate to Cape Henlopen High School for a fun-filled day of free entertainment, including an interactive fan zone and youth skills sessions with UD student-athletes, on Saturday, April 22.

As part of the fifth annual Downstate Day, Blue Hens of all ages are invited to come out to the Fan Zone from 2-4 p.m. and enjoy inflatable interactives, face painting, bounce houses, music, giveaways, prize drawings, and photo opportunities with everyone’s favorite mascot, YoUDee. The fan zone is free and open to all and no registration is required.

In addition to visiting the Fan Zone, boys and girls 5 to 12 years of age are invited to register in advance to participate in either the free football, soccer, basketball, field hockey or cheerleading skills fun. 

Members of the Delaware football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, field hockey and spirit squads, along with their coaches, will be on-hand to provide sport-specific fun with the registered youth participants for 45 to 60 minutes. No equipment is needed by participants, however, comfortable athletic attire and sneakers are strongly recommended. All youth skills fun registrants will also receive a free, youth sized t-shirt.

Online registration is currently open at www.BlueHens.com/DownstateDay until Wednesday, Apr. 12 at 4:30 p.m. or once the event is filled. Space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis. Day of registration will not be available. 

First-year Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco will also be on hand and will join the student-athletes and other coaches for a post skills session meet and greet and autograph session on the football field, starting at approximately 4 p.m.

For full event details and registration information, click HERE.

Fans should also mark their calendars for the annual Blue Hens Fandemonium VIII that will be held on Saturday, May 6 from 4-7 p.m. at the UD Athletics Complex.

This action-packed day with UD Athletics includes the Select-A-Seat event inside Delaware Stadium and the always-popular Fan Zone with music, food, inflatable interactives, face painting, games, and more. 

The annual Delaware Football Blue-White Delaware spring scrimmage game will take place in Delaware Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. that evening.

Stay tuned to www.BlueHens.com for more details.

MEDIA INFORMATION: Contact Scott Selheimer | selheime@udel.edu | Office: 302-831-8007 | Cell: 302-562-5129


Delaware Football Seniors Continue to Pursue NFL Dreams at Pro Day Event
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 03/09/2017

NEWARK, Del. -- When Connor Bozick walked off the field at Delaware Stadium this past November at the conclusion of the annual Battle of the Blue Hen matchup with rival Villanova, he capped an outstanding career as one of the top offensive linemen in University of Delaware football history.

Just over three months later, Bozick continues to work hard to make sure that his playing days are far from over.

That’s why he was sweating and hustling again Wednesday morning in front of approximately 12 National Football League scouts as Delaware hosted its annual Pro Day at the Delaware Field House.

Bozick, a 6-5, 320 lb. tackle from Severn, Md., was among three former Blue Hen standouts and several other area players who took part in measuring, testing, and on-field drills as part of the annual event that happens on hundreds of campuses this time of the year. He was joined by a pair of 2016 UD teammates in safety Simba Gwashavanhu (below right) and punter Will Stephenson (below left).

The day began with height and weight measurements and testing in the bench press, vertical leap, and broad jump in the Chuck Hall Weight Room inside the Bob Carpenter Center.

The group then headed to the inside turf at Delaware Field House where they went through various speed and agility drills and skills work pertaining to their individual positions. Scouts huddled around with clipboards in hand and stop watches around their necks watching and reporting every move. About 100 family, friends, and teammates were among those watching from the sidelines and in the stands high above the field.

“I expected to come in here and perform well today,” said Bozick, a hotel, restaurant, and institutional management major who was a two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association performer, played in 46 career games, and participated in two post-season all-star games after the 2016 season. “I didn’t expect this many teams (to have scouts there), so that was pretty cool. I have been training for the last couple of months up in Boston and had a plan to come in here and be ready for any scenario. It was almost like preparing for a game and I think I did really well. I hit some consistent numbers in the broad (jump), bench, and vertical (leap) and felt good running and in the position work.”

Gwashavanhu, who recorded 93 tackles in 31 career games for the Hens, also went through drills for the scouts inside DFH and Stephenson, who averaged 41.3 yards per kick in his lone season with UD this past fall, later took his game outside and went through punting exercises in front of the scouts on the Delaware turf practice field.

All three are hoping to hook on with a professional team and earn a tryout later this spring. Each would love to join a group of seven former Blue Hens currently playing in the NFL, tied for the most of any NCAA FCS program.

“I just want to get in the best shape of my life and hopefully a team will give me an opportunity,” said Bozick when asked about what the coming months will bring leading up to the NFL Draft in April and the subsequent free agent signing period. “It’s all up in the air right now. If a call comes, I just have to be ready to go.”

MEDIA INFORMATION: Contact Scott Selheimer | selheime@udel.edu | Office: 302-831-8007 | Cell: 302-562-5129


Rocco Announces First Delaware Football Recruiting Class

02/01/17 - Courtesy: Delaware Athletics

NEWARK, Del. -- New University of Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco had a look of satisfaction Wednesday as he announced that a talented group of 14 high school standouts had signed the NCAA National Letter of Intent to attend Delaware on scholarship and compete for the Blue Hens this coming fall.

Rocco, who took over the helm of the Blue Hens last December after a successful five-year run at Richmond that included three NCAA Tournament appearances, introduced a recruiting class that included 10 student-athletes on the offensive side of the ball and four on defense. The list includes three wide receivers, three offensive linemen, and two tight ends set to join the Blue Hen family this coming fall.

“This is a great day and a great group,” said Rocco, who noted that 14 of the 15 students offered by the UD coaching staff accepted scholarships. “This is the first time I can remember in my career that we had all the commitments signed by 8 a.m. We wanted to recruit the best available student-athletes out there and we succeeded by recruiting a group of young men highly motivated to achieve both academically and athletically. These are achievement oriented people who are willing to work. We are off to an amazing start.”

Also included in the class were two defensive linemen, one quarterback, one running back, one linebacker, and one defensive back. The recruits hail from the states of Pennsylvania (4), New Jersey (4), Virginia (3), Delaware (2), and Maryland (1).

“I think this class certainly shows that our (recruiting) footprint will be well-defined,” said Rocco. “This class will model those going forward. This is our footprint and we will put a lot of efforts in these areas, including our home state. We are in a really good spot. I could not be more excited as we move into the player development phase of our program.”

Delaware will begin spring drills in April leading up to the annual Blue-White Spring Game set for Saturday, May 6 at 7 p.m. Delaware Stadium. Delaware will celebrate its annual fun-filled fan event, Fandemonium VIII, from 4-7 p.m. earlier that day outside the stadium.

Delaware will host six games at Delaware Stadium this fall, including the season opener Aug. 31 vs. Delaware State, a date with defending NCAA champion James Madison on Sept. 30, and a meeting with Rocco’s old team, Richmond, on Oct. 21.

Don’t miss out on the action this fall. Fans can now renew their 2017 season tickets online at www.bluehens.com/fbtickets.

Below are biographies of the recruits:

Braden Atkinson • 6-4 • 225 • Tight End • Glenville, Pa. (Boys’ Latin HS {Md.})
High School: Projected to play tight end or H-back role at Delaware • three-year starter at H-back at Boys’ Latin High School for head coach Ritchie Schell • team captain as a senior • led team to three-year mark of 20-10 with team advancing to the MIAA league championship game in 2016 and semifinals in 2015 • earned All-MIAA conference honors as a junior in 2015 • played in Crab Bowl (state of Maryland all-star game) • caught 90 passes for 1,110 yards during his career • hauled in 58 passes for 702 yards as a junior and 26 passes for 338 yards as a sophomore in 2014 • limited to just two games as a senior due to an injury • attended Calvert Hall High school as a freshman • was a standout lacrosse player who originally committed to national power Johns Hopkins • originally committed to Wake Forest for football • honor roll every quarter during his high school career.
Personal: Braden Madison Atkinson • born Oct. 21, 1997 • son of Bradd and Monica Atkinson • has a younger brother, Bryce • both parents are graduates of Towson University • father played rugby at Towson • plans to major in criminal justice or education at Delaware • enjoys hunting, fishing, and weight training in his spare time.
Recruiting Coach: Chris Cosh
Coach Rocco Says: “Braden played an h-back role in high school and he is versatile enough that he can play wide receiver, fullback or tight end. We think he can grow into an on the ball tight end. He is a good fit and big win-win for us.”

Gene Coleman II  • 6-0 • 195 • Wide Receiver • Montclair, N.J. (Bergen Catholic HS/Milford Academy)
High School: Will enroll at Delaware this spring and take part in spring drills • began his career at Bergen Catholic High School playing for head coach Nunzio Campanile • spent post-graduate year at Milford (Berlin, N.Y.) Academy where he played for head coach Bill Chaplick in 2016 • teammate at Bergen Catholic with fellow recruit Ship Idrizi and current Blue Hen redshirt freshman defensive lineman Sal Mauro • two-year starter at wide receiver and defensive back at Bergen Catholic • led 2015 team to 7-4 record, Big North Division title, and No. 2 state ranking • earned All-State, All-Metro, All-Bergen County, and All-North Division honors •  caught 79 passes for 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior • 2014 team went 8-3 and was ranked No. 4 in the state • led Milford to undefeated 11-0 mark in 2016 and caught 26 passes for 511 yards (19.7 avg.) and five touchdowns • also competed in lacrosse and track & field at Bergen Catholic • honor roll student.
Personal: Gene Edward Coleman II • born Nov. 8, 1997 • son of Gene Coleman Sr. and Levette Craig-Coleman • has two older sisters • plans to major in criminal justice at Delaware and aspires to work for the F.B.I. • active in numerous community service activities, including Camp Sunshine, New Jersey Food Bank, Salvation Army, and Montclair Special Olympics.
Recruiting Coach: Eddie Allen
Coach Rocco Says: “Gene is an outstanding talent who will join us in the spring. He has all the skills you would want in a wide receiver and he is someone who could be an impact player for us immediately.”

Luke Frederick • 6-5 • 225 • Tight End • Altoona, Pa. (Bishop Guilfoyle HS)
High School: Two-way standout at tight end and defensive end at Bishop Guilfoyle High School for head coach Justin Wheeler • led team to a four-year record of 57-3, 47 straight wins, and three state and district championship titles in 2014-16 • also payed center in basketball for head coach Chris Drenning and was a long jumper and higher jumper in track & field • two-year captain in both football and basketball • defensive All-American by Max Preps and by USA Today  and a two-time All-State selection in football • registered 139 tackles and 15 sacks as a junior and 134 tackles, a state-leading 20 sacks, and 39 tackles for loss as a senior • caught 28 passes for 417 yards as a senior and had 639 receiving yards as a junior •  honor student • member of Spanish Club, Economics Club, and SADD.
Personal: Luke Mathew Frederick • born Feb. 9, 1999 • son of Mark and Bonnie Frederick • father is a therapist and mother is an accountant • has two older sisters and a younger brother • enjoys snowboarding, fishing, and basketball in his spare time.
Recruiting Coach: Bill Polin
Coach Rocco Says: “Luke is someone who committed to Delaware and remained faithful to the new staff. He is a big body tight end who will play in-line and with his hand on the ground. I had the chance to watch him play basketball and he is very athletic kid. He was a dynamic player on defense during his high school career as well.”

Artis Hemmingway • 6-3 • 260 • DL • Hillside, N.J. (Pope John XII HS)
High School: Three-year standout defensive lineman at Pope John XII Regional High School for head coach Brian Carlson • started all three seasons on the defensive line • led team to a 6-5 record as a senior in 2016 • team was ranked No. 14 in the state • recorded 65 tackles and had six quarterback sacks in 2016 • earned first team All-Shore and first team All-Herald honors as a senior •  team went 7-3, went undefeated in conference play, and advanced to the state tournament in 2015 • team also advanced to the state tournament in 2014 as a sophomore.
Personal: Artis (“are-teece”) Romaire Hemmingway • born Sept. 24, 1998 • son of Theresa Hemmingway-Hall and Artis Hemmingway • plans to major in business at Delaware • aspires to work as a sales rep after graduation • avid fan of the NFL New York Giants.
Recruiting Coach: Clint Sintim
Coach Rocco Says: “Artis has a huge upside and is an outstanding pass rusher. He has good growth potential and is someone we project could have several different roles on defense.”

Nolan Henderson • 6-0 • 170 • QB • Smyrna, Del. (Smyrna HS)
High School: Enjoyed one of the top careers ever by a quarterback in Delaware high school football history • first in-state quarterback in UD recruiting class since Newark’s Eric Spiese in 2002 • three-year starter at Smyrna for head coach Mike Judy • two-time team captain • led team to three-year record of 29-6, two Henlopen Conference titles, and two state titles • team went 12-1 in 2015 and won the school’s first state title and followed with undefeated 12-0 state championship in 2016 • two-time first team All-State selection and 2016 Gatorade State Player of the Year • earned 2016 Maxwell Jim Henry Award as the state Player of the Year and was named DIFCA Offensive Player of the Year • set state records with 3,380 yards passing and 36 touchdowns as a junior in 2015 and threw for 1,941 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior • set state record with 104 passing touchdowns • also a three-year starting outfielder in baseball playing for his father • two-year team captain • All-State selection in 2016 and a three-time all-conference selection • honor roll student who earned Academic Excellence Award • volunteer with Special Olympics and was a reader at local elementary school.
Personal: Nolan Michael Henderson • born June 16, 1998 • son of Mike Henderson and Lisa Mullaney • father is a New Castle County police officer • mother is a veterinarian • has a younger sister • grew up as a Delaware football fan and always dreamed of playing for the Blue Hens • family held season tickets for several years.
Recruiting Coach: Matt Simon
Coach Rocco Says: “Nolan was all-everything in Delaware and is a person with an awful lot of upside. He and his family stayed committed to Delaware and showed us a lot of trust. His stats speak for themselves and for the volume of his success. He is an athlete with great presence and a quick release and is a good decision-maker. He has good arm strength, can extend plays, and really has the intangibles to lead. He has a bright future.”

Mickey Henry • 6-2 • 250 • OL • Wilmington, Del. (St. Elizabeth HS)
High School: Began high school career at Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Md. before finishing at St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, Del. in 2016 • earned All-American honors at the National Underclassmen Combine in 2015 while playing at ECA for head coach Dwayne Thomas • earned first team All-Catholic Conference and second team All-State honors as an offensive lineman for St. Elizabeth HS in 2016 for head coach Joe Aviola • honor roll student • selected to Academic Bowl.
Personal: Patrick Michael “Mickey” Henry • born May 30, 1995 • son of Patrick and Stacey Henry • both parents work as educators in Delaware • second of five children with three sisters and a brother • father is a 1992 graduate of Wesley College in Dover, Del. where he played football • mother played college sports at College of Notre Dame and later Wesley • older sister, Elizabeth, plays college lacrosse at Delaware State University • plans to major in criminal justice at Delaware • aspires to work for the F.B.I. • enjoys playing all sports in his spare time • has been a volunteer for youth football camps for 5-8 graders.
Recruiting Coach: Blaine McCorkle
Coach Rocco Says: “Mickey is a mature, athletic kid who we project as a center. He was one of the first players I saw after taking the job. We appreciate the loyalty of Mickey and his family and for giving us the opportunity to sell our vision.”

Shane Hogarth  • 6-2 • 252 • DL • Downingtown, Pa. (Downingtown East HS)
High School: Standout defensive end at Downingtown East High School for head coach Michael Matta • attended same high school as current Delaware tight end Ryley Angeline • two-year starter who led Downingtown East to 11-1 record and Ches-Mont League title as a junior in 2015 and to record of 9-3 and a berth in the state playoffs as a senior in 2016 • earned All-Southeastern Pennsylvania, All-Area, and first team All-Ches-Mont League honors as a senior • collected 11.5 sacks as a junior in 2015 and 10.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles as a senior in 2016 • distinguished honor roll student.
Personal: Shane Michael Hogarth • born Sept. 3, 1998 •  son of Rob and Beth Hogarth • oldest of four children with two brothers and a sister • both parents are graduates of Temple University • grandfather played college football at NCAA III Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa. • cousin, Tara McKenna, attends Delaware • plans to major in business at Delaware.
Recruiting Coach: Bill Polin
Coach Rocco Says: “I’ve had a good history during my career with players from Downingtown East and that area and Shane is someone we had a great interest in. He came to our camp while I was at Richmond so we know a lot about him. He is a versatile defensive lineman who plays hard.”

Shqipron “Ship” Idrizi • 5-11 • 202 • LB • Fort Lee, N.J. (Bergen Catholic HS)
High School: Standout linebacker at Bergen Catholic High School for head coach Nunzio Campanile • teammate at Bergen Catholic with fellow recruit Gene Coleman II and current Blue Hen redshirt freshman defensive lineman Sal Mauro • two-year starter at linebacker and two-time team captain • enjoyed an outstanding season as a senior in 2016 when he earned first team All-State honor and was named the Big North Conference Defensive Player of the Year • also earned spots on All-Metro and All-Bergen County teams • led the team in tackles each of his final two season and had 105 tackles, 11 sacks, and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2016 • team went 7-4 and was ranked No. 5 in the state in 2016 •  led 2015 team to 7-4 record, Big North Division title, and No. 2 state ranking • 2014 team went 8-3 and was ranked No. 4 in the state.
Personal: Shqipron (“ship-ron”) “Ship” Idrizi • born Sept. 25, 1999 in Queens, N.Y. • son of Fadil and Zyrafete Idrizi • middle of three children • older brother, Korab, was a freshman tight end at Boston College in 2016 and started three games for team that won the Quick Lane Bowl • undecided on major but would like to become a coach after graduation • avid weightlifter.  
Recruiting Coach: Eddie Allen
Coach Rocco Says: “Ship will be a great fit to our program as a linebacker moving forward. He is a dynamic player and an outstanding athlete who really is impressive when you see him on film. We think he could be an impact player immediately for us.”

David Kroll • 6-6 • 320 • OL • Reston, Va. (South Lakes HS)
High School: Four-year varsity player and three-year starter as a two-way lineman at South Lakes High School for head coach Trey Taylor •  two-year captain •  led teams to 28 wins and three state playoff appearances during his career • team went 9-3 and advanced to second round of the playoffs in 2015 • as a senior, led team to 12-2 mark, a conference title, and a Northern Region runner-up finish • two-time All-State, two-time All-Metro, and two-time All-Northern Region selection as an offensive lineman • earned all-conference honors three times at offensive line and once at defensive line • invited to VSHCA All-Star Game • team allowed just one sack in 453 pass attempts and he helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers over his final two seasons • recorded 128 knockdown blocks over his final two seasons • also played two seasons of basketball • National Honor Society student.
Personal: David Connors Kroll • born May 27, 1999 in Washington, D.C. • son of Douglas and Kelly Kroll • has an older sister, Katie • father is a facility manager and mother is an attorney • mother played college basketball at University of Rochester and father wrestled at Montana State University • plans to major in business at Delaware • enjoys playing video games in his spare time.
Recruiting Coach: Manny Rojas
Coach Rocco Says: “David is a student-athlete that we had a history with while at Richmond prior to the transition. At 6-6 and 320 lbs., we are excited to get a big body into our program and project him as a tackle. He is a great fit for our program and we love his enthusiasm.”

Carter Lynch • 6-6 • 310 • oL • Mt. Laurel, N.J. (St. Joseph’s Prep {Pa.})
High School: Standout offensive lineman at Pennsylvania state power St. Joseph’s Prep High School in suburban Philadelphia • high school teammate of current UD players Armen Ware, Steve Robinson, and Kevin Shaw • four-year varsity player and two-year starter on offensive line for head coach Gabe Infante • played for teams that posted a four-year record of 44-9 and won state championship titles in 2013, 2014, and 2016 • team was undefeated state champions (14-0) his senior year • saw limited action as a junior in 2015 due to an injury • earned first team All-State honors by USA Today and was an U.S. Army All-American nominee in 2016 • Mr. Pennsylvania Lineman Award finalist in 2016 • posted 58 knockdown blocks as a senior.
Personal:  Carter Anthony Lynch • born May 30, 1988 • son of Bill and Paula Lynch • has a younger brother, Gavin • both parents are graduates of Stockton University in Galloway, N.J. • plans to major in business with minors in finance and business management • hopes to operate his own business after graduation • enjoys working out and driving jeeps in his spare time.
Recruiting Coach: Blaine McCorkle
Coach Rocco Says: “Carter is another big body lineman who we project as a guard. He is versatile and can play multiple positions on the offensive line. He is locked and loaded and ready to go and has a great makeup. He is a great fit for our program and we expect him to contribute early.”

C.J. McAnally • 6-0 • 190 • DB • West Chester, Pa. (Episcopal Academy)
High School: Projected as a safety at Delaware • enjoyed a standout football career at Episcopal Academy for head coach Todd Fairlie • two-time team captain • played quarterback and defensive back • earned All-Philadelphia Area and All-Inter Ac honors as a senior when he also was a Mini Maxwell Award winner • accounted for 38 touchdowns during his career, including 21 touchdown passes, 10 rushing touchdowns, and seven touchdowns on receptions and returns • standout midfielder for lacrosse team • initially committed to University of Maryland to play lacrosse before concentrating on football • member of Key Club and Community Connections Club.
Personal: Charles Joseph “CJ” McAnally • born May 13, 1999 • son of Chuck and Annemarie McAnally • has a younger brother, Jack • father played college baseball at Villanova University • plans to major in elementary education at Delaware • aspires to teach elementary school and coach • hobbies include playing lacrosse and volunteering in community.
Recruiting Coach: Bill Polin
Coach Rocco Says: “CJ originally committed to Maryland to play lacrosse but decided to pursue football. We project him as a safety and we think he will fit nicely into our system. We also expect him to be a valuable contributor on special teams.”

Tylan “Ty” McElhenie • 6-2 • 190 • WR • Virginia Beach, Va. (Ocean Lakes HS)
High School: Standout receiver who played first two high school seasons at Ocean Lakes High School and senior year at Bishop Sullivan High School, both located in Virginia Beach, Va. • played all three seasons for head coach Chris Scott • led Ocean Lakes to undefeated (15-0) state 6A title and No. 1 state ranking in 2014 and to 12-1 mark and state quarterfinal berth in 2015 when team was ranked No. 12 in the state • led Bishop Sullivan to 7-3 mark under Scott in 2016 • earned All-Tidewater Area honors twice and earned all-region honors in 2015 • caught 110 passes for 1,465 yards and 18 touchdowns during high school career • caught 50 passes for 650 yards and 10 touchdowns at OLHS in 2014 despite a season-long injury • led Bishop Sullivan in receiving as a senior with 35 catches for 515 yards and five touchdowns • also competed in track & field at Ocean Lakes • considers former OLHS teammate and former Towson standout wide receiver Andre Dessenberg one of his mentors.
Personal: Tylan (“tie-lan”) Anthony “Ty” McElhenie (“mack-el-hay-nee”) • born Aug. 7, 1998 • son of Sam and Renee McElhenie • has a younger sister, Ciarnan • has not declared a major but would like to be a coach after graduation • enjoys listening to music in his spare time • has been active in numerous community service activities, including working with disabled children, blood cancer awareness, and domestic violence awareness.
Recruiting Coach: Fontel Mines
Coach Rocco Says: “Ty is another player who committed early to Delaware and we are excited that he and his family remained in our camp. He had an outstanding high school career and was one of the most valuable players in his league. He has great size and great length and a strong upside.”

Thyrick Pitts • 6-3 • 185 • WR • Manassas, Va. (Forest Park HS)
High School: Standout wide receiver who began his high school career at Phillipsburg (N.J.) High School before final two seasons at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Va. • played safety for Phillipsburg High School team that went 11-1 and captured the conference and state title for head coach Ryan Ditze in 2014 • moved on to Forest Park where he was a two-year starter for head coach Daniel Bruten • team captain as a senior • was team Most Valuable Player and earned first team all-conference and All-Metro honors as a senior in 2016 • VHSL All-Star Game selection • caught 62 passes for 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Forest Park, including 33 for 604 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016 • honor student • earned Academic Achievement Award as a senior.
Personal: Thyrick (“thigh-rick”) Lamont Pitts, Jr. • born Apr. 8, 1999 in Miami, Fla. • son of Thyrick Sr. and Tatana Pitts • has two younger sisters • father is a district manager and mother is an elementary school teacher • mother played college basketball at NCAA I Florida International University in 1992-96 • plans to major in physical therapy at Delaware.
Recruiting Coach: Fontel Mines
Coach Rocco Says: “Thyrick is a long, tall, rangy wide receiver who we are excited to have join us. He pre-committed to Richmond while we were there and we appreciate his interest in Delaware. He has great potential and a strong upside.”

Khory Spruill • 6-0 • 215 • RB • Clinton, Md. (DeMatha Catholic HS)
High School: Continues the string of outstanding DeMatha players who have played at Delaware, most recently 2015-16 All-Colonial Athletic Association offensive tackle and NFL prospect Connor Bozick • standout running back at DeMatha for head coach Elijah Brooks • four-year varsity member and two-year starter at running back • led team to four-year record of 43-5 that included four straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles • team went perfect 12-0 in 2016 and was ranked No. 4 in the nation • earned first team All-WCAC honors in 2016 and was a third team pick in 2015 • rushed for 967 yards (5.6 average) and 11 touchdowns as a senior in 2016 • ran for 165 yards vs. rival Good Counsel in the playoffs • limited due to a late-season injury as a junior in 2015 • also competed in track & field for head coach Buddy Crutchfield.
Personal: Khory Diante Spruill (“sprule”) • born Dec. 11, 1998 in Washington, D.C. • son of Kendrick Spruill and Sakeena Pickett • third of four children • father is a quality control specialist and mother is an IT service manager • plans to major in business management with a minor in sport management at Delaware • career goal is to own a sports agency • enjoys playing basketball, running track, and playing video games in his spare time.
Recruiting Coach: Chris Cosh
Coach Rocco Says: “Khory comes from a great program at DeMatha and competed with and against the very best. He is battle-tested and an outstanding ball-carrier. He overcame some adversity with an injury during his junior year and we are excited to have him join us.”

MEDIA INFORMATION: Contact Scott Selheimer | selheime@udel.edu | Office: 302-831-8007 |  Cell: 302-562-5129


 Shane Hogarth  DL
6-2 252
 Downingtown East 
 Downingtown, Pa.
 Carter Lynch  OL 6-6 310  St. Joseph's Prep (Pa.) 
 Mt. Laurel, N.J.
 Thyrick Pitts  WR 6-3 185  Forest Park 
 Manassas, Va.
 David Kroll  OL 6-6 320  South Lakes 
 Reston, Va.
 Gene Coleman II  WR 6-0 195  Bergen Catholic/Milford Acad.  Montclair, N.J.
 Ship Idrizi  LB  5-11 202  Bergen Catholic  Fort Lee, N.J.
 Luke Frederick  TE 6-5 225  Bishop Guilfoyle  Altoona, Pa.
 Artis Hemmingway  DL 6-3 260  Pope John XII  Hillside, N.J.
 CJ McAnally
 DB 6-0 190  Episcopal Academy  West Chester, Pa.
 Braden Atkinson  TE 6-4 225  Boys' Latin (Md.)  Glenville, Pa.
 Nolan Henderson  QB 6-0 170  Smyrna   Smyrna, Del.
 Tylan McElhenie
 WR 6-2 190  Bishop Sullivan  Virginia Beach, Va.
 Khory Spruill  RB 6-0 215  DeMatha Catholic  Clinton, Md.
 Mickey Henry  OL 6-2 250  St. Elizabeth   Wilmington, Del.

Delaware Football Selects Levern Belin as New Defensive Line Coach
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 01/25/2017

NEWARK, Del. -- Levern Belin, who has worked closely alongside new University of Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco during stops at the University of Virginia, Liberty University, and the University of Richmond over the last decade, was named defensive line coach for the Blue Hens Wednesday.

Belin (pronounced “Lee-vern” “Bee-lin”), takes over as mentor of the UD defensive front following Dennis Dottin-Carter’s acceptance of a position on the University of Connecticut staff earlier this week.

“We are excited to announce the hiring of Levern Belin as our defensive line coach,” said Rocco. “Coach Belin and I have a long history together dating back to his recruitment to Wake Forest University. Levern is an outstanding football coach and is regarded as an even better mentor and role model. He has coached at the highest levels of BCS football and has instructed a number of outstanding student-athletes. Levern will bring a level of expertise and energy to our program. He was our defensive line coach for our entire time at the University of Richmond and he oversaw an outstanding group during that timeline. Coach Belin will be a great addition to our staff.”

Belin is a veteran of 25 seasons as a collegiate coach - 23 of them leading defensive line units - and most recently spent five seasons at Richmond with Rocco, helping the Spiders advance to the NCAA playoffs three times, including a berth in the quarterfinals in 2016.

“I am very blessed to have the opportunity to be here at the University of Delaware,” said Belin. “I’m looking forward to working with Coach Rocco and the staff, mentoring our student-athletes, and winning championships.”

A native of Marshville, N.C., Belin has served with Rocco for the last eight seasons, including five at Richmond and three at Liberty (2009-11), where Rocco served as head coach before moving on to Richmond. The two were also on the same coaching staff at Boston College in 1991, at Maryland in 1999, and at Virginia in 2005. All told, the two have coached together for 11 seasons.

Belin’s defensive line unit played a big role in Richmond’s success over the last five years as the Spiders posted an overall record of 43-22 (.661), went 26-14 (.650) in Colonial Athletic Association play, advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times, and won two CAA titles under Rocco. Richmond went 10-4 and advanced to the NCAA semifinals in 2015 and followed with another 10-4 mark and a trip to the quarterfinals this past fall.

Under Belin’s guidance, the Spiders have had eight different defensive lineman earn All-CAA accolades, most notably Winston Craig, who earned All-American honors in 2016 after posting 7.5 sacks; Kerry Wynn, who closed out his career in 2013 and now plays for the New York Giants; and Andrew Clyde, who had six sacks in 2015.

With Belin’s help, the Spiders’ defensive line has put constant pressure on the opponents, helping Richmond lead the conference in turnover margin four times over the last five seasons.

Prior to joining Rocco in Richmond, Belin spent three seasons with him at Liberty, serving as the defensive line coach for the Flames. His impact was an immediate one, guiding Liberty to one of the best defensive programs in the country. During his three seasons in Lynchburg, Liberty won two Big South titles and the defense ranked among the top 25 nationally.

Prior to Liberty, Belin spent the previous four years as defensive line coach at NCAA FBS member Virginia beginning in 2005. After his first year with the Cavaliers, Belin was promoted to defensive assistant/defensive line coach, spotlighted by his coaching of consensus All-America honoree Chris Long. Long was the 2007 Ted Hendricks Award winner as the nation's top defensive end and was the second overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

In 2007, Virginia ranked No. 23 in the nation in total defense (332.46 yards allowed per game) and No. 16 in scoring defense (19.69 points allowed per game). During the 2006 campaign, the Cavaliers held their opponents to 289.5 yards per contest, the best figure for Virginia in 27 years. He also coached freshman All-American Jeffrey Fitzgerald.

Prior to his days in Charlottesville, Va., Belin served on the Northern Illinois coaching staff in 2004, as a defensive interior line coach. During his one year with the Huskies, he helped Northern Illinois to a share of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) title.

Belin brings both NCAA FBS and FCS coaching experience to the Blue Hen coaching staff, as he was linebackers coach for a year at East Tennessee State (1993) and mentored the linebackers and defensive line for three seasons at CAA foe William & Mary (2001-03), helping the Tribe advance to the 2001 NCAA playoffs.

Belin began his college coaching experience as a 1991 graduate assistant at Boston College before moving across town for his first full-time job at Boston University as a defensive line coach in 1992.

During five seasons at Ball State (1994-98), Belin helped instruct one of the top rushing defenses in the Mid-American Conference. He began his tenure with the Cardinals as an outside linebacker coach, before closing out his stay as a four-year defensive end coach. During the 1997 season, Ball State led the league and ranked No. 34 nationally in fewest yards allowed. While at Ball State, Belin coached Keith McKenzie, an eight-year NFL defensive end.

Following his five-year stay at Ball State, Belin moved to College Park, Md., for a two-year stint at Maryland (1999-2000), where he coached the Terrapins' defensive line. During his days in College Park, Belin helped shape the NFL careers of Kris Jenkins and Delbert Cowette. Jenkins was a four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle, who has played most of his career with the Carolina Panthers, while Cowette was a defensive tackle with the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears.

A three-year starter at Wake Forest as an inside linebacker, he graduated from the program in 1991 with a degree in speech communications.

Belin and his wife, DeVida, have a son, Chase.

Reginald Levern Belin (“lee-vern” “bee-lin”)
Born:  August 20, 1969
Hometown: Marshville, N.C.
Playing Career: Linebacker, Wake Forest (1987-91)
Degree: Wake Forest ‘91 (Speech Communications)
Family: Wife, DeVida; Son, Chase

College Coaching Timeline
1991 - Boston College (GA)
1992 - Boston University (DL)
1993 - East Tennessee State University (LB)
1994-98 - Ball State University (OLB/DE)
1999-00 - University of Maryland (DL)
2001-03 - William & Mary (LB/DL)
2004 - Northern Illinois University (DL)
2005-08 - University of Virginia (DL)
2009-11 - Liberty University (DL)
2012-16 - University of Richmond (DL)
2017 - University of Delaware (DL)


Delaware Football Announces 2017 Schedule
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 01/20/2017

NEWARK, Del. -- A renewed enthusiasm surrounds the University of Delaware football program in 2017 as new head coach Danny Rocco begins the quest to bring Blue Hen football back to national prominence.

The Blue Hens learned of their looming battles on Thursday as the complete 2017 schedule, an 11-game slate that features outstanding opponents and longstanding rivalries, was announced.

The eight-game Colonial Athletic Association ledger is highlighted by a matchup against defending NCAA national champion James Madison, which visits Delaware Stadium for the CAA opener on Sept. 30 at Delaware Stadium.

Blue Hen fans won’t want to miss a minute of the high-powered action this fall and what better way to guarantee your special spot in Delaware Stadium than by purchasing season tickets for an exciting six-game slate that includes several of Delaware’s biggest rivals.

Delaware will once again open the season against downstate foe Delaware State on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Delaware Stadium followed by a trip to Blacksburg, Va. on Sept. 9 to take on a Virginia Tech team that finished the 2016 season with a 10-4 record and No. 16 NCAA FBS national ranking. The Hens will then return home to close out the non-league schedule with a first-ever meeting vs. Ivy League foe Cornell on Sept. 16.

After a bye week on Sept. 23, Delaware will host James Madison on Sept. 30, travel to Stony Brook for the first time ever on Oct. 7, then return to Delaware Stadium for a two-game home stand with William & Mary on Oct. 14 and 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifier Richmond on Oct. 21. The Richmond game is an intriguing one as Rocco will meet up with the team he coached for the last five years and led to three NCAA playoff appearances.

Delaware will then close out the season Oct. 28 at Towson, Nov. 4 at Maine, Nov. 11 at home vs. Albany, and Nov. 18 at longtime foe and 2016 NCAA playoff qualifier Villanova.

Game times and special events such as Homecoming and Parents and Family Weekend will be announced at a later date.

Delaware Stadium is the place to be on Saturdays during the fall as energetic fans gather to cheer on the Blue Hens and create a festive atmosphere that has few equals nationally at the NCAA FCS level. And whether you come out to support the Blue Hens with your family or with friends, with a large group or small, there is a season ticket package just for you!

Affordable packages start at the low cost of $79 and new pricing in the 50-yard line sections of Delaware Stadium will feature a 29 percent savings over single game prices. In all other remaining sections, the per game price for season tickets will be at least 13 percent lower than they were during the 2016 season.

Season ticket members also enjoy additional benefits such as priority access to away game and post season tickets, access to exclusive season ticket member parking lots, discounts on single game parking lots, invitations to season ticket member exclusive events throughout the year, and a season ticket member benefit card with discounts to Delaware Athletics’ partners in the area.

Discounts to University of Delaware faculty and staff have also been expanded for this season and those UD fans will have the opportunity to take advantage of a 20 percent discount on season tickets in Sections A through N as well as for the Family Five-Pack in the north end zone.

Fans are also reminded that required seat donations that were previously in effect have been removed this fall for all seats in Sections A through N.

Led by Rocco and his high-powered approach, the Blue Hens will certainly be exciting to watch in 2017 backed by one of the nation’s most potent ground games and a defense that returns four All-CAA performers, including homegrown products in linebacker Troy Reeder - one of the top sophomore linebackers in the country a year ago - and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols. The group also includes two-time All-CAA linebacker Charles Bell and one of the league’s top rising starts in cornerback Nasir Adderley.

Deposits for new 2017 football season tickets are available now online at www.udel.edu/003551or by calling 302-831-4493. Renewals for the 2017 season will be available in early February.

2017 University of Delaware Football Schedule
Aug. 31 – Delaware State – Home
Sept. 9 – Virginia Tech – Away
Sept. 16 – Cornell – Home
Sept. 23 – Bye
Sept. 30 - *James Madison – Home
Oct. 7 - *Stony Brook – Away
Oct. 14 - *William & Mary – Home
Oct. 21 - *Richmond – Home
Oct. 28 - *Towson - Away
Nov. 4 - *Maine – Away
Nov. 11 - *Albany – Home
Nov. 18 - *Villanova – Away

*=Colonial Athletic Association Opponents
Times will be announced at a later date

University of Delaware Football Selects Matt Simon as Offensive Coordinator
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics

Release: 01/13/2017

NEWARK, Del. -- New University of Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco added the final piece to his coaching staff Friday as he announced the hiring of successful longtime collegiate and National Football League assistant Matt Simon as offensive coordinator.

Simon, who has spent the last six seasons at NCAA FBS member University at Buffalo and is a veteran of 10 NFL seasons as an assistant coach, will also coach the Blue Hen quarterbacks.

He is the final full-time hire for Rocco, who last week announced the addition of former University of Richmond defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Chris Cosh; outside linebackers coach Clint Sintim; inside linebackers coach Manny Rojas; offensive line coach Blaine McCorkle; tight ends coach Bill Polin; wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Fontel Mines; and football strength & conditioning coach Chris Stewart; associate director of football operations Carl Kotz; and video coordinator Tony Palmieri to the staff. Three interns will be added to the staff in the coming weeks.

“We are excited to add Matt Simon to our football family here at the University of Delaware,” said Rocco, who was hired as the Blue Hens’ head coach on Dec. 14. “Coach Simon comes to us with a wealth of experience that will serve our student-athletes well. He has worked at all levels of the game, has had success at each of them, and his experience in the NFL gave him the opportunity to work with some of the greatest coaches and organizations in the country. Matt’s maturity and overall wealth of knowledge and experience make him a perfect fit for our program moving forward.”

“I have been blessed and I am proud to have the opportunity to join Coach Rocco here at Delaware,” said Simon. “I have been impressed with Coach Rocco and believe he is one the most dynamic coaches in the game today. I am looking forward to returning to the Mid-Atlantic region and excited about rebuilding the great traditions of Delaware Football.”

Simon, 63, brings a tremendous resume built upon a decade of coaching in the National Football League and 25 years at the collegiate level, including serving as the head coach and quarterbacks coach at the University of North Texas for three seasons in 1994-97 and serving as an assistant on the University of Washington’s 1991 national championship team. He also won a Super Bowl as an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, making him one of only 10 men to win both an NCAA Division I-A/FBS national championship and a Super Bowl.

During his most recent tenure at Buffalo, Bulls offensive players flourished under his tutelage. Simon coached All-Mid American Conference running back Branden Oliver, who ran for a school-record 1,535 yards and became just the 13th player in MAC history to surpass the 4,000-yard mark with a school record total of 4,409.

In 2015, Anthone Taylor (829) and Jordan Johnson (811) became the first running back tandem in UB’s FBS era to go over 800 yards rushing in the same season. In 2014, Anthone Taylor rushed for 1,403 yards - the second-highest single-season total in school history - and earned second-team All-MAC honors.

In 2013, the Bulls rushed for 2,176 yards - the third most in school history for a single season. Buffalo ranked in the top three in the MAC in scoring (32.3), total offense (438.2), and rushing offense (178.6) in 2014 and was fifth in scoring (30.2) and total offense (394.7) in 2013 when the Bulls went 8-5 and earned a second place finish in the MAC East Division.

Simon began his coaching career at the University of Washington, serving under head coach Don James from 1981-92, a tenure that was highlighted when the Huskies claimed a share of the national championship in 1991. He coached three All-Americans at UW, including running backs Greg Lewis and Napoleon Kaufman.

He then served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at New Mexico from 1992-94 where his offenses ranked 18th and 10th nationally in his two seasons and averagd 30.5 points per game.

He was then named head coach at the University of North Texas, where he coached four seasons and in his first year led the Mean Green to the Southland Conference title and an NCAA I-AA playoff berth. He was named the Southland Conference and AFCA Region 4 Coach of the Year.

After one season with the Denver Broncos in 1998, Simon was named running backs coach with the Baltimore Ravens, where he contributed to tremendous success by the franchise, including helping the Ravens earn a Super Bowl title in 2000.

He also helped lead Baltimore to playoff berths in 2001 and 2003, when the Ravens claimed their first AFC North title. With Baltimore he coached Pro Bowler Jamal Lewis, who in 2003 under Simon’s tutelage, posted the second-highest rushing total in NFL history when he rushed for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns.

His success with running backs continued when he spent the 2007-08 seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He helped lead LaDainian Tomlinson to his second NFL rushing title and also tutored Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal and Darren Sproles.

He also spent time as a professional football consultant and head coach at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio. He has worked with several players to prepare them for the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and NFL Draft, including Detroit Lions 2010 first-round selection Jahvid Best.

Born in Akron, Ohio and a native of Baltimore, Simon earned four letters as a linebacker at Eastern New Mexico University and was later inducted into the school’s Hall of Honors. He served as a graduate assistant at his alma mater for one season, coached in the high school ranks for a year, and then moved on to his first full-time position at UTEP.

While at Washington, he served as running backs and placekickers coach and helped the Huskies go to 9 bowl games in a 10-season span under head coach Don James, helping the squad share the national championship with Miami in 1991. Simon later was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame.

Simon and his wife, Lisa Wells Simon, have four children - Micah, Matthew, Morgan, and Madison.

Matthew Simon
Born: December 6, 1953 in Akron, Ohio
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Playing Career: Linebacker at Eastern New Mexico (1972-75)
Degree: Eastern New Mexico ‘76 (History & Physical Education); Master’s in Physical Education
Family: Wife, Lisa Wells Simon; children Micah, Matthew, Morgan, Madison

Coaching Timeline
1977 - Eastern New Mexico University (GA)
1978 - Borger (Tex.) High School (Assistant)
1979-1981 - University of Texas-El Paso (TE/LB)
1982-1991 - University of Washington (RB/K)
1992-1993 - University New Mexico (OC/QB)
1994-1997 - North Texas State University (Head Coach/QB - 18-26-1; 1994 NCAA I-AA 1st Round)
1998 - NFL Denver Broncos (AC)
1999-2005 - NFL Baltimore Ravens (RB)
2007-2008 - NFL San Diego Chargers (RB)
2009-2010 - Gilmour Academy (Gates Mills, Ohio) (Head Coach)
2011-2016 - University at Buffalo (RB/Special Teams)


Meet Danny Rocco: A Q&A with the University of Delaware’s New Head Football Coach
Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 12/16/2016

Danny Rocco was destined to be a football coach.

He grew up in a football family. His father, Frank, was a longtime coach at both the high school and college ranks. His two brothers have spent their entire lives as high school coaches.

Coaching is in his blood. It’s part of his DNA.

Now, after 33 years coaching the game he loves - the last 11 as a head coach - Danny Rocco has found a new destination and it has brought him to the University of Delaware.

And what the Blue Hen faithful have quickly found is that this is a man devoted to his student-athletes and the game of football, a man committed to excellence in all phases of life. This is a man who has found nothing but success at every stop along the way, never having had a losing season as a head coach. This is a man whose teams have captured six conference titles and made three straight FCS playoff appearances.

He is a winner. He is a man of integrity. He is a leader. And now he is a Blue Hen.

Rocco inherits a legendary program, one that includes six national championships, three Hall of Fame head coaches, numerous NFL players, and enthusiastic fan support.

But after consecutive losing seasons and a six-year absence from postseason play, a transformation is set to begin at Delaware. That transformation begins with Danny Rocco. 

“I have seen and heard the passion that the fans have and the enthusiasm that the alumni have about this program,” said Rocco, whose most recent tenure saw him lead the University of Richmond to three straight NCAA playoff appearances. “We want to return our football program to the national stage and to national prominence. We will do it the right way and we will start working towards that today.”

We had the chance to sit down with Coach Rocco on Dec. 14 when he was introduced as the newest Blue Hen football head coach to find out what motivates this special man and his vision of bringing Delaware Football back to national prominence.

Question: Describe what the last week has been like and your decision to become the next head football coach at the University of Delaware?

Coach Rocco: “It’s been a crazy 48 hours, really. There has been a lot of things going on, a lot on your things to do list when you make a change like this. I spent a lot of time with Chrissi (Delaware AD Chrissi Rawak) in preparation for this transition. I am really excited to be here. This is a fresh start and a new beginning and I am highly-motivated and enthusiastic about getting this thing off to a fast start. 

Q: What do you say to someone who asks, Why Delaware?

A: “I was out there on the (Delaware Stadium) field when I brought my Richmond team here in 2013. I can remember walking the field before the game, seeing the six national championship banners, and I just took it all in. I think I knew at that time that I felt this place could really be special again. I am really appreciative of the opportunity to be able to take some leadership here and help Delaware football move forward.”

Q: Describe your recruiting style and the type of student-athletes you want to bring to Delaware?

A: “I think first and foremost we recruit character. We recruit young people who have ambition, young people who want to succeed and achieve as student-athletes and succeed and achieve in life. Those are the kind of people I want to be around. I want goal-oriented, highly-motivated people on my football team. I don’t use the five-star, four-start, three-start models as a way of going about evaluating the personnel we want in our program. If there is one thing we have done a really good job of and done well heading into my 12th year as a head coach is that we have evaluated, recruited, and developed our student-athletes. That has allowed us to be consistently successful. That model needs to continue and it will be one of my first items of business as we get started.”

Q: What excites you the most about the future of Delaware Football?

A: “The biggest thing for me was the vision, the enthusiasm, and the energy that I received when I spoke with President (Dennis) Assanis and Chrissi about the future of not only Delaware football but the entire University of Delaware and the goals that they have set moving forward. History is history. You have rallying points that you can build upon but we are starting anew. We will reference our history as often as we can and recognize the value and the significance of our past but we have to utilize all of those things in forming a team and coming together. This is something no man can do alone. No coach can sit here and say ‘I am going to do this because I know how to do it.’ It is a team effort and we will call upon everyone who has feelings and pride and a connection to the experience of being part of University of Delaware Football. It’s really a special thing. I have seen and heard the passion that the fans have and the enthusiasm that the alumni have about this program. My hope and goal is to return Delaware Football to its place on the national stage. That looks a lot of different ways. I want our student-athletes to have an outstanding experience here academically and I want them to be able to leave here with the skills they need to have, the character development they need to have, and the maturity they need to have to be able to make a significant contribution in society. I want them to have a good career and be good husbands and fathers. But we want to return our football program to the national platform and the national stage. Those are the things we will start working towards right away.”

Q: What will be your first message to the team?

A: “The next opportunity to sit in front of the team will be in January after the holidays during the winter session. That will certainly be a very meaningful opportunity for me to be able to engage with them and begin the process of building trust, begin the process of setting the standards and expectations, and then begin the process of communication. Those are very important when building a program.”

Q: What are your immediate plans and what challenges do you expect to face?

A: “I have a very scripted three-phase plan that all happens between today and the end of the spring semester and all of it is geared to getting off to a fast start. I have about 22 bullet points that are part of the plan. The most immediate plan is to meet the people, gain an understanding and appreciation for the different roles people have within the program, and assemble my staff. That certainly is the top priority. We then want to focus on the recruiting class, making sure we are bringing the right student-athletes into our program. We can make some real headway in those areas so that when the players do come back we can start focusing on player development, player evaluation, academics, and a number of other things that we want to do in the community and with our alumni and fan base.”

Q: You have taken over programs at Liberty and Richmond that struggled before you arrived and then found success in your first season. To what do you attribute that immediate success?

A: “The first thing that has to be understood is that there is no formula. Every situation is different. When I took my first head coaching job at Liberty University they were coming off a 1-10 season and had lost 10 consecutive games. They had no history of success. So even though I was a first-year head coach, I went in there with the understanding that they were hungry to win and they would gravitate to me. I didn’t have to meet them halfway if you will. They quickly responded to anything and everything we asked them to do. They were hungry and they wanted to be successful. When I went to the University of Richmond, they were coming off an 0-8 season in the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) in 2011. But it was a different makeup of player and student-athlete. The older players had experienced some success and had realized the thrill of a national championship season. They were recruited to that so it was a little different dynamic. I was more open to offering communication and dialogue and I made sure I was addressing the things that needed to be addressed so that I could adjust my model accordingly. My first year there we flipped it and went 8-3 and won a share of the CAA Championship. As I begin here I have a good feeling about how I want to move forward. I believe that if you are not growing you are dying. I am a firm believer in constant and continual improvement. I came into the CAA five years ago because I wanted to be a better coach. I am motivated to get better. This is another opportunity and another challenge and offers me the platform to get better. Hopefully what I have learned over the last 33 years in coaching - the last 11 as a head coach - will give me good direction. As I move forward here, I want to communicate with our players and get a sense of what they need and build unity.”

Q: Describe the importance of education and community service among your student-athletes?

A: “I think that is why we are here. They are student-athletes and they are college students. The most important part of this time in their lives is their academic success. There is a reality though that the football piece, the success, makes the student-athlete experience all that much better. Getting a great degree and a great education from the University of Delaware can do an awful lot for these young student-athletes. But the experience is all that much better when they have success on the field. These young men are competitors and I want to see them compete in the classroom, I want to see them compete in the weight room, I want to see them compete for grades, I want to see them compete in practice, and ultimately I want to see them compete in the games on Saturday afternoon. All those things go hand-in-hand. I don’t think you can be a great football player and an awful student. I don’t think that model works. To be great you have to be willing to push yourself in all areas of your life. And then the social and community piece is a huge, huge part of what we have been about here and what we need to continue to be.”

Q: You come from a football family. Did you always want to be a football coach and what motivates you to lead young people?

A: “I had the privilege of playing high school football for my Dad. My brother Frank, who is a year older than me, ever since we were yea high, 5 or 6, we were going off with my Dad’s high school team to camps. We were doing anything and everything associated with the game of football and we just loved it. As we got into the high school ranks I had the chance to play for my Dad. What I learned many years later was that my Dad had mentored so many young people. In real time, as a 17 year-old kid, you don’t really recognize that. He was my Dad so he was obviously mentoring me. He was allowing me the opportunity to grow and experience things and was instilling values. I had never really translated that to my teammates until years later when I reconnected and they shared those stories and the reality of the impact that my Dad had in their lives. For me, that is why I do what I do. Now we are all competitive and that is where the winning sometimes gets in the way, but we are in this to mentor young people. We are in this to be role models. It’s hard out there and a lot harder now than when I was growing up. These young people today have so many different things to grab their attention and take their focus away from the things they need to be focused on. So we have to have coaches, teachers, educators, and mentors to offer the right direction, the right voice, and the right message. I think that is a big part of what we got from my father. My brother, Frank, has been a lifetime coach, my brother, Dave, has been a lifetime coach, and I think we are doing that for the right reasons.”

Q: Tell us about your family?

A: “In our first 12 years of marriage, Julie and I lived in eight different states. We were all over the place. Oddly enough, the last 16 years we have spent in Virginia. We had five years at Virginia under coach Al Groh, six years at Liberty University, and five years at the University of Richmond. Julie grew up as an Army brat and her father was West Point. She was born in Germany and they moved quite frequently around the country so she was quick to adjust. Our son, David, is following in his father’s footsteps and is currently the wide receivers coach at Western Illinois working for Charlie Fisher, who was on my staff at Richmond. Our daughter, Amy, is a UVA grad and is working at Liberty University in the marketing department. We remain very close and very supportive. Saturday’s at our place can be very eventful.”

Q: What do you like to do when you are not coaching?

A: “I don’t have any real hobbies. Julie and I have a St. Bernard, Max, who we are very affectionate with. We like to take Max out and go for walks and we like to travel and do things like that. But I don’t have any hobbies outside of football and family.”

Q: What would you like your legacy at Delaware to be?

A: “I’d like for my legacy to be that he returned Delaware Football to a place of national prominence and helped grow the culture in a way that everybody in the community was proud of and appreciated the level of commitment that our student-athletes are making towards their education, towards the University, and to the community. I think that is a big part of it. It’s hard to separate the winning since that is very real. But you have to recognized the importance of building a healthy culture and sustaining that culture. You need a culture where young people have the opportunity to grow and develop, respond to challenges, be supported, and be encourages. I think that is a nice legacy to have for anybody, anywhere, and I am very focused, purposeful, and conscientious moving forward.”

Q: What is your message to those who love Delaware Football?

A: “My most specific message would be that this is a team effort. We need everybody. We as coaches, staff, and student-athletes cannot do it alone. We need that fan base, that alumni base, the student body. We all need to rally and unite and breathe back some life into the hopes and dreams, not only into our student-athletes but into all Blue Hens. One of the most exciting things about Saturday afternoons in the fall is when the student-athletes run on to the field through the tunnel and see all the students at the game and the energy, enthusiasm, and support that brings to the athletics program. When I was here a few years ago, that was one of the things that really drew my attention. It needs to continue to grow and build and become part of who we are and part of our culture. I will do anything and everything I can to help connect the students to our program and to all of the programs here at Delaware. We need them to be loud and up front. I look forward to meeting them.”


New UD coach Rocco ready to get Hens back on track
Dec 14th, 2016 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK – An overflow Carpenter Center auditorium crowd greeted Danny Rocco as he was introduced as Delaware’s new football coach this afternoon.

The 56-year-old Huntingdon, Pa. native agreed to leave Richmond on Monday evening after coaching Richmond for the last five seasons.

He led the Spiders to three straight NCAA Division I FCS playoff appearances, including a trip to the national semifinals two years ago and an appearance in the quarterfinals this fall.

Rocco said he was honored to be the coach at a program with Delaware’s tradition but also that he’s coming to Newark to get the Hens back on track after their first back-to-back losing seasons since 1939. Delaware has finished 4-7 in each of the last two years and hasn’t made the playoffs since going to the national title game in 2010.

“I’m here to help return Delaware football to a level of national prominence and put our brand back on the national stage,” Rocco told the crowd of players, season-ticket holders and UD staff. “And like the president (Dr. Dennis Assanis) said, I’m here to do it the right way.”

In 11 seasons as a head coach at both Richmond and Liberty, Rocco’s teams own a record of 90-42. He’s never had a losing record in those 11 years.

He replaces Dave Brock, who was fired in October, midway through his fourth season at Delaware.

“I wasn’t going to rest until I found the right coach for this program,” said first-year UD athletic director Chrissi Rawak. “We had unbelievable interest. That’s not surprising, it just reinforces how special this place is and how special this program is.

“But I can tell you, as we went through each step in this process, it became so clear to us that Danny Rocco was the right man for Delaware.”


Delaware hires Richmond’s Rocco as football coach
Dec 13th, 2016 · by Andy Walter · Delaware State News

NEWARK –Delaware hasn’t registered too many big football victories lately.

But the Blue Hens posted a pretty significant off-the-field win on Tuesday when they hired coach Danny Rocco away from CAA-rival Richmond.

The 56-year-old Rocco will be introduced as Delaware’s new coach today at 1 p.m. at the Carpenter Center.

While Rocco was believed to be the Hens’ top choice all along, he met with officials from both Richmond and Delaware on Monday.

The news of his decision to join the Hens came out of Richmond on Tuesday morning.

According to a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Rocco was “close” to staying with the Spiders, who he’s coached for the past five seasons.

Finally, however, he decided that “I do think it’s time for me to move on.” In the Times-Dispatch story, Rocco said getting back near his Pennsylvania roots was a big factor.

A former Penn State linebacker and a native of Huntingdon, Pa., Rocco still has several relatives in the state.

“I am closer to home. I am back into the region that I really started my coaching and recruiting career, in the state of Pennsylvania,” Rocco told the paper. “That’s where all of my ties are. My dad was the president of the Pennsylvania High School Coaches Association back in 1982.

“I’ll be a little closer to home and be at a school I think is a little better fit for me moving forward. To me, this is the only (FCS) league to be in, for me geographically, the only league I’d want to be in. I learned that quickly after arriving at Richmond.”

Like Delaware, Richmond is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association but the Spiders are a league member in football only.

“Could not be happier to welcome Coach Danny Rocco and his family to Delaware!” UD athletic Chrissi Rawak tweeted on Tuesday.

Former Blue Hen star quarterback Rich Gannon, who was a member of the search committee, also tweeted the news on Tuesday morning: “Excited for Delaware football and our new HC Danny Rocco! Good things are in store for my Blue Hens! Welcome aboard coach!”

“Congratulations to Coach Rocco! I almost committed to Liberty University because of him, he will do great things for UD Football!” tweeted former Blue Hen punter Eric Enderson.

In 11 seasons as a head coach, at both Liberty and Richmond, Rocco has never had a losing season. He owns an overall record of 90-42 and has been a finalist for national FCS Coach of the Year five times.

At Richmond, Rocco’s teams went a combined 43-22 with a 26-14 record in the CAA. He took the Spiders to three straight NCAA Division I FCS playoff appearances, including a trip to the national semifinals in 2015.

In both 2012 and ‘15, Richmond tied for the Colonial title.

“Rocco is not flashy,” Times-Dispatch reporter Paul Woody wrote in a column on Tuesday afternoon. “But he is a fundamentally sound coach who adjusts his coaching style to the available talent and knows how to win.”

This past fall, the Spiders went 10-4 and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals, where they fell to Eastern Washington, 38-0, on Saturday. Rocco indicated to the Times-Dispatch that he also had some interest from Division I FBS Temple, although he wasn’t offered the Owls’ head coaching job.

Before Richmond, Rocco spent six seasons at Liberty, where his teams were 47-20, including a 26-5 mark in the Big South.

Rocco, who finished his playing career at Wake Forest, was a defensive line or linebackers coach for several well-known head coaches, including Al Groh (Wake Forest, New York Jets), Bill McCartney (Colorado) and Tom Coughlin (Boston College).

In Newark, Rocco takes over a Delaware program that has gone 4-7 each of the last past two seasons — its first back-to-back losing campaigns since 1939. On the other hand, the Hens are losing only a handful of starters to graduation.

Rocco said he plans to bring most of his Richmond assistant coaches with him.

The Hens have had only five football head coaches since Bill Murray was hired in 1940. Murray, Dave Nelson and Tubby Raymond all had Hall of Fame careers.

Delaware has been without a full-time head coach since Oct. 16 when it fired fourth-year coach Dave Brock.


Blue Hens’ coaching situation up in the air
Dec 13th, 2016 · by Andy Walter of Delaware State News

Delaware’s football coaching search remained in limbo on Monday evening.

According to a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond coach Danny Rocco was meeting with UR officials on Monday night.

Believed to be the frontrunner for the Blue Hens’ job, Rocco also planned to meet with Delaware officials duirng the day.

The Times-Dispatch quoted a press release from Richmond athletic director Keith Gill saying that discussions with Rocco are still ongoing.

“We continue to confirm with him Richmond’s commitment to maintaining our winning football tradition,” the statement read. “Our football program is very strong and (President Ronald A. Crutcher) and I are committed to maintaining the success and winning tradition of Spider football.”

The 56-year-old Rocco has led the Spiders to three straight appearances in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs, including a trip to the national semifinals two years ago. Richmond went 10-4 this past season, which ended with a 38-0 loss at Eastern Washington in the FCS quarterfinals on Saturday.

Delaware has been without a full-time head coach since Oct. 16 when it fired fourth-year coach Dave Brock. The Hens have gone 4-7 each of the last two seasons, the program’s first back-to-back losing campaigns since 1939.


KC KEELER NAMED COACH OF THE YEAR - wins Eddie Robinson Award:

Scott Garbarini - http://www.ncaa.com
Dec 7, 2016 

There isn't much K.C. Keeler hasn't accomplished over a 23-year career that includes a national championship and over 200 victories.

Sam Houston State's distinguished program leader added another impressive achievement to his resumè on Wednesday, being named the 2016 Eddie Robinson Award winner honoring the FCS Coach of the Year.

By directing the Bearkats to an unbeaten regular season and a No. 1 ranking in the STATS FCS Top 25, Keeler edged out The Citadel's Brent Thompson among 15 finalists representing all 13 FCS conferences. Voting was conducted by a national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.

"It's a great honor to receive an award named after one of the legendary coaches in the history of college football," Keeler said. "I know coach Robinson and my college coach, Tubby Raymond, had a relationship, and I know coach Raymond loved telling stories about coach Robinson because I know the respect that he had for coach Robinson."

Keeler oversaw one of the most dominant regular seasons in recent memory, with the Bearkats outscoring their 11 opponents by a 596-285 margin behind one of the most productive offenses in FCS history. That was followed with a 41-36 win over Chattanooga in the second round of the playoffs as quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe - one of three players invited to the announcement of the 2016 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award - threw five touchdown passes to set the subdivision's single-year record with 57.

Sam Houston State leads the FCS with averages of 53.1 points and 570.4 total yards - both school records - and ranks second in passing offense (385.8 ypg).

Keeler attained a significant milestone as well, earning career win No. 200 during the Bearkats' 63-28 rout of rival Stephen F. Austin on Oct. 1 to become the ninth-fastest coach to reach the mark across all levels. Thirty-seven of those victories have come in NCAA postseason games, and his 18-5 record in the FCS playoffs stands as the highest winning percentage among all active coaches with at least 15 games.

The 57-year-old is the third Southland Conference coach to claim the Robinson Award and first since McNeese's Tommy Tate in 2002. Keeler was a finalist two times previously, finishing fourth during a 2003 season in which he guided alma mater Delaware to a national title.

Keeler received 41 first-place votes and 442 points to narrowly beat out Thompson, who went 10-2 and led The Citadel to a No. 6 national seed in his first season as the Bulldogs' head coach. Thompson's successor, Mike Houston, finished third, having taken James Madison to an 11-1 mark and No. 5 national ranking in his debut with the Dukes.

Thompson garnered 37 first-place votes and 435 points, while Houston topped 22 ballots and received 318 points.

Keeler, whose Bearkats visit Houston's JMU squad in Friday's quarterfinals, will be recognized at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 6, the eve of the FCS Championship Game.

The final voting results:

1. K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston State: 41-33-22-16-7-442

2. Brent Thompson, The Citadel: 37-30-27-20-9-435

3. Mike Houston, James Madison: 22-22-27-13-13-318

4. Bubba Schweigert, North Dakota: 15-14-13-21-16-228

5. Chris Klieman, North Dakota State: 9-13-12-18-17-186

6. Jerry Mack, North Carolina Central: 6-8-14-12-10-138

7. Chris Villarrial, Saint Francis: 2-8-11-5-14-99

8. Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State: 5-7-4-6-16-93

9. Broderick Fobbs, Grambling State: 8-2-6-9-8-92

10. Rod Broadway, North Carolina A&T: 4-5-7-7-11-86

11. Andy Coen, Lehigh: 3-4-4-9-8-69

12. Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas: 2-4-3-8-13-64

13. Dale Lindsey, San Diego: 1-3-4-7-7-50

14. Bob Surace, Princeton: 1-3-1-5-4-34

15. Jason Simpson, UT Martin: 0-0-1-0-3-6

A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.


Delaware to Remove Required Athletic Donations in Sections A through N for 2017 Football Season.

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 12/01/2016

NEWARK, Del. -- University of Delaware Athletics announced Wednesday that required donations for all general seating areas in Delaware Stadium will be eliminated beginning with the upcoming 2017 football season.

Based on feedback from Blue Hens football fans, there will no longer be a donation requirement to purchase seats in Sections A-N beginning this fall. However, all required parking donations and box seat donations will remain the same.

Further specifics will be sent to current and former UD football season ticket holders as well as to prospective tickets buyers in the coming months.

November 30, 2016 - Chrissi Rawak - Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Service

Dear Blue Hens,
Since coming to Delaware, it has been very clear to me how much the Delaware Football program means to so many and I am committed to ensuring that Delaware Football once again thrives in a way that will lead to championships for years to come. To get there, we must strengthen our foundation so that we can re-build this program. That foundation starts with you. Over these last several months, I have received very valuable feedback that I can tell you is helping to shape our path forward. I understand there has been frustration and disappointment over some of the decisions made in recent years, decisions that may have impacted you or those you know directly. We have listened. I am pleased to share with you that, beginning in 2017, we will be removing the requirement to make athletic donations in seat sections A through N. This is a change in policy that has been asked for by our 
constituents and one that will result in a direct savings to many. We hope this decision will demonstrate to you that we are listening. The donations for premium box seating and season parking will remain in place. More specific information regarding pricing and how to purchase new season tickets will be available in January. This is the first of many steps to come. We are in an important moment for the Delaware football program, and we need you: We need you here with us, and we need you to help us bring others here. I 
believe we are on the road to reviving the winning traditions and we want you to be a part of it with us. 

There is something very special here at Delaware, not just in Athletics but also across this entire University, the Newark Community and the State, and the future is very bright when we are all in it together. 

Go Hens!
Chrissi Rawak
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Service


Delaware Athletics Family Mourns Death of Former Longtime Football Defensive Coordinator Ed Maley

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 11/19/2016

NEWARK,  Del. -- Ed Maley, who dedicated nearly 50 years of excellence to University of Delaware athletics as a student-athlete, coach, and administrator, passed away Friday after a recent illness.

“Mal”, who was inducted into the University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 28, was 82. He had recently been hospitalized at Christiana Hospital after suffering a fall.

A moment of silence was held prior to Delaware’s football season finale vs. Villanova this past Saturday at Delaware Stadium.

Funeral services are set for this Saturday, Nov. 26 at the St. Thomas More Oratory, 45 Lovett Ave., Newark, Del., 19711. Visitation is from 11 am until 1 pm with a memorial mass scheduled for 1 p.m. the burial will be private.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Maley was a varsity football standout, a coach in three sports, and an administrator before his retirement in 2001. He was a starting lineman for Hall of Fame head coach Dave Nelson and led teams to a record of 21-6-1 over three varsity seasons in 1954-56.

After earning his degree in sociology in 1957 from Delaware and a stint in the Army, he joined the coaching ranks in 1959 and began a 32-year career coaching the defense and leading Delaware to national prominence.

During his tenure, the Blue Hens won four national championships (1963, 1971, 1972, and 1979) under Nelson and Hall of Fame head coach Tubby Raymond, made nine NCAA Tournament appearances, captured 13 Lambert Cup trophies, and posted four Boardwalk Bowl victories.

“Mal was a cornerstone of our football program for nearly a half-century” said Raymond. “He did everything and he did everything well. He was a fine coach, a good recruiter, and an outstanding administrator. He was a wonderful guy to have at your side on the sidelines. We are going to miss him very much.”

Maley coached the defensive line (1962-73) and linebackers (1974-90) during his tenure and served as defensive coordinator in 1979-1990.

He also enjoyed a successful two-year stint as men’s lacrosse coach, posting the best winning pct. (.667) in UD history and leading the Blue Hens to an 8-2 record and a MAC title in 1961. Following his retirement, he served UD Athletics as an admissions officer for 10 years. He also served as freshman men’s basketball coach during the 1960-61 season and was an associate professor at the University from 1982 until 2001. 

He and his late wife, Patricia, a 1957 UD graduate and former Blue Hen cheerleader, had three children and three granddaughters. All three of their children were student-athletes and UD graduates. Kris was a three-year letterwinner in volleyball and a team captain in 1980; Bill was a standout defensive back for the UD football team in 1980-82; and Kara was a three-year letterwinner in volleyball and was co-captain twice in 1985 and 1986.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Ed Maley Football Scholarship Fund or to the UD football program (Office of Development and Alumni Relations, University of Delaware, 83 East Main Street, 3rd Floor, Newark, Del.,19716).