DURHAM, N.H.- Four members of the University of New Hampshire football team were named captains for the 2001 season. The official announcement was made today by third-year head coach Sean McDonnell. Named captains for next year were four seniors: quarterback Ryan Day (Manchester, N.H.), offensive center Jason Ball (Londonderry, N.H.), defensive end Jon Oosterhuis (Guelph, Ontario) and strong safety Bryce Scottron (Hingham, Mass.).
"What makes this group special is the fact that we have a good cross section of players from different areas of the football field," said McDonnell. "The last time we had four or more captains was back during the 1995 season when we had Chris Bourdon, Sean Finneran, Mike Foley, Rob McCoy, and Matt Mezquita. We have four players this year who are all respected by their teammates, plus two are from the Granite State in Day and Ball, while Scottron made the team as a walk-on."
When it comes to leadership, no player provides more to the UNH effort than Day, who McDonnell says "does all of the little things that he and the team need to be done to be successful." Heading into his third season as the starting quarterback, Day is one of the most experienced field generals in the Atlantic 10. Last year he connected on 199x346 passes for 19 touchdowns and 2,492 yards of passing offense. Among the conference's statistical leaders, Day was fourth in average passing yards per contest with 226.5. He was also third in total offense with 244.5 yards per game.
Ball will be one of UNH's top returning offensive linemen at 6-2, 300-pounds. A fifth-year senior, he will lead a relatively younger offensive line in 2001 following the graduation losses of NFL hopefuls Ryan Ward and Al Willis. Dubbed "one of the hardest-working guys on the field" by McDonnell, Ball should be a contender for numerous post-season honors after being named first-team All-New England and second-team All-Atlantic 10 following the 2000 campaign. Ball has been a starter at center the past two seasons, helping the UNH offense to average over 400 yards of offense for two consecutive years.
Oosterhuis suffered through some painful knee injuries last season and underwent double ACL surgery on both knees at the end of the 2000 campaign. Despite playing at only 80 percent, he still managed to compile 38 total tackles last season, good for seventh-best on the squad. He also checked in with five tackles for a loss. According to head athletic trainer Jon Dana, Oosterhuis is on pace to return to action in the fall. He also is a fifth-year senior who will anchor a veteran defensive line in 2001.
Last, but not least, is Scottron, who comes from a long line of UNH walk-ons who not only made the football team, but also excelled and were eventually selected a team captain by their peers. Scottron, along with junior free safety Czar Wiley, will provide the experience for a relatively young and inexperienced defensive backfield. Last season, Scottron, who is the brother of former UNH fullback Ryan Scottron, compiled 37 total tackles for the Wildcats and notched three pass deflections and one sack.
The Wildcats are in the midst of spring practice, which culminates in the annual Blue/White Scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, May 5th. The action starts at 1 p.m. at Cowell Stadium.