DURHAM, N.H. – Since their last playoff appearance in 2017, University of New Hampshire (UNH) football has been put through the wringer. From losing their starting quarterback Trevor Knight to injury in 2018, to head coach Sean McDonnell being sidelined through the 2019 season due to bladder cancer, and more recently having their 2021 spring season shut down after just one game, the last three years have been full of hardships. Now four years removed from a 14-year playoff streak, an influx of young talent and a collective hunger among them exists inside the depths of Wildcat Stadium.
At Monday afternoon’s media day there seemed to be a common theme among players on both sides of the ball.
“I think we’ve got dogs on this team,” said redshirt first-year linebacker Zedane Williams. “I think we’ve got something really special brewing up here. Nobody plays harder than us.”
Sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer echoed the same confidence, citing the lack of national attention the program has received.
“UNH is UNH,” said Brosmer. “Historically we’ve had amazing football teams, but we’ve lost that over the past few years, so there’s something brewing in the locker room right now. Most people don’t have us in the top-25, and we love that. We want to go show people that we can be top-10, No. 1 in the country, win the CAA, win a National Championship.”
The Wildcats’ lone national ranking came as a part of the Athlon Preseason Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Top-25 where they were slotted at No. 22. Other Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) programs represented in that poll were No. 1 James Madison University (JMU), No. 5 Delaware and No. 16 Villanova.
To get back to the pedigree that once existed in Durham, however, the team will have to go through some growing pains as many of their marquee players are still underclassmen.
Brosmer, now in his third offseason with UNH, only has approximately one season of game experience under his belt from 2019. The signal caller doesn’t feel that this has stunted his development at all, however. He explained how the practice reps have still helped progress his skills despite not being able to translate it to Saturdays much to this point.
Despite the youth among some of the team’s stars, the running back unit of junior Carlos Washington Jr. and sophomore Dylan Laube aren’t viewing that as a crutch to this group’s potential.
Both running backs explained how this core has been together for a few years, and it feels like the team is finally starting to hit their stride.
“I feel like the team is gelling together more this year,” noted Washington Jr. “I feel like we genuinely care about each other this year and that will take us a long way.”
On the defensive side, Williams admitted the group still has a lot to learn in the wake of losing leaders like Prince Smith Jr., Pop Lacey, Isiah Perkins, Josh Kania and Brian Carter to graduation. Nonetheless, the linebacker went as far to say that this team may have the fastest linebackers in the CAA between himself and sophomore Oleh Manzyk. He also made the claim that the Wildcats have the best defensive line in the conference being highlighted by juniors Gunner Gibson and Niko Kvietkus.
Laube noted how it seems like the country has forgotten about UNH over the past few seasons. The running back has one message for those who have slighted the Wildcats since their last postseason run in 2017.
“I think we’re coming different this year and we’re going to take every team one-by-one.”
The Wildcats will open their season on Sept. 2 in Stony Brook, N.Y. where they’ll square off against the Seawolves. The home opener will come on Sept. 11 as the team will welcome Towson into Wildcat Stadium.