The Muskingum University football team, under the direction of veteran Head Coach Al Logan, returns a wealth of talent to the field in 2015. The Muskies have 24 lettermen back, including 11 starters on offense, 11 starters on defense and two starters on special teams.
The Muskies spread offense, which racked up 283.9 yards and 17.4 points per game, will be directed by senior quarterback Cody Williams. Last Season, Williams threw for 709 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 327 yards and six scores.
"Cody's a playmaker for us and has a solid understanding of the offense," said Coach Logan. "I expect him to have a great senior year."
Joining Williams in the backfield will be junior running back Melvin Smith who was named Offensive Most Valuable Player for the 2014 season. Smith rushed for 807 yards and six touchdowns and also added 68 receiving yards.
"Melvin is going to be an outstanding running back," said Coach Logan. "We are expecting big things from him this year."
Senior Dominic Bell returns at fullback with 147 yards on the season with one touchdown.
Senior Brandon Hardy and sophomores Aron Sutton and Damon Jones return as the top receivers for the Muskies. Hardy returns from injury and Sutton hauled in 17 catches for 145 yards. Sutton also led the Muskie kick return game with 534 yards on 26 returns. Jones added nine receptions for 142 yards and one score.
"I anticipate our receivers having a good campaign and making big plays," stated Coach Logan.
The offensive line will be anchored by the senior duo of Zac Snively and captain Sam Lucas. Snively is a two-year starter and Lucas, a captain, has started every season and is a two-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference honoree. Also adding depth and experience to the line will be the senior trio of Christopher Hoffman, Jacob Clark and Patrick Hoben.
"The offensive line might be the best unit we've had at Muskingum since I've been here," said Logan. "The group had a great work ethic during the off season and the staff is excited to see them on the field this fall."
Junior captain Samuel Green, who was named Third Team All-North Region and First Team All-OAC, will return as one of the top punters in the nation. Green led the league with a 39.9 punting average and placed a league-best 18 punts inside the 20. He booted a career-long punt of 76 yards and is a two-time all-league selection.
"Samuel returns as one of the best punters in the nation," said Coach Logan. "He's a real weapon for us."
On the defensive side, junior captain linebacker Chaney Fulton will lead the unit. Fulton, an Honorable Mention All-American, the OAC Gene Slaughter Co-Most Outstanding Linebacker, First Team All-OAC and D3Football.com First Team All-North Region honoree, led the OAC with 97 tackles, which included 58 solo stops. He ranked third in the conference in tackles for loss with 13 for 68 yards, ranked fifth in sacks with six and ranked 10th in fumbles recovered with two. Fulton also notched a career-best 16 tackles in Muskingum's game at Ohio Northern.
"Chaney is a very good player and we are excited to have him back," said Coach Logan. "He brings a high level of enthusiasm and emotion to the defense. Chaney understands the game of football and does some things you can't coach."
Joining Fulton to help anchor the defensive unit will be senior linebacker Zach Barry, senior defensive lineman Jordan Lee and senior defensive lineman Barry Parks. Zach Barry was third on the team with 68 stops and Lee, a captain, had 16 tackles on the season. Parks tallied 21 tackles with two sacks. The defensive secondary will be led by senior Dorian Maynard. Maynard had 31 tackles and a team-high five interceptions.
"Zach, Barry, Jordan and Dorain will help anchor the defense and should make big plays throughout the season," stated Coach Logan.
Muskingum will also benefit from a blue-chip recruiting class that will add talent and depth to the team.
Muskingum opens the season at home against Waynesburg on Saturday, September 5 at 1:00 p.m in McConagha Stadium. Muskingum's first Ohio Athletic Conference game is at Mount Union on Saturday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m.