Coastal Carolina ready for 2019 football season
The Coastal Carolina football team is young – one of the youngest teams in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, in fact.
Coastal has 90 players among 125 on its roster who are redshirt sophomores or younger – 41 freshmen, 25 redshirt freshmen, 6 sophomores and 18 redshirt sophomores.
CCU’s 66 total freshmen are the second most in the country to Nebraska and comprise 53 percent of the team’s roster, which is the third-highest percentage nationally entering Saturday’s season-opening game against Eastern Michigan at 3:30 p.m. at Brooks Stadium.
“We’ve had a lot of young guys getting a lot of experience during camp and I think our best days are ahead of us,” CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the young team grow.”
Being young is a familiar refrain for the Chants since moving up to the Sun Belt Conference in 2017 from the Football Championship Subdivision.
In 2017, CCU boasted the youngest offensive line in FBS with two true freshmen, two redshirt freshmen and a sophomore. Last year, the Chants were the youngest team in the nation with 92 underclassmen – freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores – and just 13 seniors or grad students on a 121-player roster. The 92 underclassmen were the most in FBS and CCU’s underclassmen percentage was second to Illinois. Coastal went 3-9 and 5-7 in the past two seasons.
Coastal’s 11 combined fourth- and fifth-year seniors this season are tied for the fourth fewest in FBS with Appalachian State, behind only Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and Penn State.
“We’re going to have to do a good job of making sure our guys stay in the moment,” Chadwell said. “They’re going to make some bad plays, they’re going to make some mistakes, and as a coaching staff we’ve got to continue to build up their confidence. That will be a challenge, but hopefully through what we’ve done during camp they’re prepared for those situations”
The Chants are still trying to catch up to established FBS teams with a full complement of 85 scholarships awarded, which they have a chance to reach in 2020. They have 77 scholarship players this season, Chadwell said.
The inaugural year of the NCAA transfer portal – which allowed players to register for a transfer without permission from their schools – took some experience from the Chants, who lost seven players to the portal (six actually transferred) and added just one.
Redshirt junior wide receiver Sam Denmark (6-0, 180) of Hanahan transferred from Virginia Tech but is not listed on the two-deep wide receiver depth chart.
“We would be a lot closer than we are [without transfers],” Chadwell said of the 85-scholarship threshold. “It did hurt our depth losing some guys, it hurt our depth tremendously, but it is what it is right now. After this year hopefully if we sign a full class this year . . . it should get us to that 85 number going forward, then it’s just continuing to build off of that.”
The Chants have received 10 verbal commitments thus far in the class of 2020, Chadwell said.
Chadwell would like have an older team in the program’s third season in the Sun Belt, but instead has more of a foundation to build on. “You’d like to have a decent mix going into your third year, but that’s not what it is,” Chadwell said. “So what we’ve got to do now is the ones that are here we’ve got to develop that talent and continue to build it.
“I don’t want to wait. I want to be good now. So we’ve got seniors and juniors that have been building and working for an opportunity to put a good product on the field and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Sophomore quarterback Fred Payton, who was named the opening-game starter this week by Chadwell, received endorsements from a pair of teammates and additional support from Chadwell at a press conference Wednesday.
He beat out fellow sophomore Bryce Carpenter after both played in seven games as freshmen.
“He’s looked awesome,” junior guard Trey Carter said. “He had a great spring, great camp. He did a real good job when we did our scrimmaging type stuff. I’m sure you’ll still see Bryce at some point in the game but Fred definitely earned his job for sure.”
Added Chadwell: “Not that he didn’t make mistakes, but he was able to rebound from the mistakes a lot faster than he has in the past, so that tells you his confidence level is higher. . . . He’s really matured in his game, in his preparation from the summer to now.
“I think the team sees how he works and how he prepares and is behind him.”
In good health
The Chants are coming out of fall camp relatively healthy.
The only potential starter lost to injury during preseason practices is redshirt sophomore Will Webster (6-4, 285), who was pushing for a starting position on the offensive line. He won’t be available for Saturday’s opener with an upper body injury that could keep him out of action for more games. “So far everybody’s relatively healthy coming out of camp,” Chadwell said.
On the lookout
CCU has four players named to preseason watch lists for national awards.
Sophomore place kicker Massimo Biscardi is on the Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award list after being a semifinalist last season when he hit 13 of 16 field goal attempts.
Though he’s on CCU’s depth chart as a guard, Carter is on the list for the Rimington Trophy for the most outstanding center in Division I, sophomore Isaiah Likely was named to the John Mackey tight end award list, and junior Charles Ouverson of Murrells Inlet and St. James High is on the Ray Guy punter award list.
Junior linebacker Silas Kelly is one of 86 FBS players named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list for community service. He has participated in CCU athletics’ community events including A Night to Shine and Caring for Kindergarteners, as well as reading to children at various schools around the Conway and Myrtle Beach area.
Kelly has assisted with the running of a special needs play day at Myrtle Beach High, participated in a career day at an elementary school and discussed faith and Christianity at University Christian High School in Jacksonville, Fla., last season when he and the Chanticleers were displaced for two weeks due to Hurricane Florence.
Chadwell has a weekly radio show on WRNN Hot Talk 99.5 FM beginning Thursday that will run 14 consecutive weeks through Nov. 26.
The Coach Chadwell Radio Show will be held at 810 Billiards & Bowling in Conway, across U.S. 501 from the CCU campus.
It will be held each week from 7-8 p.m., and is on Thursdays with the exception of Nov. 5 and Nov. 26 shows, which are on Tuesdays.
Chadwell will be interviewed by Joe Cashion, the “Voice of the Chanticleers,” and fans are encouraged to attend. The show can also be heard online at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/coastal/.