Coach: Jason Estep, 12th season (97-27)
2017 Record: 10-1, 5-0 in CISAA
Returning Starters: Offense, 5; Defense, 7
The defending champs return star quarterback Garrett Shrader and a strong supporting cast to go with a very good defense. If they figure out their linemen on both sides of the ball, they’re the team to beat once again.
Mississippi State commit Garrett Shrader returns after the all-state star threw for 2,300 yards, ran for nearly 800 and racked up 34 touchdowns.
Ben Williams returns at running back after missing much of last year. Josh Eboboko, Chip Kasay and Henry Rutledge combined for about 800 yards and eight TDs. They will see plenty of the ball.
Ricky Kofoed was the Knights’ second-leading receiver from his tight end spot.
The Knights receivers aren’t super experienced, but Logan Jones, Micah Whittle, Calvin Fernandez, Hudson Collins, Wes Turley and JB Awolowo will figure it out.
Sammy Henderson is a returning starter up front. He’s joined by Nick Greene, Chase Preston, Mason Diel, Cameron Golzar, Ben Stokley and Blake Long, a group that will form the line.
The secondary is a big strength with Wake Forest commit Jeremiah Gray and Obi Egbuna at the corners and Williams, Awolowo, Kasay and LJ Brown at safety.
The Knights’ base 3-4 front will be formed by Blake Long, Ethan Cherne, Kofoed and JV call-up Grayson Cadd.
The linebackers are a strength any time Coastal Carolina commit JT Killen is on the field. Cherne, Kofoed, Jere Drummond along with JV call-ups Sawyer Sams and Jimmy Bailey will vie for time with freshman Hudson Jones.
Cameron Hicks is the long snapper for kicker Nathan Collins and freshman punter Ben Shropshire. Rutledge, Kasay, Williams, Awolowo and Eboboko will handle kickoff returns. Egbuna will field punts.