Local college notebook: Wolverines starting workouts

DOVER — Wesley College still doesn’t know when its next football game will be.

But the Wolverines are going to start working toward it anyway.

Wesley football players returned to campus on Friday to begin a week of conditioning before the rest of the students come back to Dover.

Delaware State and Delaware are also planning to hold football practice this fall but the Wolverines are the only ones starting before school opens.

Chip Knapp

“It’s the school’s attempt to take a step forward in the name of normalcy,” said Wesley coach Chip Knapp. “We want to get people back together and see if we can work through the difficulties that are facing us with the Covid virus.”

The Wolverines will be expected to follow safety protocols, of course, most notably staying in small groups of players with the same coach throughout the day.

The players will also be tested every week through a company being used by both Wesley and DelState.

While the fall season has been canceled, the Wolverines are hoping to play a short conference schedule in the spring. They want to be ready for it.

“We’re looking at it as a great opportunity to get together in a socially-distant way,” said Knapp. “The priority is on safety but also on getting a chance to develop our skills, become a better team and just continue the college process — making progress toward your degree.”

Knapp has hired a new offensive coordinator, who comes to Wesley with some pretty impressive credentials.

Jim Purtill spent 15 seasons as the head coach at St. Norberts, taking the Wisconsin school to the NCAA Division III playoffs 10 times and posting a record of 130-30 between 1999-2013.

The 64-year-old, who started his full-time coaching career in 1988, also spent some time at Cornell. That’s where he met Knapp, a former quarterback for the Big Red who was just getting into coaching.

Purtill replaces longtime assistant Steve Azzanesi, who was hired as the OC at Delaware State.

DSU spring possibilities

One of the spring football schedule possibilities for the MEAC is splitting the league up into two divisions.

DelState would be in the north with Morgan State, Howard and Norfolk State. Under the plan, the Hornets would play each of those three teams twice with the north and south winners meeting in a conference title game.

The south would have a five-team division and use a slightly different format.

There’s also the chance that the NCAA will hold Division I FCS playoffs in the spring. While DSU coach Rod Milstead is disappointed that so many schools won’t be playing in the fall, he does think it’s good that most FCS programs are now aiming for a spring season.

“Everyone’s on a level playing field now,” said Milstead. “Everyone’s in the same boat.

“We have to understand that this is something that no one wanted and you couldn’t foresee. For the schools and those that make the decisions to say, ‘Hey, we understand your passion, we want to do something for you, why not move it to the spring?’ I’m all for that.”

Notes

• Delaware State bowler Alexis Neuer is one of 161 conference-level honorees for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. The NCAA will announce the top 30 honorees on ncaa.org in September.

Neuer is the first DSU athlete to reach this stage in the process since Jazmyne Hefflefinger was a top 10 Division I finalist in 2012.

• Former Delaware State basketball standout NaJai Pollard has signed her second professional contract, joining Turkish women’s team Duzce Belediye. Pollard played in Sweden last year, leading the league in scoring with 26.3 points per game.

• Delaware State student-athletes are joining their MEAC peers and others from HBCU’s in a nationwide voter registration campaign. The “HBCUs All In” is designed to challenge each team to have 100 percent of its players as registered voters.

• Former Delaware baseball player Nick Patten is returning to the Blue Hens as an undergrad assistant coach. Patten was selected in the 28th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by Pittsburgh and spent the last two seasons playing in the Pirates organization as a first baseman.

• The University of Delaware had 264 student-athletes recognized by the CAA as members of the Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll for the spring semester. Student-athletes need a GPA of 3.0 to earn the honor.

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