If you know anything about Old Dominion football, you've heard of the exploits of their senior quarterback, Taylor Heinicke. But as the team prepares for its first season in FBS and Conference USA, the signal caller from Georgia is not the only player that the Monarchs' opponents need account for in their game-plan.
Antonio Vaughan, R-Sr. WR
With leading receiver Larry Pinkard (1,020 yards, nine touchdowns) being kicked off the team last month for what was called a "team rules violation", Vaughan, the Paul Hornung Award nominee, will be Heinicke's top target going into the season. Vaughan did well for himself last year: 843 yards and nine touchdowns on 60 catches, so the drop-off won't be severe. ODU also used Vaughan frequently on special teams, and even as a running back at times last year.
Cam Boyd, Sr. RB
The Monarchs were quite balanced at running back last year (four players ran for over 300 yards; two of those players, Boyd being one, crested the 400-yard plateau). But with leading rusher Colby Goodwyn (483 yards on 104 carries, 12 touchdowns) gone, look for Boyd to get a good share of the carries out of the backfield. The senior received three starts last year and played in all but two games.
Fellonte Misher, Jr. S
When the Monarchs lost their top five tacklers at the end of the 2012 season, they needed someone to fill the void. Enter Misher, who as a sophomore in his first season as the full-time starter at safety, led the team in tackles (95) while also recording two picks and a pair of fumble recoveries. Now that he's playing on the FBS level, he just might get a couple of pro looks if his level of play can carry over to the upper division.
Richie Staton, So. LB
Whenever a true freshman makes a major impact on your team, it brings hope for what he's only going to get better with experience — but that also brings a sense of worry that he won't carry on that level of play to his sophomore season. Such is the case with Staton. The local product (Phoebus HS in Hampton) started all but one game at MLB and racked up 72 tackles, fourth on the squad, while leading the team in sacks (4.0) and TFLs (10.5). Can he avoid the sophomore slump? We'll see. But Staton's emergence as a first-year player has been a great story for this program.