The top Old Dominion football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
RB Ray Lawry, Jr.
Lawry will once again be Old Dominion’s signature player, provided he can hold off his surging competition. He’s led the team in rushing in each of his first two seasons, rising to Second Team All-Conference USA after rushing for 1,136 yards and 11 scores on 194 carries. Lawry also caught 21 balls for 152 yards and another touchdown deftly nuancing power with speed, routinely shedding tackles and exploding into the open field. He and Jeremy Cox afford the Monarchs a potent one-two punch on the ground.
WR Zach Pascal, Sr.
Pascal will go down as one of the best wide receivers in Old Dominion history. Coming off a Second Team All-Conference USA junior year, he’s now caught 128 passes for 1,718 yards and 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons. At 6-2 and 214 pounds, he represents a good target, with sure hands and a knack for picking up yards after the catch. With another solid year in 2016, Pascal could earn looks from pro scouts.
LB TJ Ricks, Sr.
Ricks took another big step in his evolution last season, parlaying a league-high 123 tackles, 5.5 stops for loss, 2.5 sacks, eight passes defended and two fumble recoveries into the All-Conference USA Second Team. The 6-0, 226-pound Ricks is a downhill run defender, with the range to cover a big chunk of the field. In 2015, he was a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy given to the top player who began his career as a walk-on.
QB David Washington, Sr.
Washington is ODU’s Greg Ward Jr., moving from quarterback to receiver before settling back behind center last fall. And he didn’t just settle in 2015. He lit a spark beneath a struggling attack, throwing eight touchdown passes in just four full games before suffering a devastating knee injury versus Southern Miss. The 6-3, 200-pound Washington is also an agile athlete who can make defenders miss in space. After winging it a year ago and completing 94-of-161 passes for 1,155 yards, those eight TDs and three picks, there’s justifiable excitement about Washington’s potential with a full offseason to prepare.
WR Jonathan Duhart, Jr.
In Duhart and senior Zach Pascal, the Monarchs boast one of Conference USA’s better pass-catching duos. Duhart came into his own last season by catching 47 passes for 636 yards and eight touchdowns. He will use his considerable size, 6-3 and 212 pounds, as an advantage, boxing out defenders for the ball and providing his quarterback with an enormous catch-radius.
DE Oshane Ximines, Soph.
Old Dominion has the potential to be feisty at the point of attack in 2016. The tackles are proven and Ximines will be the catalyst off the edge. He enjoyed a solid debut after redshirting in 2014, leading the Monarchs in tackles for loss (7.5), sacks (5) and quarterback hurries (9). The 6-3, 240-pound Ximines is properly built to play STUD, a position that incorporates the job description an end and an outside linebacker.
DE Bunmi Rotimi, Jr.
Rotimi can line up on the inside, but he moves and produces like a 6-4, 280-pound defensive end. The former walk-on, who has already earned a scholarship, started 11 games and notched 36 tackles, seven stops for loss and 4.5 sacks. Rotimi is used as a situational pass rusher in Norfolk, and he ranks among the league’s best interior linemen at beating blocks and ratcheting up backfield pressure.
NT Rashaad Coward, Sr.
Bunmi Rotimi is ODU’s best pass rushing tackle. From the nose, Coward is the team’s premier run stuffer. The Brooklyn native is coming off his first full season as a starter, leading the Monarchs’ defensive linemen with 47 tackles. At 6-5 and 307 pounds, Coward is the biggest of the program’s starting linemen, providing the front wall with much-needed girth.
S Justice Davila, Jr.
Davila became an integral part of the Monarch defensive backfield in 2015, starting 10 games at free safety. And despite missing a contest, he was third on the squad with 89 tackles to go along with four pass breakups. Davila is a 6-0, 191-pound junior who can compete for all-league honors if he develops as much in 2016 as he did a season ago.
C Troy Butler, Sr.
Butler on the interior is Old Dominion’s brightest light in an otherwise dark unit. He was the embodiment of versatility in 2015, starting games at center, left guard and right tackle. The 6-3, 313-pound Butler is a student of the game, allowing for the frequent position switches, and he’ll look to be the new anchor of a group replacing three of last year’s starters.