Producing its fifth consecutive non-losing season with a 4-4 mark in 2001, Wesleyan football ranks third in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in winning percentage over the last five seasons with a 27-13 record. With the Little Three games vs. Amherst and Williams always a focal point, Wesleyan will be looking to improve upon its 2-8 Little Three mark as Wesleyan stands 25-5 vs. the remainder of the conference. Last year Wesleyan's Homecoming encounter with Williams was televised live by NESN. That continued a tradition begun during the 2000 season when the Wesleyan-Amherst contest became the first game to be broadcast live from Andrus Field over a local cable network. The Homecoming game of 2002 between Wesleyan and Amherst once again will grace the airways over NESN on October 19.
Wesleyan returns 36 of 44 lettermen from 2001 with 17 of 24 starters back as well. Notable among the returnees to the Wesleyan lineup in 2002 is QB Brennan Carney, a second-team all-NESCAC pick last year. He was the conference offensive rookie of the year in 2000. Joining Carney are 16 other starters including tri-captains Steve Woodruff (DB), Greg Thomas (RB) and Kevin Doyle (OL). Carney already has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in his first two seasons, completing 45.8 percent of his passes and connecting for 25 TDs in Wesleyan's aerial-oriented offense. Doyle was a mainstay on an rebuilt offensive line while Thomas had a 4.3-yard average on 48 carries in 2001. Woodruff paced the secondary in total tackles last season with 84 and was second on the team overall in stops.
Other key returnees on defense for Wesleyan are DT Tacuma Bradley ; DEs Bryan Kinneen, Sean Buckley and Mark Nordstrom ; LBs Keilembo Ellison, Adam Faris and Dan Quinones ; and DBs Dave Laferriere and Danny Ackil.
Offensively, the Cardinals have other veterans in linemen Greg Polin, Matt Brooks and Brendan Kelly ; receivers Pat Moffett, Dan Long and James Wallace ; and running back Young Douglas, who led the team with 413 yards, a 4.9-yard average and a NESCAC-leading 11 rushing TDs.
Placekicker Vin Balsamo, an academic all-NESCAC pick in 2001 along with tri-captain Greg Thomas, has been a two-year starter and punter Sam Fletcher with backup Jim Rooney also return.
Wesleyan has a solid crop of newcomers joining the ranks which should bolster the troops while other returnees have the ability to step it up and move into spots as major contributors this season.