By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Division III Rowan University Profs are about a week into their preseason workouts in Glassboro, New Jersey as they prepare for the 2017 college football season.

The Profs, members of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, are coming off a 6-4 season. A big storyline here in 2017 for Rowan is all the new faces that will have to play key roles with just nine starters (five offense, three defense, one special teams) returning.

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“This is the first time, I think probably in our program history, that we have more new players than returning players,” Rowan head coach Jay Accorsi tells KYW Newsradio. “But that’s good, you get a chance to mold a lot of good young men, (and) it’s going pretty well. I think the returners came in in really good shape. I think the new players are doing a good job of following directions so far. It’s going well.”

One key position where the Profs will have a new starter is quarterback where a sophomore takes over the offense.

“Naldy Tavarez was in the program last year, worked his way to be the back-up,” Accorsi says. “[He] did a great job in the spring. Came into camp in great shape. I think we’re going to have to grow with him a little bit, because he doesn’t have a lot of game experience, but I think he’s worked really hard, he’s been very diligent. We’re going to have to learn a little bit to not ask him to do a lot early on. I think if we’re able to run the ball and kind of protect him a little bit early, I think he’s going to develop into a really good [quarterback] for us.”

On defense, Accorsi likes the potential he sees with his defensive backs.

“In the secondary, we’re inexperienced, but I think we’re very athletic,” he says. “So it’s a lot like last year, where we had a lot of experience in the secondary and could do a lot of things, I think this year we’re athletic, so I think we’re going to have to go through some growing pains, but eventually we might be able to do some different things.”

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One veteran the Profs will lean on heavily in the secondary is senior safety Shaquille Lee who had three interceptions and six tackles for loss last season. With all the new faces, Lee relishes being a leader on this team.


Senior defensive back Shaquille Lee had three interceptions for Rowan last season. (Credit – Rowan University Athletics)

“Ever since I came here, I’ve felt like I was a leader,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “I’m that guy that pumps the team up during practice, sometimes it might be sluggish. I just hype the team up to compete with each other and get better.”


The Profs open the season with a tough non-conference match-up as they welcome a talented Widener University team to Glassboro on Saturday night September 2nd.

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“We’re going to find out early on how good we possible could be,” Accorsi says.