Charlotte’s first season in Conference USA resulted in a disappointing 2-10, 0-8 record. With more than a dozen starters returning, there is reason for optimism. The schedule will be a challenge this year, if the team can enter October at .500 they will have a good shot at going bowling for the first time program history.
With visions of bowl rings dancing in our heads, we explore this season’s most vital 49ers.
Kalif Phillips – RB (5-20, 205, Sr) – Phillips has been a member of the 1,000 Yard Club and should be able to join the club again this year. He was fifth in C-USA in rushing yards per game last year and averaged over 5.2 yards per carry. Behind the large and experienced offensive line, our expectations are for a great farewell season.
Kevin Olsen – QB (6-3, 220, Jr) – Olsen’s biggest claims to fame seem to be that he is the younger brother of the Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen. Olsen was a four star recruit that originally attended the University of Miami and then transferred to Riverside City College where he had a 56.3 completion percentage and threw for 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns. If Olsen stumbles, look for Cody Keith ECU graduate transfer and former four star recruit to step into the void.
Austin Duke – WR (5-9, 161, Sr) – The top four receivers return for the 49ers this season, led by Mr. Duke who had 53 catches for 534 yards last season. Mr. Duke has led the program in receiving each of the last three years. Ranks seventh among active FBS players with a 77.5 YPG average. The talented receiving corps will depend heavily upon the emergence of a consistent quarterback.
Larry Ogunjobi – NT (6-3, 294, Sr) – Mr. Ogunjobi has started every game in the history of Charlottte 49ers football. career leader in tackles (152), TFL (35.3), sacks (10.0) and QB hurries (23). Last year he tied for second in C-USA with 14.5 tackles for loss and was the #3 tackler on the team. A second team All Conference selection, he can hold his own against anyone in the country. Double majoring in Computer Science and Biology with an eye on Med School (although I think he will go the Robert Smith route and play a few years of professional football first). Larry if you know anything about WordPress . . . we have some questions for you!
Nick Cook – LB (6-1, 233, Sr) – The leading tackler on the team last year with 73 stops and 6 tackles for loss. Mr. Cook’s 14 tackles in the season-finale at Rice are the most by a 49er in an FBS game. Continued improvement on the defense will require Mr. Cook and his fellow linebackers to hold their own against the run and help keep pressure off the talented secondary.
This is a talented team, the senior class is the first group of seniors to go through their entire eligibility with the program. If there is a group dedicated and determined enough to lift the 49ers above their previous ceiling, this is it.