Old Dominion football came in sixth in the Conference USA East last season, and today members of the media picked the Monarchs to finish in the same position this year. The preseason rankings predict little change in the standings across with board, with Florida Atlantic and North Texas projected to top their respective divisions and meet in the C-USA title game for the second consecutive year.
Monarchs fans will hope that the 19 players in head coach Bobby Wilder’s recruiting class can improve on the team’s 2017 conference record of 3-5. Three-star running back Elijah Davis headlines the group of incoming freshmen.
Davis rushed for 6,690 career yards in his stellar career with Heritage High School of Lynchburg, the most in Virginia high school history. The three-time all-state honoree led the entire country in high school rushing yards during his senior year, and contributed 61 touchdowns to help Heritage to the state championship game.
The receiving corps gained valuable size with the addition of 6-foot-5-inch wideout Nigel Fitzgerald. The Greensboro, N.C. native caught 51 passes for 973 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior at Dudley High School.
All three of the Monarchs’ 2017 All-Conference USA selections return to ODU this season, and the trio was also named to the coaches’ 2018 preseason all-conference team. Senior kick returner Isaiah Harper and junior punt returner Darrell Brown both led the league in average yards per return for their respective special teams duties last year. Senior defensive end Oshane Ximines racked up 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2017.
ODU kicks off the 2018 football season with a trip to Liberty on Sept. 1. The Monarchs will face Florida International in their home opener the following Saturday, Sept. 8.