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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Florida Atlantic
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  OCT 5 CONFERENCE USA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Florida Atlantic senior OLB Leighton McCarthy made the move from defensive end, a position he played his first three seasons at FAU, to outside linebacker during the preseason. The redshirt senior's efforts paid off with 10 tackles, including four tackles for a loss, and three sacks - all career highs - in a 21-17 win over Charlotte. The Apopka, Florida, native also forced a key fourth quarter fumble to help preserve the Owls' win. McCarthy's second tackle of the game was a sack for a loss of nine yards which was key in limiting the 49ers to a field goal. In the third quarter, McCarthy had a sack for a loss of three yards, but more importantly he forced a fumble on the play which was recovered by fellow linebacker Caliph Brice at the Charlotte 16. Just one play later the Owls scored and took their first lead of the game. McCarthy would play a critical role in holding that lead with two more tackles in the fourth quarter, including another for TFL for a loss of one, setting up an Owls sack, followed by a punt on the next two plays. - Conference USA Football

(DS#61 OLB) rSr/2021 OLB Leighton McCarthyFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Conference USA Football
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  With the start of the season, FAU Willie Taggart and his son - Willie Taggart, Jr. - became the sixth current father-son, head coach-player duo at the same FBS school. "What's weird sometimes is when he calls me coach," Taggart said entering the season. "For 18 years I've been getting "dad", and now it's "coach". It's like "what are you doing buddy?" Other than that, it's no different." - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#999 QB) Fr/2024 QB Willie Taggart JrFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  Nick Tronti accounted for three touchdowns, coach Willie Taggart collected his first win at Florida Atlantic and the Owls started their season with a 21-17 win over Charlotte in a Conference USA opener on Saturday night. Trailing 10-0, Tronti broke loose for a 49-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, and then tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Logan Peterson. The Owls (1-0, 1-0) forced a fumble on the next series, and Tronti connected with T.J. Chase on a 16-yard touchdown two plays later. Tre Harbison III bulled in from the 1 for Charlotte to cap the scoring with 13 minutes left. Inside the final two minutes, the 49ers drove to the FAU 9 when time expired. Tronti was 11 of 22 for 98 yards passing and added 94 yards rushing on 10 carries. Chris Reynolds was 24-of-32 passing for 314 yards with a touchdown pass to lead Charlotte (0-2, 0-1). Harbison finished with 49 yards rushing on 17 carries. Seating was limited to 20% capacity at 29,419-seat FAU Stadium. Social-distancing measures were in effect and masks were mandatory. - Florida Atlantic/AP College Football

(DS#37 QB) rJr/2022 QB Nick TrontiFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Florida Atlantic/AP College Football
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  The news D'Marcus Adams had been waiting for finally came last week. After nearly eight months of waiting, Adams - a redshirt sophomore wide receiver who joined FAU from Florida State - got the call from Owls coach Willie Taggart that the NCAA approved his transfer waiver. His excitement was palpable during a teleconference with reporters Tuesday, four days after he made the announcement on social media that he'll be eligible to play this season after enrolling at Florida Atlantic in January. "When you get a call from the head coach, you know it's something serious," Adams said with a grin, with the news meaning he'll be eligible for the Owls' season and home opener versus Charlotte on Saturday. "When I got the call and I heard the news, I just started smiling. My cheeks were hurting so much." Adams once again has the opportunity to play for Taggart, who coached the 6-foot receiver during his two seasons with FSU. - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#999 WR) rSo/2023 WR DMarcus AdamsFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  Redshirt junior Nick Tronti will be FAU's starting quarterback for its season opener against Georgia Southern on Saturday, Owls coach Willie Taggart told reporters Monday morning. Tronti was considered the front-runner for the starting role after the departure of Chris Robison, who was the starter the previous two seasons. The former Indiana quarterback was the backup quarterback last season and beat out redshirt junior Justin Agner, redshirt freshman Javion Posey and true freshman Willie Taggart Jr. in what Taggart called a "good battle" for the starting job. "He has the most experience out of the guys and he's been consistent throughout training camp," Taggart said. "We have four guys we can go out and win with, and I think that's what made it tough because all those guys were making plays throughout training camp."

Taggart said the coaching staff made the decision to name the 2016 Florida Mr. Football recipient the starting quarterback after the team's most recent scrimmage Sunday. "When it came down to it," Taggart added, "we thought Nick with his experience would be the best way for us to start the season." Tronti completed 17 passes on 22 attempts for 180 yards for two touchdowns and one interception in 11 games with the Owls in 2019, and excelled as a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 239 yards and two touchdowns on 51 attempts. - Sun-Sentinel


(DS#37 QB) rJr/2022 QB Nick TrontiFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  Whenever he's asked about the defense, FAU coach Willie Taggart is bound to mention two names: Jordan Helm and Ahman Ross. Taggart has dubbed Helm, a redshirt senior safety, as "Mr. Reliable," and his teammates understand why. "He's always in the right place at the right time," redshirt senior cornerback Korel Smith said. "He knows exactly what we're supposed to do, where he's supposed to be and he also knows where everyone else is supposed to be. And he makes plays too." The Jacksonville native is embracing the opportunity to be relied on each defensive play. Helm played behind Da'Von Brown last season as a reserve safety, which he attributed to his growth as a player. He played in all 14 games in 2019, recording 23 tackles (17 solo) and a fumble recovery. "Just how to be a field general," Helm said about what he learned watching Brown, "and communicate with other positions to make sure everyone's on the same page."

Helm credits his ability to know the playbook so well to having five defensive coordinators and four positions coaches during his time with the Owls, saying he's taken something from each of them. He has a desire to eventually become a coach after his playing career is over. "He's as sharp and perceptive as anybody I've been around," defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said of Helm. "He's got length, range and gets himself in and out of situations well. He sees the game very well." - Sun-Sentinel


(DS#999 FS) Sr/2021 FS Jordan HelmFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  Keyshawn Greene, a former Nebraska linebacker, announced Tuesday night that he's transferring to FAU. Greene, a true freshman, was the second highest-rated recruit in the Huskers' 2020 recruiting class and joins the Owls after entering the transfer portal Friday. Joining FAU gives Greene two opportunities he didn't have at Nebraska - be closer to home and possibly play this season. The Crawfordville native went to Wakulla High School and is the third Floridian from Nebraska's 2020 recruiting class to transfer from the program, joining Jaiden Francois and Henry Gray. Francois transferred to Central Florida, while Gray went to FIU. Nebraska's season is being moved to the spring after the Big Ten announced in mid-August it postponed its fall 2020 football season due to the coronavirus pandemic. - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#999 OLB) Fr/2024 OLB Keyshawn GreeneFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  09/02/20 - BJ EmmonsSr/2021, Florida Atlantic, 5-11, 220 (DS#32 RB) + More +

  FAU football coach Willie Taggart may need more time before naming a starting quarterback for the 2020 season, but it appears one Owl stood out above the rest during their first scrimmage. Redshirt juniors Nick Tronti and Justin Agner, redshirt freshman Javion Posey and true freshman Willie Taggart Jr. are in the midst of a competition to see who'll replace Chris Robison as FAU's starting quarterback due to Robison no longer being on the team. "If I had to pick someone that probably stood out the most," Taggart said, "it would be Posey." Posey was highlighted multiple times in the information about the situational scrimmage released by Florida Atlantic, including a 65-yard touchdown pass graduate transfer wide receiver Aaron Young.

Taggart also commended the play of the running backs, especially senior tailback BJ Emmons, who recorded three scores. Emmons was recently named to the Reese's Senior Bowl Top 250. "Our running backs have been showing what they can do all training camp," Taggart said. "We're really loaded back there. BJ had a really good scrimmage. I've been really impressed with how he's been practicing." - Sun-Sentinel


(DS#32 RB) Sr/2021 RB BJ EmmonsFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  08/28/20 - BJ EmmonsSr/2021, Florida Atlantic, 5-11, 220 (DS#32 RB) + More +

  2021 SENIOR BOWL WATCH LIST: BJ Emmons, Florida Atlantic,...After joining the Owls in January of 2019, Emmons carried his first Owl football for a gain of one yard in the season opener at Ohio State. He then caught a pass for a setback of two yards, but more importantly Emmons' season was also set back by a broken ankle. Everyone thought the Morganton, North Carolina native, an Athlon Sports and Phil Steele's Magazine preseason C-USA Third Team honoree, would lose the year to the injury, but he had a different mindset. Ten games (and 84 days) later, he led the Owls with 10 carries for 53 yards and two scores in a victory over UTSA, a game that secured home field advantage for the 2019 Conference USA Championship. He tallied 51 carries on the year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and scored six times. Emmons tallied 71 yards on 11 carries versus Southern Miss, led nine Owl ballcarriers in carries in the C-USA title game win, and led the Owls with 17 carries and 72 yards in the 2019 Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl win over SMU. That marked the Owls' second Boca Raton Bowl win in three seasons. - Florida Atlantic Football

(DS#32 RB) Sr/2021 RB BJ EmmonsFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Florida Atlantic Football
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  2020 PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE USA TEAM (COACHES): OL Desmond Noel, R-Sr., Florida Atlantic,...Noel joined the Owls and the Owls' offensive line two weeks into the 2019 campaign. The Fort Scott Community College transfer and Cincinnati, Ohio native made an immediate impact, contributing to FAU's 45-27 win over Charlotte and then as a starter in the next nine games. The Owls would go on to capture the Conference USA and Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl Championships. Noel was part of a line that provided protection for 6,280 yards of offense, made up of 3,956 through the air and 2,324 yards on the ground. - Florida Atlantic Football

(DS#82 OG) rSr/2021 OG Desmond NoelFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Florida Atlantic Football
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  2020 PRESEASON RAY GUY AWARD WATCH LIST: Matthew Hayball, Florida Atlantic,...Hayball earned a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team in 2019...Closed out his first collegiate campaign with five punts totaling 240 yards, with a long of 60 yards, in the Owls' 52-28 Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl win over SMU...a game that he earned the Bowl Special Team MVP honors...Finished his first collegiate campaign No. 33 nationally averaging 43.5 yards per punt. - Florida Atlantic Football

(DS#999 P) rSo/2023 P Matt HayballFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Florida Atlantic Football
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  FAU safety Quran Hafiz is opting out the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hafiz made the announcement Saturday afternoon on Twitter, becoming the first Owl to opt-out of the season. The NCAA is allowing student-athletes to opt-out of the fall 2020 season without losing their scholarship "due to concerns about contracting COVID-19." Hafiz played in all 14 of FAU's games last season, recording 33 tackles (17 solo). He said that he's going to redshirt the 2020 season and plans to play for the Owls in 2021 as a redshirt senior. - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#999 SS) rSr/2022 SS Quran HafizFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  Now, new FAU coach Willie Taggart will head into fall camp looking for a new starting quarterback. Redshirt junior Nick Tronti is expected to be the front-runner for the starting role. Tronti, a former Indiana quarterback, was Robison's backup last season. He completed 17 passes on 22 attempts for 180 yards, two touchdowns and one interception last season with the Owls. Tronti excelled as a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 239 yards and two touchdowns on 51 attempts. Redshirt junior Justin Agner, redshirt freshman Javion Posey and true freshman Willie Taggart Jr. are the three other quarterbacks listed on FAU's 2020 fall camp roster. - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#37 QB) rJr/2022 QB Nick TrontiFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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  2020 PRESEASON BEDNARIK AWARD WATCH LIST: LB Akileis Leroy, Florida Atlantic,...Earned second team C-USA honors in 2019...Named First Team All-Conference by Phil Steele's Magazine...Nationally, finished among the nation's top-100 in forced fumbles (2 - 0.36), Interceptions per game (85 - 0.2), sacks (58 - 0.58), total interceptions (51 - 3) and total tackles (78 - 7.8). - Florida Atlantic Football

(DS#999 ILB) Sr/2021 ILB Akileis LeroyFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Florida Atlantic Football
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  Florida Atlantic linebacker Akileis Leroy has been named to the watch list for the 2020 Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given to the most outstanding defensive player in college football at the end of the season. Leroy was named second-team All-Conference USA after recording 101 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks to go along with three interceptions and five forced fumbles - the third-most in the FBS - during the 2019 season. He was added to the Owls' 2020 roster after not being listed for the past couple of months and FAU coach Willie Taggart declining to comment on the status of the senior linebacker in late-June. - Sun-Sentinel

(DS#999 ILB) Sr/2021 ILB Akileis LeroyFlorida Atlantic
News Source: Sun-Sentinel
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