Key injuries are rampant across the FCS

(STATS) – The sight of Villanova safety Rob Rolle on the sideline wearing a knee brace and using crutches was startling to the Wildcats last Saturday night, but it falls in line with the unfortunate storyline of the first month of the FCS season.

Injuries have mounted in alarming frequency with a number of All-Americans, NFL prospects and standout players, such as Rolle.

Rolle is likely going to miss significant playing time after suffering the knee injury while returning a kickoff during the CAA Football power’s overtime loss at Albany.

“We’re not real excited about his injury; his knee did swell up some,” Villanova coach Mark Ferrante said Monday, adding that his team will await MRI results this week. “We’ve got to get the final verification on that, but that one’s not looking very promising.”

Villanova’s leading rusher Matt Gudzak and leading receiver Ryan Bell, a tight end, also were banged up, but not on the same level as Rolle, a senior who tied for the FCS high with seven interceptions last season. He was named to the STATS Preseason FCS All-America first team in early August.

The injuries have been so rampant that both first-team All-America running backs, Fordham’s Chase Edmonds (right ankle and hamstring) and Albany’s Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks (knee), have missed significant playing time, and fullback Joe Protheroe of Cal Poly is lost to a knee injury. He’s expected to apply for an NCAA medical redshirt to gain another season of eligibility.

Edmonds has missed the last 2 1/2 games, but is nearing a return. If he plays against Yale on Saturday, he would have seven regular-season games remaining for his pursuit of the FCS all-time rushing record. With 5,400 career yards, he’s 1,159 shy of former Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson’s record.

Other injured players who were named to the preseason All-America first team are Colgate defensive end Pat Afriyie (right ankle), North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca (partial meniscus tear) and Princeton all-purpose threat John Lovett (left arm surgery), who has yet to play this season.

North Dakota State defensive end Greg Menard (right knee ACL tear), North Dakota junior cornerback Deion Harris (Achilles tear) and Central Arkansas left tackle Stockton Mallett (shoulder surgery) were injured in the preseason and won’t play this year.

Since the start of the season, Northern Arizona wide receiver Emmanuel Butler (shoulder), James Madison running back Cardon Johnson (right Achilles tear) and Montana quarterback Reese Phillips (broken left fibula, left ankle dislocation) have been lost to season-ending injuries.

Quarterbacks Hunter Wells (shoulder separation) of Youngstown State and Devante Kincade (lower leg) of Grambling State, William & Mary wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon (broken wrist) and Tennessee State defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko (lower leg) also are out.