After waiting a month to start the season, Georgetown football is ready to open its season Saturday against the Campbell University Fighting Camels. The Hoyas are returning a wealth of experience and talent, bringing back eight starters on defense and nine on offense, plus introducing a large and talented freshman class made up of 27 new Hoyas.
Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said the preseason has helped develop the team’s level and depth of talent so far.
“It’s been the most competitive camp we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Sgarlata said. “We just went through the travel squad and there was some pretty good discussion of who’s going and who’s staying, and anytime you have that it means that you have good things happening with your depth.”
Georgetown is looking forward to having another dominating defense this year as it returns most of a group that led the Patriot League in scoring defense last year, at 23.3 points per game, and was ranked No. 2 nationally in red-zone defense. This year’s squad is led by senior safety David Akere, one of this year’s No. 35 Joe Eacobacci Memorial Jersey recipients and Georgetown’s top returning tackler.
Akere is a highlight in a defensive backfield that returns all 10 players from last season’s group and adds five talented freshmen. The defense remains strong at the next level with four returning linebackers who recorded at least 25 tackles in 2016. The defensive line also returns five players who recorded significant playing time last season.
This highly anticipated Blue and Gray defense faces a challenge out of the gate; the Hoyas are tasked with stopping a Camels offense that scored 70 points — 35 points in the first quarter alone — in their first contest. Akere nonetheless remains confident in his squad’s ability to take on the high-powered Campbell attack, noting that he and his teammates are committed to an opening day win.
“We believe every Saturday we can come out there and beat anyone. Our defense is a dominating defense that swarms to the ball and plays violently, aggressively,” Akere said. “Seventy points is a lot of points, but we feel like we have the best defenses in the league and hopefully one of the best in the nation, so we’re quick and ready to stop anything.”
Offensively, the Hoyas are ready to take advantage of their depth, starting with fifth-year senior Tim Barnes at quarterback, who is looking for a comeback after sufan injury last season. His leadership is bolstered by an offensive line that boasts four senior linemen, two of whom started all 11 games in the 2016 season.
In the skill positions, Georgetown returns their top two rushers from last season, seniors Alex Valles and Isaac Ellsworth. The team is excited for a deep receiving corps, returning 12 players who have caught a pass. The Hoyas are replacing wide receiver Justin Hill (COL ’17) — who graduated last May in the top 10 for career receptions (144), receiving yards (1,637) and receiving touchdowns (11) — with sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus and senior wide receiver Tom Jesson who look to build on a solid training camp.
Georgetown will turn to Barnes and this experienced offense to find the end zone against a Campbell defense that shut out their opponent in the first week. The Camels also had a field day on special teams, forcing a fumble for a score on kickoff and gaining a whopping 141 yards on punt returns, all returned by redshirt sophomore Jaquan Brooks.
Sgarlata emphasized the importance of special teams in this coming game, but is confident that the Hoyas’ tradition of success in the third phase will prevail.
“If you watch any of the games this past weekend, special teams played a part. If you watched Texas and Maryland, or that game Campbell had you see that. So, we put a lot of pride in our special teams and put a lot of time into it, this past season we were ranked in the top five nationally in a lot of categories and we emphasize it a lot,” Sgarlata said.
Georgetown’s season kicks off this Saturday night as the Hoyas travel to North Carolina, and for Sgarlata and most of the team, the opportunity to get back on the field and back up to their winning expectations cannot come any sooner.
“For us, we expect to win every time we step foot out on that field. Our expectation is to go out there and win every Saturday. So, I’m honestly excited to get out there and see us play somebody else after having three weeks of camp and a bye week on week one. I’m sure there will be other things we’ll need to improve on after the first game, but I’m really excited to see this team out on the field Saturday night,” Sgarlata said.
Opening kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Campbell University’s Barker-Lane Stadium this Saturday.

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