Incoming sophomore quarterback R.J. Toman knows he has some big cleats to fill. Under the leadership of former UNH quarterback Ricky Santos '08, the UNH football team made it to the playoffs four years in a row, and as a result, comparisons are inevitable.
"Everybody is wondering if R.J. can pick up where Ricky left off last year," says head coach Sean McDonnell '78. "R.J. can run a little faster than Ricky, and he is pretty good with the option. The question now is, how will he be as we get deep into the season?"
By the end of September, the answer seemed to be "Just fine." The Wildcats won their first four games, beating Army 28-10, Rhode Island 51-43, Albany 32-24 and Dartmouth 42-6. "'Cats Solid as Granite" read one newspaper headline after the victory against Dartmouth.
Toman came to UNH from Mission Viejo, Calif., and last year stepped in as a freshman to replace an injured Santos against undefeated Delaware; he led UNH to a 35-30 victory. Toman started against Iona the following week, making 15 out of 19 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown.
Team co-captain Mike Boyle '09 says the rushing offense "just needs to stay calm and help R.J. settle in." The team's first game of the season against Army was dominated by rushing; at Rhode Island and at home against Albany, Toman threw for a total of nine touchdowns. At Dartmouth, Toman threw for one touchdown and ran for another; the rest were scored by sophomore running back Sean Jellison (two), wide receiver Travis Negron '11and running back Bob Simpson '09. Prior to the game, running back Chad Kackert '10, who was leading the conference in all-purpose yardage, was sidelined with arthroscopic knee surgery.
In mid-September, Toman was named the recipient of the Boston Globe Gold Helmet Award, presented on a weekly basis to the top college football player in New England. By late September, UNH had moved up to No. 5 in the Sports Network's FCS college football poll.
A history major, Toman is probably aware that UNH football has opened the season with four consecutive wins twice in three years, and now has won four straight home openers.
"[The comparisons] will be there regardless of what happens, whether I do worse than Ricky or whether I do better," Toman told The Boston Globe. "What's important to me is that I'm there to perform for my teammates."Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents