PHILADELPHIA-- Six student-athletes on the University of New Hampshire football team were selected as members of the Atlantic 10 Football Conference's All-Conference team. The announcement was made today by the conference office.
Four players, two on offense and two on defense, received second-team honors.
Granite Stater Brian Barbato (Exeter, N.H.) was named to the second-team offensive line as one of the most experienced linemen in the Atlantic 10. Barbato was one of the key reasons that the UNH offense was able to move the football an amazing 414.0 yards per contest in 2003.
One of the more exciting and quick players to watch in the Atlantic 10 this season was junior kickoff returner David Bailey (Bronx, N.Y.). Bailey was ranked among the top 10 in the I-AA ranks this season in kickoff returns and completed the season with an average return of 28.5 yards per contest. He returned a total of 30 kicks for 570 yards, including a long return of 98 yards for a touchdown. Bailey was honored for his prowess as a return specialist, but he also led UNH as a receiver with 48 catches for a team-best 612 yards and five touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the football, no player was more of a success story than senior linebacker Chris Robinson (Medford, N.Y.), who was named second-team all-conference after leading the Wildcats in tackles with (68-68-136). His 136 tackles was good for second all-time at UNH when it comes to tackles made in a season. Robinson also had seven tackles for a loss in 2003, an interception, seven pass breakups and three fumble recoveries. Robinson returned from a shoulder injury after missing all of last season.
George Peterson (West Rutland, Vt.) may be considered one of the most improved players on the UNH squad. Peterson, had a monster game in UNH's victory over James Madison and was named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Peterson completed his junior campaign as the Wildcats' ninth-leading tackler with 28-21-49. Peterson put tremendous pressure on opponent offensive backs as evidenced by his team-leading 13 tackles for a loss and his 3.0 sacks, good for second for UNH. He also had two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
UNH boasted two offensive players named third-team all-conference. Junior quarterback Mike Granieri (Linwood, N.J.) had a record-breaking season for UNH and now stands among the UNH season leaders in all passing categories. Perhaps his most impressive numbers include his 2,595 passing yards and 602 rushing yards, making him the only quarterback in Atlantic 10 conference history to surpass the 2,500 passing yardage mark and the 602 rushing yard mark. In addition his 22 passing touchdowns in 2003 was just one shy of tying the all-time UNH record for passing TDs in a season. The record of 23 was recorded by Matt Griffin in 1991.
The other third-team all-conference Wildcat was senior offensive lineman and tri-captain Jon Hart (Sayville, N.Y.). Hart may be the only player in I-AA football to have come in as a quarterback, then moved to tight end and then finally landed as an offensive tackle. He, like Barbato, is a main reason the UNH offensive line provided some of the best pass protection in the conference and helped the team to compile an average of 414 0. yards per game.