Over the offseason, the Villanova University football team needed to replace their offensive and defensive coordinators. Sam Venuto, who was offensive coordinator for 20 seasons and on the staff for 24, retired while his defensive counterpart Joe Trainer left the program to pursue other interests.
Wildcats head coach Mark Ferrante elected to elevate Ola Adams from special teams coordinator/cornerbacks coach to head the defense while he went outside the program but hired a very familiar name to Villanova fans to be offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
Chris Boden, who was a record-setting quarterback from 1997 to 1999, returns to the Main Line to lead the offense. In his time at Villanova, Venuto mentored three Walter Peyton Award (top offensive player at the FCS level) winners at three different positions.
They were wide receiver Brian Finneran (1997), running back Brian Westbrook (2001) and quarterback John Robertson (2014). In addition, he was offensive coordinator when the ‘Cats won the 2009 FCS National Championship.
Trainer helmed the defense for five seasons from 2000 to 2004, he left then-head coach Andy Talley’s staff for a head coaching opportunity. In 2014, he rejoined the staff and in 2017 had his old job back. In 2018, the Wildcats defense was 16th in the country in total defense, allowing 312.6 yards per game.
Adams, after being a four-year starter at free safety for Division II Concord University, started his coaching career there in 2008 as the assistant defensive backs coach. He followed that with a season at Cortland State and then a year at Glenville State College. He returned to Cortland for three seasons as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Then he spent a year at Columbia, working on the offensive side of the ball with the wide receivers before joining the “Cats staff as running backs coach for the 2015 season. He that for a couple seasons before running special teams and coaching the cornerbacks.
Two cornerbacks he coached signed NFL contacts (Malik Reeves and Trey Johnson, who is currently on the Denver Broncos roster). On the field, Boden led the Wildcats to an 11-0 regular season in 1997 and their first-ever No. 1 national ranking.
He was named a Walter Camp All-American that season and set a school-record (that still stands) with 42 touchdown passes. He finished his career with 99 touchdowns and 10,146 yards which are also school records.
In 2015, he was inducted into Villanova’s Varsity Club Hall of Fame. He coached the quarterbacks at Fordham University after he graduated. He played and them coached in the Arena Football League before joining ASA New York (a two-year institution) in 2009, as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
In 2015, he was named head coach and led the Avengers to a 6-5 mark. He moved to ASA Miami as head coach, going 15-10 in three seasons and joined the Wildcats staff in the spring.
“Words cannot express how excited and thankful I am to return home to my alma mater, Villanova University, as the Offensive Coordinator / QBs Coach,” he Tweeted. He’ll have some work to do, the Wildcats return four starters on offense.
They will need to replace three men on the line and settle on a quarterback among, Jack Schetelich, Qadir Ismail and incoming freshman Connor Watkins. Adams will head a defense with little more starting experience with six returning starters including three of the front six (the Wildcats will continue to run the 3-3-5 scheme).
Three starters in the defensive backfield return as well including 2018’s CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year Christian Benford, a cornerback, who had five interceptions and six pass breakups in nine games last season.
Speaking about the coordinator changes, Ferrante told Dukesofjmu.com, ““It’s not like we’re going from what we did offensively to something drastically different or what we did on defense to something drastically different, so we still have the core of what we’ve been doing in place philosophically, and it’s getting introduced and taught in different angles. So, I guess refreshing is the best word I’d use for just a little new enthusiasm and new ways of introducing things.”
The Wildcats have the honor of playing in the first game of the 2019 season (the 150th year of college football) when they kickoff at Noon on August 24 at Colgate. *
Email Rock Hoffman at Rock@footballstories.com