LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Early preparations for the 2017 football season get underway on Friday evening, when the Bucknell team takes the field for the first of 15 spring practices. The first workout is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

"The student-athletes in our program have been working hard since the end of our 2016 season," said head coach Joe Susan. "We are fortunate to be returning some experienced players, and the leadership they have shown has been outstanding."

The Bison return five 2016 All-Patriot Leaguers, including three First Team defensive players in tackle Abdullah Anderson, linebacker Ben Richard, and cornerback Bryan Marine. Second Team All-Patriot League running back Joey DeFloria and linebacker Mark Pyles also return. Pyles was a team captain as a junior last season. 

Richard was the team's leading tackler last season with 95, Abdullah led the squad with 8.5 sacks, while DeFloria turned in the team's first 1,000-yard rushing season in 12 years. The Bison also return two quarterbacks who started games last season, junior Matt Muh and freshman John Chiarolanzio.  

The spring practice period provides Susan and his staff a chance to review and install offensive and defensive schemes, as well as get an early look at position battles. The Bison closed last season with seven seniors starting on offense, including all five offensive linemen, and four senior starters on defense, two in the secondary and two on the line. 

"Competition for positions will be a critical component of what we will work on during the spring," added Susan. "Our offensive line will need to replace five senior starters, and the development of that group is essential to our improvement as a team. Many other positions will see some very talented young men competing for playing time."

Spring practice runs from Friday through Apr. 21, with the final session reserved for the annual Spring Game at 7 p.m. at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

"We are excited about getting this team back on to the field," said Susan. "They work so hard to excel both on and off the field. Our coaches will continue to teach and demand, and our players will continue to work to prepare and perform."

2017 Bucknell Spring Practice Schedule

  • Friday, March 24 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Saturday, March 25 (5-7 p.m.)
  • Sunday, March 26 (5-7 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, March 28 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Thursday, March 30 (6-8 a.m.)
  • Friday, March 31 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Sunday, April 2 (5-7 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, April 4 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Thursday, April 6 (6-8 a.m.)
  • Friday, April 7 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Sunday, April 9 (5-7 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, April 11 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Thursday, April 13 (6-8 a.m.)
  • Tuesday, April 18 (7-9 p.m.)
  • Friday, April 21 (Spring Game: Warmups 6 p.m., Game 7 p.m.)