With the University of Maine’s linebacking corps having already taking a massive hit with the loss of preseason All-American Deshawn Stevens for the year with a torn Achilles tendon, head coach Nick Charlton hopes to have junior Jaron Grayer back for Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association game against Towson.
Grayer suffered an upper body injury in the second half of UMaine’s 26-18 loss to Football Bowl Subdivision team Georgia Southern on Saturday and did not return.
“He is a little banged up. He’s day-to-day,” Charlton said. “He will do everything he can to play. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go.”
Grayer is UMaine’s No. 2 tackler with 12, behind strong safety Joshua Huffman, who tops the team with 13.
He was involved in five tackles against Georgia Southern.
The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Grayer was involved in 42 tackles for the Black Bears last season, including seven for loss (four sacks). He also forced a fumble and made two interceptions.
One of those interceptions came in UMaine’s 23-18 win over No. 3 Weber State in the FCS quarterfinals.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Grayer registered a team-leading 79 tackles (4.5 TFL, 2 sacks) and was a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award presented to the FCS Freshman of the Year.
Redshirt freshman Myles Taylor, a 6-foot, 200-pound native of New Rochelle, New York, replaced Grayer and logged three tackles.
Another redshirt freshman who saw a lot of action on defense on Saturday was Josh Lezin of Jackson, New Jersey. The 6-1, 283-pound tackle was involved in four tackles.
Charlton said he considers Taylor and Lezin to be productive players and expected them to see considerable playing time this season.
On offense, UMaine generated only 52 rushing yards against Georgia Southern.
“We’re still trying to develop our identity running the football,” Charlton said.
Even though the Black Bears defense surrendered 395 rushing yards, the coach was pleased that they limited Georgia Southern to one touchdown and four field goals in seven trips into the red zone (inside the 20-yard line).
He was concerned about giving up big plays as Georgia Southern rattled off nine plays of 21 or more yards, eight of which were runs.
The 1-1 Black Bears now focus on their first Colonial Athletic Association game against Towson University in a battle of teams ranked in the top 10.
UMaine is seventh in one FCS national poll and ninth in the other, while Towson (2-0) is eighth in both.
Towson owns victories over The Citadel (28-21) and North Carolina Central (42-3).
UMaine which posted a season-opening 42-14 victory over Sacred Heart, has won its past six games on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.