College football season finally gets underway for most of the country this week and this year the Herald will help you keep tabs on former Manatee County stars making waves at the next level. Here’s where you can watch some of your favorites this weekend:
Thursday, Sept. 1
Humboldt State University at Carson-Newman University, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
Who’s playing: Brian Bembry, DL, Palmetto; Antonio Henderson, DB, Manatee
Technically, the college season began last weekend with a game in Australia and a token Football Championship Subdivision opener. For most of the nation, play begins this weekend with a slew of games Thursday. The first one of this slate is a Division II clash in Jefferson City, Tenn., where Carson-Newman hosts No. 13 Humboldt State from Arcata, Calif. Bembry should be prominently featured for the Eagles after starting all 12 games at defensive tackle as a true freshman for CNU last year and Henderson will make his Carson-Newman debut as the Eagles’ nickel safety after redshirting last year.
Mars Hill University at Samford, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Who’s playing: Kelvin McKnight, WR, Manatee
McKnight will try to build on his Southern Conference Freshman of the Year season when the Bulldogs open the year against Mars Hill, a Division II program from North Carolina. The sophomore started all 11 games at wide receiver last year and is once again atop the depth chart as Samford’s slot receiver. He finished his rookie campaign with 57 catches for 616 yards.
Montana State at Idaho, 9 p.m., ESPN3
Who’s playing: Jacob Sannon, WR, Southeast
The Vandals wide receiver corps includes multiple Manatee County graduates with Palmetto’s Brandon Luckett starting his freshman year. Sannon is the noteworthy one for now, though, as a back-up wideout for Idaho. He should be in the rotation on the opening day of the season against the Bobcats.
Saturday, Sept. 3
Boston College vs. Georgia Tech, 7:30 a.m., ESPN2
Who’s playing: Jake Stickler, OL, Manatee; Wyatt Knopfke, OL, Saint Stephen’s
Stickler is entering his third year with the Yellow Jackets and Knopfke his second with the Eagles, and together they’ll help usher in the first college football Saturday of the year. Georgia Tech and Boston College play the first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the year in Dublin. Stickler and Knopfke will not be starting in Ireland — Stickler is listed as Georgia Tech’s back-up right tackle and Knopfke is Boston College’s back-up left guard — but both should see some playing time.
Rutgers at No. 14 Washington, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Who’s playing: Josh Hicks, RB, Palmetto
After starting a handful of games for the Scarlet Knights last year, Hicks moves into a full-time starting role this year and will make his debut as the anchor of the Rutgers offense against the Huskies, a Top 25 foe. The Pac-12 Network isn’t widely available on the East Coast, but it is available to those with certain cable packages.
North Carolina Central at Duke, 6 p.m., ESPN3
Who’s playing: Danny Doyle, DE, Manatee
Doyle has risen from walk-on to rotational defensive end for the Blue Devils and in May was given a scholarship. Now the redshirt junior is listed as a back-up defensive end for Duke and should get a chance to start this season. He’ll certainly see plenty of playing time against NC Central.
Towson at South Florida, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Who’s playing: Michael Galati, OL, Manatee; Brooks Larkin, OL, Manatee
Every center to line up over the ball for South Florida this season will in all likelihood be a former Hurricane. Galati, a redshirt sophomore, tops the Bulls’ depth chart with Larkin, a redshirt freshman, slotted behind him. The first chance to see them comes Saturday in Tampa when USF welcomes the Tigers to Raymond James Stadium.
Monday, Sept. 5
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 11 Mississippi, 8 p.m., ESPN
Who’s playing: Demarcus Christmas, DT, Manatee
The opening weekend of the college football season concludes with a prime time showdown: the Seminoles against Mississippi at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Christmas, who emerged as a force on the FSU defensive line last season, will start at defensive tackle.