NCAAF - C - USA
Stadium: McColl–Richardson Field at Jerry Richardson Stadium
Coach: Will Healy
SU Record: 11-2
ATS Record: 6-7-0
|Sep-24||vs Middle Tennessee|
|Oct-21||vs Florida Atlantic|
Charlotte 49ers Returning Stats Leaders
|Tre Harbison III||80||337||4,2||29||4|
OVERALL RETURNING PRODUCTION FOR 2021/22
Charlotte 49ers Football Team
Charlotte Team News and Picks
Charlotte struggled through the 2020 season, playing just six games and finishing 2-4. It was a step back from a bowl appearance the previous season, but considering it is a pandemic season, it’s not quite the step back for the program that it might appear to be.
Coach Will Healy begins his third season with some holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but a number of transfers into the program should help the 49ers back into bowl contention. If that’s going to happen, the biggest improvement needs to be on defense after allowing 32.5 points per game in 2020.
Assuming some of the new faces can make the impact they’re expected to, Charlotte should be able to fight for another winning season and a bowl berth. The 49ers will get better as the season goes on and could be very dangerous in the campaign’s closing weeks.
Six games on the 49ers schedule were postponed and/or canceled, leaving the team without an opponent to play between Halloween and Dec. 6. The uncertainty hurt the 49ers’ consistency, making it difficult for the team to get any rhythm.
After an opening loss to Appalachian State, the 49ers had to wait almost a month before facing Florida Atlantic, which ended up being a four-point loss. The only wins of the season came in succession in October, as Charlotte topped North Texas and UTEP.
A blowout loss to Duke started the spiral, though, with multiple cancellations following. The season ended with a loss to Western Kentucky before one final cancellation of a game at Marshall.
Chris Reynolds is expected to be the starting quarterback this season, though he’ll get a challenge from James Foster, a transfer from Texas A&M. Whichever player gets the starting nod will need to be a leader for the 49ers.
Victor Tucker leads a solid group of receivers with his big-play ability, with Cameron Dollar also a top contributor. Iowa transfer Shadrick Byrd could also make an impact at the running back spot.
Defensively, linebackers Tyler Murray and Luke Martin lead the charge. Cornerback Lance McMillan and safety Antone Williams are also keys to the Charlotte defense improving this season.
There are plenty of new faces that will be counted on to make an impact, including Foster in the quarterback room and Byrd as a potential feature back. Tight end Ricky Kofoed (Appalachian State) and wide receiver Keith Pearson Jr. (Presbyterian) add some depth to the receiving corps.
Linebacker Justin Whisenhunt is expected to make an impact after a solid four-year career at Troy. Defensive end Kofi Wardlow joined the 49ers from Notre Dame and could provide some solid play on the end of the line, while Iowa State transfer Joshua Bailey will bring size to the interior.
Charlotte’s top two running backs, Tre Harbison III and Aaron McAllister, have both moved on and will need to be replaced. The offensive line also took a couple of hits, with offensive tackle Ty’Kiest Crawford transferring to Arkansas and center Jaelin Fisher departing as well.
The defense has the most departures to deal with, as Timmy Horne went to Kansas State and defensive end Tyriq Harris has left as well. This season, cornerback Ben DeLuca is playing for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and will need to be replaced in the Charlotte defensive backfield.
The 49ers are expected to battle for a spot in the top half of Conference USA’s East Division, though it won’t be easy. Marshall and Florida Atlantic are the favorites atop the division, with Western Kentucky also expected to be in the mix.
Charlotte gets home games against the first two of those teams, with a trip to face the Hilltoppers also on the slate. All three of those games come in the second half of the season, giving the 49ers time to integrate the newcomers into the mix.
Charlotte Team Offense
The quarterback position will be interesting, with Reynolds coming off a season in which he passed for 1,305 yards and eight touchdowns. Still, Foster with a great deal of potential after playing at Texas A&M. Whoever is throwing the ball will be looking for Tucker (30 catches, 400 yards, two touchdowns) quite a bit.
Having four starters back on the offensive line will be a big plus, especially early on. Giving Reynolds or Foster time to throw the ball will be key with such a great group of receivers.
The hope is Byrd can come in and play well right from the start to help balance the offense. Tucker will also get some shots on running plays after he ran eight times for 86 yards in 2020, another way to get the ball in the hands of the team’s best playmakers.
Charlotte Team Defense
In their six games, the 49ers had just five sacks, with defensive end Markees Watts leading the way with two despite dealing with injuries. The defensive front gets the boost of Wardlow and Bailey and also has Mikel Horton returning.
Murray led Charlotte with 49 tackles a season ago, making two tackles for loss and two interceptions. He’ll need to have the same kind of impact this season, while Luke Martin (27 tackles) will also be counted on for big numbers.
The secondary is led by Williams and McMillan, with Devondre Robinson, Jon Alexander, and Geovante Howard all new to the program and hoping to provide some depth in the defensive backfield.
Frequently Asked Questions
There was football played at Charlotte in the 1940s, but the current version of the team started play in 2013.
Charlotte joined Conference USA prior to the 2015 season.
One, the 2019 Bahamas Bowl against Buffalo.
Brad Lambert won 22 games when he coached the 49ers from 2013 to 2018.