Led by one of the most experienced quarterbacks nationally in NCAA Division III, the Nebraska Wesleyan football team begins preseason practices Thursday as the Prairie Wolves look to improve on last year’s 3-7 record.
Senior Jonathan Curti enters his third year as the NWU starting quarterback with 5,751 career passing yards and 53 touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Curti, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, was a second-team American Rivers all-conference selection last year while completing 54 percent of his throws for 2,477 yards and 23 TDs.
Curti is one of three offensive starters returning for coach Brian Keller’s squad, joining senior wide receiver Derrick Curtis (Lincoln Northeast) and junior offensive lineman Colton Davis (Nebraska City). Curtis caught 32 passes for 434 yards and six scores in 2018.
NWU returns at least one starter at each level of the defense. Arlington defensive lineman Hayden Penny (6-0, 250, junior; 52 tackles, 4.5 quarterback sacks) is back in the trenches, while Stuart’s Micah Dexter (5-10, 185, senior; 70 tackles, four for losses) and Jacob Garnas of Julesburg, Colorado (6-0, 215, junior; 100 tackles, three QB sacks and one interception), return at two of the linebacker spots.
Highlands Ranch, Colorado, senior Nicholas Cortes (6-0, 175; 47 tackles, eight pass break-ups) headlines the secondary.
Six of NWU’s 10 games this season are at Abel Stadium, including the season-opener on Sept. 7 against Westminster College (1 p.m. kickoff).