Bedford's Toscano: From walk-on to UNH football captain

Apr. 28—DURHAM — It's probably accurate to say Ryan Toscano has accomplished more during his college football career than many expected. He was a walk-on at the University of New Hampshire who started at inside linebacker early in his career and played his way into a full scholarship.

Toscano, a Bedford resident, added to his resume last week when he was selected as one of five UNH captains for the 2024 season.

"I'm extremely thankful for not only being named captain and not only being given the opportunity to come here, but it's the entire journey," Toscano said following UNH's spring game on Friday night. "The ups, the downs, the fun moments, the COVID year, school, sports — everything.

"I would say six years ago when I walked on here if you told me I was going to be named captain it was probably a good thought, but I wouldn't have believed you to be honest. Just very thankful for my coaches, my teammates and everyone who has helped me get to this point. Really, really excited for this whole year to come."

Wide receiver Logan Tomlinson, defensive end Josiah Silver, safety Zedane Williams and offensive lineman Dylan Poirier are the other players selected as captains.

Toscano, a senior, was New Hampshire's Gatorade Player of the Year during his senior season at Bedford High School, when he led the Bulldogs to the NHIAA Division I championship.

Toscano appeared in all 13 UNH games during the 2022 season, and led the team with 76 tackles (31 solo) in 11 games last season.

"I think the years that I wasn't on money and I was kind of the low guy on the totem pole taught me a lot about work ethic and consistency," Toscano said. "Just go to work every day. I've had that chip on my shoulder since Day 1.

"I was hopeful (about being a captain), but again, the big thing is the opportunity to be a part of this great team, have the opportunity to represent my home state, play for UNH. Extremely honored to have the support of my teammates and my coaches."

IT APPEARS experience has made senior Seth Morgan the favorite to begin the season as UNH's starting quarterback. Morgan began his career at VMI, transferred to Division II Shepherd University and then moved to UNH following the 2023 season after former UNH quarterback Max Brosmer transferred to Minnesota.

"We're not going to announce (Morgan) as QB1 just yet, but I think it's trending that way," UNH coach Rick Santos said. "Really happy with him."

Morgan completed 14 of 21 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

"This is my second time transferring now, so I've been through the whole process of learning a new offense. I think (Drew) Belcher is my fifth offensive coordinator, so I've seen every scheme in the book. The biggest thing for me is just learning the new terminology. What they call a certain play here versus what I used to call it at a different school. I feel like I'm in a great spot, but still work to do for sure.

"I think I bring a lot of experience, both at the Division I and Division II levels. Played at a high-level Division II in the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference). I'd like to think that I'm a very accurate passer. That's something I pride myself on. I'm a good decision-maker. I know how to take care of the ball. I think all that's come from the experience I've had. I'd say those are definitely my biggest strengths."

Santos said redshirt-freshman quarterback Matt Vezza has been dealing with a quad injury. Sophomore QB Barry Kleinpeter was also used at running back Friday night.

"Really excited about Barry Kleinpeter as an overall football player," Santos said. "I don't know right now if he's (ready) to start at quarterback, but we have to find a way to put him on the football field. He's a physical runner. We're going to have to create a package for him, whether that's QB, running back, H-Back ... something to get him in the game. He's one of the hardest runners we have. He can help us move the chains."

TOMLINSON AND defensive back Wande Owens were among those who didn't play Friday. Tomlinson was in a walking boot with an ankle sprain. Owens, a transfer from Yale, missed the game to attend his brother's wedding.

"He's solidified himself as the starting free safety," Santos said. "Smart, tough, can cover. Really athletic."