|Kodie McNamara sets the standard on and off the field for the 5-0 Bullets.
Photo by David Sinclair Photography
The adjectives nearly outpace the accolades.
“Positive.” Two-time team captain. “Dependable.” 35 career starts at linebacker. “Intelligent.” Campbell Trophy semifinalist. “Coachable.” 341 career tackles. “Smart.” Mathematics major with a 3.9 grade point average.
Kodie McNamara’s coaches at Gettysburg have nothing but good things to say about the four-year starter who currently ranks third in Division III in total career tackles. Behind the senior’s leadership, the Bullets have already equaled last year’s win total and are off to their best start since McNamara’s freshman year when the team also started 5-0.
“We’ve been leaning on him since he got here as a freshman,” said Gettysburg defensive coordinator Shaun Weaver. “There’s nothing you can throw at him that he hasn’t seen. He just doesn’t get rattled.”
Weaver recruited McNamara out of Manasquan High School in New Jersey. Not only did he land a foundation for his defense, but he opened up a pipeline to the Jersey Shore. Three other Manasquan players have followed McNamara to Gettysburg. Those are just three of the student-athletes who are trying to emulate him.
“He’s an excellent student and he’s so intelligent,” said head coach Barry Streeter. “All the kids respect him. The kids really rally around him and his leadership.”
While he is often the butt of jokes from his teammates and coaches regarding his major—an unusual one for a starting inside linebacker—McNamara has been able to maintain different focuses during the week and on Saturdays.
“If you put it in perspective, why I came to this school is one, for academics, and two, for football,” he said. “You almost lead two separate lives. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to find success between my academic life and my football life.”
The math major does not equate his geometry skills with his downhill tackling angles. Rather, he credits the linemen in front of him and his teammates on offense for preparing him to play at a high level each week. He notched a career-high 20 tackles in a Week 2 win over Ursinus. At the Centennial Conference’s midseason bye week, he ranks second in the league with 52 tackles.
“It’s not just me, it’s ten other guys. A lot of my tackles are credited to our D line,” he said. “They do a great job keeping us clean.”
The Bullets played a 4-2-5 hybrid defense his first two seasons and shifted to a 3-4 odd front last year. McNamara has improved his pass coverage skills each year and become more of a sideline-to-sideline playmaker. He has also become a more vocal leader on and off the field, setting fronts and making checks at the line of scrimmage and encouraging his teammates through offseason workouts.
“He’s the guy who leads in such a positive way,” said Weaver. “He knows how high the bar has been set. He does things the right way.”
His leadership skills have always stood out on par with his football skills. Weaver knew right away that he had a potential four-year starter in front of him.
“The first time I sat down with him, you could tell he is a special kid,” Weaver said. “His intelligence is what helped him step in and adapt. He’s worked his butt off since he’s been here.”
On the field, he has inspired his teammates by battling through nagging injuries over the years, never missing a start. He has improved his speed and quickness to complement his natural abilities.
“He’s got very good instincts and he moves well,” said Streeter. “That’s a good combination to have.”
The Bullets offense is averaging 512.4 yards and 80.2 plays per game, despite an average time of possession of just 27:43. That means McNamara and the Gettysburg defense have to be ready to go at all times. In five-minute practice sessions, the Bullets offense will run 15 to 20 plays against their defense. That helps slow the game down considerably on Saturdays.
“It’s an unbelievable pace and it’s amazing how tired you are after, but it’s such a great look for us. It builds our confidence,” said McNamara. “It excites us. We see them go out and be successful and we’re excited to get a three-and-out and get the ball back in their hands.”
McNamara is on pace to finish second on the Gettysburg career tackles list behind Ryan Moore’s 430. He could also pass Dickinson’s Eric Dube (389) for most career tackles in the Centennial Conference since 2001. Those statistics are meaningless to McNamara now. The only numbers he’s concerned with are in Gettysburg’s win column. He hopes to make a 41st straight career start by leading the Bullets to the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
“I really couldn’t ask for much more, but the job’s not done by far,” he said of his senior season. “I feel lucky and very grateful for how we’ve come together as a team. Those individual records come from team success.”
A backloaded schedule has the Bullets facing the other five best teams in the conference down the stretch, starting on Saturday against Muhlenberg. When the program started 5-0 in 2012, it finished 2-3 against the same schedule and ended the season in third place in the Centennial.
No matter how far he carries the team this season, McNamara has made a lasting impact on Gettysburg College.
“For everything football-wise, he’s that much better as a person. His professors rave about him,” said Weaver. “He’s one of my favorite people to be around.”
Campbell Trophy semifinalists
McNamara is one of 135 semifinalists for the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame’s William V. Campbell Trophy, which honors excellence on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. 27 semifinalist nominees play in Division III.
Other nominees from the Mid-Atlantic are Bridgewater’s Sean Douglass, Johns Hopkins’s Rowan Cade, and Moravian’s Anthony Orlando.
The field will be narrowed to 15 finalists on Oct. 29, with each receiving an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. All 15 will travel to New York City on Dec. 8 where the winner will be announced. The winner’s scholarship will increase to $25,000. The only Division III winner in the Trophy’s 25-year history is Washington U.’s Brandon Roberts, who won in 2002.
Hampden-Sydney twice rallied from 14-point deficits, but fell one yard short as Washington and Lee held on for a 35-28 win. The Generals earned their first win in Farmville since 2005 when they stopped Kyree Koonce on 4th and goal from the one with 5.8 seconds to play. That came one snap after Thomas Freeland made a huge stop when Koonce appeared to have a path to the left corner of the end zone.
The Generals were outgained 506 to 396, but capitalized on two early turnovers. Charlie Nelson completed just two passes, but the second was a crucial 40 yard completion to Josh Malm on third-and-ten on the Generals' game-winning drive. Connor Chess capped that with a 20-yard touchdown run, his second of the day.
Edgar Moore passed for 357 yards and three scores and Koonce rushed 35 times for 160 yards to rally the Tigers. Cam Johnson caught 11 passes for 141 yards and two scores. Liam Hedge missed a 30-yard field goal attempt which would have given the home team the lead with 5:26 to play. That put the ball back in Nelson's hands and he led the visitors down the field for the go-ahead score.
Washington and Lee is 5-0 for the first time since 1961. The Tigers can get right back in the ODAC race with a win at Emory and Henry on Saturday.
After being knocked out in the second quarter of last week's loss to W&L, Guilford quarterback Matt Pawlowski returned to the starting lineup and righted the ship for the Quakers. Guilford put up at least 55 points for the fourth time this season, holding off Shenandoah, 55-38. Adam Smith caught 10 passes for a school-record 253 yards and three touchdowns. De'Eric Bell set another school record with 326 all-purpose yards, rushing for 153 yards and adding 172 return yards including a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Kevin Saxton passed for four touchdowns, three to Tyree Ward, as Emory and Henry started slow but finished strong to defeat Bridgewater, 31-7.
T.J. Tutone posted another 300-yard passing day to lead Catholic past Randolph-Macon, 28-20.
Shake up in the USA South
North Carolina Wesleyan held Maryville to 335 total yards and 3-for-12 on third down to shock the previously undefeated Scots, 24-7. Gerrell Patton carried 34 times for 143 yards and a score and Malik Adams caught 8 passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Bobby Tucker intercepted three passes and blocked a field goal for the Battling Bishops. N.C. Wesleyan forced six turnovers to hand Maryville head coach Shaun Hayes his first loss.
Huntingdon is now the only 2-0 USA South team, 4-1 overall, after defeating Ferrum, 56-21. The Hawks host Maryville on Nov. 7, but there are plenty of games to be played between now and then. Huntingdon travels to LaGrange on Saturday, looking to defeat the Panthers for the first time as members of the USA South.
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