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Former Franklin Regional tight end Summers makes impact at Villanova

| Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, 4:12 p.m.
Todd Summers, a 2016 Franklin Regional graduate, has climbed the depth chart to a starting role with the Villanova football team in 2017.
Villanova athletics
Todd Summers, a 2016 Franklin Regional graduate, has climbed the depth chart to a starting role with the Villanova football team in 2017.
Todd Summers, a 2016 Franklin Regional graduate, has climbed the depth chart to a starting role with the Villanova football team in 2017.
Villanova athletics
Todd Summers, a 2016 Franklin Regional graduate, has climbed the depth chart to a starting role with the Villanova football team in 2017.
Todd Summers, a 2016 Franklin Regional graduate, has climbed the depth chart to a starting role with the Villanova football team in 2017.
Villanova athletics
Todd Summers, a 2016 Franklin Regional graduate, has climbed the depth chart to a starting role with the Villanova football team in 2017.

When Todd Summers began his redshirt freshman season on the Villanova football team in September, he didn't appear on the team's depth chart. As the season concluded, though, Summers was not only playing, but starting at tight end.

The Franklin Regional graduate's opportunity came when both tight ends in front of him suffered injuries, including Ryan Bell, who was among the top targets on the team.

In large part because of a labrum injury that limited his practice time during his redshirt season, Summers was not expected to play a key role this year. His coaches had prepared him well given the circumstances, but Summers still faced an adjustment to the level of play in college.

“I wasn't used to the speed and just how strong people were,” Summers said. “I'd say that was the biggest change, just dealing with how fast the game is played and just how much bigger and stronger people are.”

Prior to Villanova's regular-season finale against rival Delaware, Summers had three catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns this season. His first career catch was a 20-yard touchdown in Villanova's win over Maine in October.

“I was not expecting to be that open, and it was an awesome feeling to help the team,” he noted.

Summers also he scored on his first high school reception, too. Meanwhile, his second catch at Villanova was a 4-yard score in a loss to James Madison the following week.

The season was disappointing for the Wildcats, who finished with a losing record after being nationally ranked earlier in the campaign.

While Summers pointed to his strength and blocking as the biggest areas he will need to improve moving forward, he's made great strides since he's stepped on campus. Since that time, he's added 30 points to his 6-foot-5 frame, and has honed many skills. He pointed to his ability as a receiver as perhaps his best attribute at this juncture.

“I've progressed so much more this year, just working on my technique and being able to execute and help the team as much as I can,” he said.

Summers took an unusual path to his collegiate success. The youngest of five children, he followed in his brothers' footsteps as a basketball standout during his childhood. Although he also played football in ninth grade, Summers gave up the sport and turned his full focus to the hardwood during his sophomore year.

During the Panthers basketball games, Franklin Regional football coach Greg Botta was often in attendance. Botta saw a football future in Summers that the sophomore had barely considered to that point.

“He would come to a lot of the basketball games and make his way over to talk to me, just saying I'd be able to play at the next level,” Summers said. “He really guided me into playing and helped me a lot.”

As a result, Summers returned to football for his junior and senior seasons, adding to the abundance of talent at the position. Summers joined Jake Lauer, Simon Behr and Bennett Verona as tight ends on the roster, and Botta ultimately utilized rarely-seen formations that allowed all of them to contribute simultaneously.

“He knew we had four guys capable of playing, and he just found ways to get us all on the field to be able to make plays,” Summers said.

While Summers still strongly considered playing basketball at the next level during his senior year, once he received the offer to play football at Villanova, his decision was an easy one.

“I love it here,” he said. “I made the right choice.”

Sean Meyers is a freelance writer.

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