Franklin Regional grad Todd Summers catching on with Villanova football
His first reception for Franklin Regional went for a touchdown.
So did his first two at Villanova.
Todd Summers knows a few things about making a strong initial impression, but those events pale in comparison to what first-year Villanova offensive coordinator Chris Boden thought when he first saw the redshirt junior tight end.
“Just about the first thing I did after I got the job was sit down and watch the senior highlights from high school of all my players,” Boden said. “I thought he was our best player we had based on highlight film. … Villanova got a steal in Todd Summers.”
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Summers has been a mainstay in the Wildcats lineup since 2017, his redshirt freshman season. Primarily a run-blocker his first two seasons, Summers had three receptions (two for touchdowns) as a freshman and 11 catches for 148 yards and a TD as a sophomore.
What Boden — an ex-Villanova quarterback who was college teammates with former NFL star running back Brian Westbrook — saw on tape was a big target with soft hands who could get open.
Boden wanted Summers to get the ball more often, and that has happened this season.
Summers has 30 catches for 305 yards and four touchdowns for Villanova (9-3), a nationally ranked FCS program that opened the playoffs Saturday with a first-round game at Southeast Louisiana. The game ended after deadline for this edition.
“I feel great about what I’ve been able to do for the team,” Summers said. “I’ll do whatever the coaches tell me to do, whether it’s blocking on a run play or catching the football. I definitely prefer catching because it gets me away from all those big guys up front, but whatever helps us win works.”
A lot has worked for Summers, who caught TD passes in consecutive games (all wins) this season against Lehigh, Bucknell and Towson.
The Wildcats, who finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association but entered the postseason ranked No. 8 in the Stats FCS Top 25 and 10th in the FCS coaches poll, took a three-game winning streak into their first-round game.
Not bad for a team considered an afterthought going into the season.
“Since the beginning of the year, we knew what type of talent we had,” Summers said. “Our coaches always tell us, ‘Zero and nine.’ We had zero all-conference players in the preseason, and we were picked to finish ninth in the conference.”
The Wildcats had 10 players selected Tuesday to the CAA all-conference team, including junior offensive lineman and Mt. Lebanon grad Paul Grattan, a first-team selection and the other WPIAL representative on the Wildcats.
Summers might not have made all-conference, but there’s no denying his impact.
“My route running has improved significantly,” he said. “I wasn’t too great of a route-runner when I got here. The coaches have helped me a lot with that.”
So did his basketball background.
A 1,000-point scorer and four-year starter at Franklin Regional, Summers received interest from Robert Morris, Holy Cross, Pitt-Johnstown and others. Basketball was his sport of choice, but he gave football a try at the urging of longtime Panthers coach Greg Botta and quickly impressed. Kansas State and Iowa State were on his offer sheet, but Summers liked Villanova.
And at least one person believes he could continue his football career beyond Villanova.
“He’s a big, athletic, physical tight end with soft hands. I’ve been impressed with him from Day 1,” Boden said. “It’s hard to find those guys, especially guys with the intelligence and drive he has. There’s no doubt in my mind he has the mental toughness to play professional football.”