Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Bryant wide receiver Jordan Harris, judging by his past standards, had a down year in 2012. His yards per catch, believe it or not, actually dropped to 20.4 last season.
That should be a quick indicator of how valuable his pass-catching ability is to the Bulldogs offense. Harris enters this season on the Walter Payton Award Watch List, and rightfully so. As a junior, he hauled in 15 touchdown catches a year ago.
Here's another one for you: you'd have to go back to the first game of the 2012-13 season to find the last time Harris didn't have a scoring reception.
Harris is one of the many playmakers in the Northeast Conference capable of taking over a game, or even an entire season. Linebacker Dorian Bell has the same game-changing ability, just on the defensive side of the ball for Duquesne.
But teams will need more than just one impact player on their roster if they look to challenge defending NEC champ Wagner.
Last year, the Seahawks became the first NEC team to win an FCS playoff game (the NEC champion started receiving an automatic playoff bid in 2010). Wagner defeated Patriot League champion Colgate, then bowed out to eventual national semifinalist Eastern Washington.
Coach Walt Hameline's crew was a very well-rounded squad in 2012. Thus, the playoff berth and first career playoff victory. His Seahawks were picked to top the NEC yet again in 2013 with returning impact players like Dominique Williams and Jarrett Dieudonne. The Seahawks' depth could cause some concern throughout the rest of the league.
Legendary Robert Morris coach Joe Walton is retiring at the end of this season, and his Colonials will likely make a push for the top spot while rallying behind him in his final go-around.
You can't even count out St. Francis' struggling program as running back Kyle Harbridge returns from injury to join a slew of solid defenders.
The likelihood that one team runs away with the NEC in 2013 is slim to none.
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 Northeast Conference race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
2. Robert Morris
4. Central Connecticut State
6. Saint Francis (Pa.)
7. Sacred Heart