Fordham's Sam Ajala
July 3, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Eight Patriot League players received Preseason FCS All-America status from The Sports Network on Monday, with Fordham tying for the most selections nationally with five on the list.
The Rams had a pair of first-team selections, with wide receiver Sam Ajala on offense and linebacker Stephen Hodge on defense. Quarterback Mike Nebrich and offensive lineman Mason Halter made the second-team offense, with tight end Dan Light on the third team.
Lafayette running back/return specialist Ross Scheuerman earned a spot on the second team as an all-purpose player, with Lehigh offensive lineman Ned Daryoush and Bucknell linebacker Evan Byers each making the third team.
The eight Patriot League selections are all heading into their senior season. Each player earned All-Patriot League status last season, with Nebrich and Hodge earning the Patriot League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards, respectively.
A handful of the honorees also received national honors for their play last season. Ajala was a second-team All-American by both The Sports Network and Associated Press, while Nebrich was a second-team Sports Network All-American who also placed fifth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award as the FCS Most Outstanding Player. Halter made the Sports Network second team and Hodge was on the third team as Fordham had four All-Americans following last year's campaign. Light joined Ajala, Nebrich and Hodge as an ECAC FCS All-Star.
Fordham's prolific offense propelled the Rams to a 12-2 record and the second round of the FCS playoffs, Nebrich finished the year with Patriot League single-season records for passing yardage (4,380), passing touchdowns (35), total offense (4,893), touchdowns responsible for (44), completion percentage (73.5) and passing efficiency (171.3), and his 353 completions were just five off the League record. Ajala was his top receiver with 93 catches for a Patriot League single-season record 1,646 yards and 14 touchdowns. He came in fourth in League history in receptions and tied for second in touchdown catches. Light hauled in 66 receptions for 588 yards and two touchdowns, with 22 receptions for 190 yards in Fordham's two playoff games. Halter was the top blocker up front for the offensive line that helped the Rams to the great success.
Hodge led the Fordham defense and earned Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year honors while finishing with 124 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. He is tied for the national lead in forced fumbles and also paces all FCS players with 94 solo tackles.
Scheuerman made the All-Patriot League team for a third straight season as he earned a second-team honor in 2013. The multi-purpose threat finished the year with 1,113 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, 31 receptions for 337 yards and four TDs and 1,920 all-purpose yards.
Daryoush and Byers each earned first-team All-Patriot League status last season after making the second-team in 2012. Daryoush established himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the Patriot League, while Byers led the League with 129 tackles to go with 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.