July 21, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - A strong Patriot League football senior class is racking up plenty of preseason recognition with just over a month to go until the opening kickoff of the 2014 season.
Twenty-five Patriot Leaguers received preseason accolades recently from either College Football Performance Awards or Beyond Sports Network, and 20 of those student-athletes are entering their senior season. That builds on the previous accolades for Patriot League seniors from The Sports Network, the top FCS media outlet which named Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich and wide receiver Sam Ajala as Payton Award candidates and linebacker Stephen Hodge as a Buchanan Award candidate and also placed eight Patriot League seniors on its Preseason All-America Team.
On the Beyond Sports Network Preseason FCS All-America Team, Nebrich, Ajala and Hodge earned first-team honors along with their classmate, offensive lineman Mason Halter. Two more Fordham seniors, tight end Dan Light and placekicker Michael Marando, made the second team along with Colgate fullback Ed Pavalko. Four Patriot Leaguers were placed on the third team: offensive linemen Lonnie Rawles (Bucknell) and Ned Daryoush (Lehigh) and defensive backs Matt Smalley (Lafayette) and Mike Armiento (Colgate). Smalley, a junior, is the only one of the 11 players that is not entering his senior season.
College Football Performance Awards aims to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.
CFPA released FCS positional watch lists heading into the 2014 season with 21 Patriot Leaguers, including 16 seniors, earning recognition. Fordham has 10 of the watch list nominees, followed by Lafayette with four and Bucknell with three. Patriot Leaguers have won season-ending CFPA awards six times in the last four seasons, including Lafayette quarterback Drew Reed as the National FCS Freshman Performer of the Year in 2013.
The list of Patriot Leaguers on watch lists for CFPA positional awards follows below.
CFPA FCS Positional Watch List Nominees
Quarterback: Mike Nebrich, Fordham (Sr.); Peter Pujals, Holy Cross (So.); Drew Reed, Lafayette (So.)
Running Back: Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette (Sr.)
Wide Receiver: Sam Ajala, Fordham (Sr.); Brian Wetzel, Fordham (Sr.); Tebucky Jones Jr., Fordham (Sr.)
Tight End: Dan Light, Fordham (Sr.)
Defensive Line: Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, Bucknell (Sr.); Brett Biestek, Fordham (Sr.); Alec May, Georgetown (Sr.)
Linebacker: Evan Byers, Bucknell (Sr.); Kris Kent, Colgate (Sr.); Stephen Hodge, Fordham (Sr.)
Defensive Back: Matthew Steinbeck, Bucknell (Sr.); Mike Armiento, Colgate (Sr.); Ian Williams, Fordham (Sr.); Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
Placekicker: Michael Marando, Fordham (Sr.); Ryan Gralish, Lafayette (Jr.)
Kickoff Returner: Jorge Solano, Fordham (So.); Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
Punt Returner: Brian Wetzel, Fordham (Sr.)
All-Purpose: Brian Wetzel, Fordham (Sr.); Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette (Sr.)