July 30, 2014
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Fordham dominated the senior-laden Football Preseason All-Patriot League Team with 12 selections and both of the individual award winners when the squad was announced on Wednesday during the sport's Media Day at Green Pond Country Club.
Quarterback Mike Nebrich was named the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while his, teammate, linebacker Stephen Hodge, earned the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award. Both players earned the individual honors following the 2013 season, with Nebrich also placing fifth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award as the Most Outstanding Player in the FCS.
Eleven of Fordham's Preseason All-Patriot League selections are seniors, and seven of those came on offense. Joining Nebrich on that side of the ball were the wide receiving trio of Sam Ajala, Tebucky Jones and Brian Wetzel, tight end Dan Light, offensive lineman Mason Halter and placekicker Michael Marando. The rest of the Preseason All-Patriot League offense included senior Ross Scheuerman (Lafayette) and sophomore C.J. Williams (Bucknell) at running back, senior Ed Pavalko (Colgate) at fullback/H-back, seniors Ned Daryoush (Lehigh), Luke Chiarolanzio (Lafayette) and Lonnie Rawles (Bucknell) and sophomore Julie'n Davenport (Bucknell) on the offensive line, and juniors Kalif Raymond (Holy Cross) and Matt Smalley (Lafayette) at return specialist.
Fordham senior DeAndre Slate and graduate student Brett Biestek were on the defensive line along with seniors Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood (Bucknell) and Tim Newton (Lehigh). Hodge was at linebacker along with a senior-laden group of Evan Byers (Bucknell), Nick Alfieri (Georgetown) and Kris Kent (Colgate). The defensive backfield featured seniors Ian Williams (Fordham), Mike Armiento (Colgate) and Matthew Steinbeck (Bucknell) as well as Smalley, while Fordham sophomore Joe Pavlik made it at punter as the only non-senior for the Rams.
Bucknell followed Fordham with six selections on the squad, while Lafayette notched four, Colgate had three, Lehigh picked up one and Holy Cross and Georgetown had one apiece. Voting for the individual awards and preseason All-League Team was conducted by the Patriot League's head coaches and football sports information directors, who could not vote for their own players.
Nebrich enters the season with a pair of accolades from The Sports Network, as the organization named him a second-team preseason All-American as well as a candidate for the Walter Payton Award. Nebrich set 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 last year. He led the Rams to a 12-2 record and the second round of the playoffs, and Fordham finished the season ranked in the top ten nationally. Nebrich was a second-team All-American and Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year.
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 tied for the national lead in forced fumbles and also paced all FCS players with 94 solo tackles. He has been recognized as a Preseason First-Team All-American by The Sports Network.
Fordham's wide receiving trio all come off fantastic junior seasons. Ajala hauled in 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, and has been named a Preseason First-Team All-American and candidate for the Walter Payton Award Watch by The Sports Network. Jones caught 85 passes for 1,154 yards and five touchdowns while Wetzel had 89 receptions for 1,094 yards and 14 touchdowns and enters his senior season just 35 receptions away from second in Patriot League history and within 100 of the League record. 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. Both were Sports Network Preseason All-Americans, with Halter on the second team and Light on the third team. Marando made 19-of-26 field goals last year, and his 120 points were a single-season record for a Patriot League placekicker.
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. He was named a Preseason Second-Team All-American by The Sports Network as an all-purpose player. Daryoush was a Sports Network Preseason Third-Team All-American after earning his second All-Patriot League honor last season. Williams (899 rushing yards, 8 TD), Pavalko (2 rushing TD), Rawles, Davenport, Chiarloanzio and Smalley (29.6 KR avg., 2 TD) each earned All-Patriot League status last season, while Raymond (21.1 KR avg) was a 2012 All-Patriot League player.
Byers joined Hodge on The Sports Network Preseason All-America squad, earning a third-team selection after leading the League with 129 tackles to go with 10.5 tackles for loss. Hodge and Byers were first-team All-Patriot League linebackers last season, while Alfieri (92 TT, 7.5 TFL) and Kent (91 TT, 11 TFL) made the second team. The defensive line features three first-team All-Patriot Leaguers in Slate (49 TT, 14.5 TFL, 7 sacks), Biestek (58 TT, 14.5 TFL, 5 sacks) and Newton (58 TT, 8.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks) while Baldwin-Youngblood (45 TT, 11.5 TFL, 8 sacks) was on the second team. Armiento (92 TT, 6 INT), Williams (86 TT, 4 INT) and Smalley (63 TT, 5 INT) were all first-team picks in the defensive backfield while Steinbeck (64 TT, 5 INT) made the second team, and Pavlik (39.4 avg.) was the second-team punter.
The Preseason All-Patriot League squad features a bounty of overall talent as 17 players earned first-team All-Patriot League status last year and 10 were on the second team. Twenty-three of the 28 players named to the preseason squad are heading into their senior season, with Smalley and Raymond playing their junior year and C.J. Williams, Davenport and Pavlik as the sophomores on the list.
2014 Patriot League Football Preseason All-League Team
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Mike Nebrich, QB, Fordham (Sr.)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Stephen Hodge, LB, Fordham (Sr.)
QB Mike Nebrich, Fordham (Sr.)
RB Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette (Sr.)
RB C.J. Williams, Bucknell (So.)
FB/HB Ed Pavalko, Colgate (Sr.)
WR Sam Ajala, Fordham (Sr.)
WR Tebucky Jones, Fordham (Sr.)
WR Brian Wetzel, Fordham (Sr.)
TE Dan Light, Fordham (Sr.)
OL Luke Chiarolanzio, Lafayette (Sr.)
OL Ned Daryoush, Lehigh (Sr.)
OL Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell (So.)
OL Mason Halter, Fordham (Sr.)
OL Lonnie Rawles, Bucknell (Sr.)
RS Kalif Raymond, Holy Cross (Jr.)
RS Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
PK Michael Marando, Fordham (Sr.)
DL Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, Bucknell (Sr.)
DL Brett Biestek, Fordham (Gr.)
DL Tim Newton, Lehigh (Sr.)
DL DeAndre Slate, Fordham (Sr.)
LB Nick Alfieri, Georgetown (Sr.)
LB Evan Byers, Bucknell (Sr.)
LB Stephen Hodge, Fordham (Sr.)
LB Kris Kent, Colgate (Sr.)
DB Mike Armiento, Colgate (Sr.)
DB Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
DB Matthew Steinbeck, Bucknell (Sr.)
DB Ian Williams, Fordham (Sr.)
P Joe Pavlik, Fordham (So.)