Dec. 18, 2013
Sports Network FCS All-America Team
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Six Patriot League players, including four from Fordham, earned a spot on The Sports Network FCS All-America Team announced on Thursday.
Lehigh senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis was the lone first-team selection from the Patriot League, while Fordham junior wide receiver Sam Ajala and junior offensive lineman Mason Halter made the second team. Two more Fordham juniors were on the third team in quarterback Michael Nebrich and linebacker Stephen Hodge, while Bucknell senior defensive end Tracey Smith also made the third-team list.
It is the fifth straight year with at least four Patriot Leaguers on The Sports Network FCS All-America Team, with 26 players selected during that span. The six selections match the 2011 season for the most since seven players were honored in 2003.
Fordham becomes the first Patriot League team with at least four selections to The Sports Network All-America Team since Holy Cross had five in 1991. The Rams tied two-time defending FCS champion for third among all schools with four All-Americans, behind only the five of Eastern Illinois and Towson.
Kurfis enjoyed an outstanding season for the Mountain Hawks, setting a school record and placing second in Patriot League history with 99 receptions and coming in fourth place in League annals with 1,351 receiving yards. Kurfis also caught nine touchdowns, and led the FCS with 122.8 receiving yards per game. He was one of two receivers to be named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award as the Most Outstanding Player in FCS. Kurfis becomes the second Lehigh wide receiver to earn first-team Sports Network All-America honors in the past three years after his former teammate, Ryan Spadola, took the recognition in 2011.
Fordham's prolific offense propelled the Rams to a 12-2 record and the second round of the FCS playoffs, and Nebrich, Ajala and Halter each earn All-America status for their contributions to the attack. 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. Nebrich was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year and finished fifth in the Walter Payton Award voting. Ajala was his top receiver with 93 catches for a Patriot League single-season record 1,646 yards and 14 touchdowns. The first-team All-Patriot League pick came in fourth in League history in receptions, and tied for second in touchdown catches. Halter was voted as the top offensive lineman by Patriot League coaches to earn first-team All-League status as he helped pave the way for an offense which averaged 515.3 yards and 37.6 points per game.
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 paced all FCS players with 94 solo tackles.
Fordham has a Sports Network All-American for the third year in a row after punter/kicker Patrick Murray was honored each of the last two seasons. The only other instances of four or more Sports Network All-Americans from a Patriot League team were all for Holy Cross in 1987 (six), 1988 (four) and 1991 (five). With all four honorees as juniors, Fordham will have more returning All-Americans than any team in the country next season.
Smith earned first-team All-Patriot League status, and was voted as the League's top defensive lineman by head coaches, after totaling 45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the season. Smith is Bucknell's second Sports Network All-American in the past three seasons after defensive back Bryce Robertson was a first-team selection in 2011.
The Sports Network is the first of the four major FCS All-America teams to release its lists. The Associated Press, Walter Camp and American Football Coaches Association will be announced in the coming week.
View the entire Sports Network FCS All-America Team