Lafayette's Matt Smalley
Dec. 30, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The Patriot League had eight selections to the 2013 Division I ECAC FCS All-Star Team announced last week, including a League-high four from Fordham.
The Rams had four juniors selected as quarterback Michael Nebrich, wide receiver Sam Ajala, tight end Dan Light and linebacker Stephen Hodge all made the squad. Also earning spots on the ECAC FCS All-Star Team were Lehigh senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis, Colgate junior defensive back Mike Armiento and Lafayette sophomore Matt Smalley, who was the only player to make the squad at multiple positions as he was selected at defensive back and return specialist.
Half of the players have already been named All-Americans this season. Kurfis and Ajala were selected by both The Sports Network and Associated Press, while Nebrich and Hodge were third-team Sports Network picks. Each of the seven student-athletes selected by the ECAC were first-team All-Patriot League picks in November.
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, and was named a first-team All-American by Sports Network and second-team by AP.
Fordham's prolific offense propelled the Rams to a 12-2 record and the second round of the FCS playoffs, and Nebrich, Ajala and Light each earn praise 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, and was named a second-team All-American by both Sports Network and AP. Light hauled in 66 receptions for 588 yards and two touchdowns, with 22 receptions for 190 yards in Fordham's two playoff games.
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.
Armiento finished the year with 92 tackles and six interceptions, while Smalley had 63 tackles and five interceptions for the Patriot League champion Leopards and also led the League and ranked among the top players in FCS with a 29.2 kickoff return average which included a pair of touchdowns.
The Patriot League's eight selections tied for second among all conferences with the Ivy League, behind only the Colonial Athletic Association with 12. Fordham's four honorees were second to only Towson (six) among all schools.
View the entire ECAC FCS All-Star Team