Dayton, Ohio- Phil Steele’s College Football Preview has selected seven University of Dayton football players on its pre-season All-Pioneer Football League team. In addition, Defensive back James Vercammen was named to the magazine’s Football Championship Subdivision Pre-Season All-America Third Team.
Six Flyers were named to the PFL first team, which tied with Jacksonville for the most first team selections. Quarterback Steve Valentino, center Justin Griffis, offensive guard Tyler Friedrich, defensive end Brandon Wingeier, linebacker Joe Ries, and Vercammen were all named to the first team. Fifth-year senior Justin Watkins rounded out Dayton’s list as a second team selection at wide receiver.
Vercammen headlines the first team pre-season picks on defense as the only PFL player who was named to the Steele All-America teams. Playing Dayton’s unique “Flyer” position, the senior led the PFL in total tackles (134), finished second in tackles for loss (17) and ninth in the league with six sacks. He was named Second Team FCS All-American by The Sports Network in 2009 and is on the preseason list in 2010.
Wingeier, a 2009 First Team All-PFL choice, joins Vercammen on the PFL first team. Wingeier, a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, has made 22 straight starts for the Flyers. Last year he finished with a team-high 6.5 sacks while recording 11.5 tackles for loss on 39 hits.
Ries recorded 70 tackles (2nd on team) and three interceptions (1st on team) in 2009, including a two-interception, one-forced-fumble, eight-tackle game versus Davidson. The Cincinnati St. Xavier High School graduate started every game at linebacker for the Flyers and is a 2010 co-captain.
A starter of all 11 games last year, Valentino opened the season at wide receiver before injuries forced him to step under center and play quarterback for the final 10 games. He would only go on to lead the Flyers to a share of the PFL title and be named the Pioneer Football League’s Offensive Player of the Year. He led the league in total offense, accounting for over 280 yards per game, and completed 59.4% (170 of 286) of his passes.
Protecting Valentino were fellow first teamers Griffis and Friedrich. The two were a part of a Dayton offensive line that only allowed 16 sacks in 2009 and returns five starters in 2010. Between them they have 26 starts under their belt and both earned All-PFL honors last year.
Watkins is coming off his most productive year in Red and Blue. In 2009, the Englewood, OH native caught 47 passes and led the team in receiving yards with 927. His 84.3 yards per game ranked him second in the league.
The Flyers, who were 9-2 in 2009, return 13 starters in total and open the season on Saturday, September 4 at home against Robert Morris.