Five members of the Valparaiso University football program were named to the All-Pioneer Football League First or Second Team on Tuesday, while nine others received All-PFL Honorable Mention.
A trio of Beacons landed on the all-league first team – senior running back Robert Washington (Huntersville, N.C. / East Gaston [Old Dominion]), redshirt junior kicker Brian Bartholomew and fifth-year senior punter Ben Niesner (Black Diamond, Wash. / Tahoma [Portland State]). In addition, fifth-year senior defensive lineman Trejuan Purty (Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville [East Tennessee State]) and sophomore return specialist Chuck Maxwell (Elkhart, Ind. / Elkhart Christian Academy) were tabbed to the All-PFL Second Team.
Washington finished the season with 1,105 rushing yards, the second-highest output in program history behind 1,358 by Jeff Horton in 2005. He became just the third 1,000-yard rusher in Valpo lore and tied the program record for single-season rushing touchdowns with 14. Despite playing only 17 games in a Brown & Gold uniform, the North Carolina native finished with 1,758 career rushing yards, a total that ranks ninth in program history.
Washington finished the season ranked 12th nationally in all-purpose yards per game at 131.27. He ranked ninth in the FCS nation in rushing TDs, 10th in rushing yards per game (100.5) and eighth in total rushing yards. Washington earned First Team All-PFL laurels for the second straight season after also being named the PFL Offensive Player of the Year following the Spring 2021 campaign.
Bartholomew led the PFL and ranked 34th nationally in field-goal percentage at .750 while also leading the league and ranking 26th in the nation in field goals per game at 1.20. He finished the year tied for second in single-season program history with 12 made field goals while cracking the program record book with 32 made PATs, which ranked fifth all-time. This represents Bartholomew’s second straight First Team All-PFL nod.
Also a repeat first team honoree, Niesner posted a punting average of 43.2 this season, a mark that ranked third in program history. He tied program and PFL records for single-season punting average during the Spring 2021 campaign at 43.6, earning him PFL co-Special Teams Player of the Year recognition for the spring season. Niesner finished this season with the league’s top punting average, a mark that ranked 16th nationally.
Purty averaged 1.4 tackles for loss per game, a number that placed him 19th nationally and second in the PFL. He totaled 40 tackles, 15 of which came behind the line of scrimmage including 6.5 sacks. In total, opponents lost 56 yards on Purty TFLs. He also had a pair of breakups and a QB hurry. After earning All-PFL Honorable Mention in both 2019 and Spring 2021, he was elevated to the second team this year.
Maxwell was a repeat All-PFL Second Team choice as a return specialist. His combined kick return total of 599 led the PFL and ranked 13th in the nation, while his kickoff return average of 25.0 led the league and ranked 22nd nationally. The speedy sophomore returned 24 kicks this fall including a long of 76.
Nine Beacons were recognized with All-PFL Honorable Mention – junior linebacker Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davidson), redshirt junior offensive lineman Aaron Byrd (Bradley, Ill. / Bourbonnais), fifth-year senior long snapper Doug Haugh (Redlands, Calif. / Redlands Senior), fifth-year senior tight end Connor Hebbeler (Franklin Lakes, N.J. / Bergen Catholic [Wake Forest]), senior defensive back Jadarius Horton (Charlotte, N.C. / West Charlotte [Southwestern College]), sixth-year defensive end Austin Martins (Newman, Calif. / Orestimba [Modesto JC]), redshirt junior linebacker Trey Psota (Bay Village, Ohio / Bay), senior wide receiver Ollie Reese (Franklin, Tenn. / Battle Ground) and sophomore defensive back Keyon Turner (Chicago, Ill. / Marist).
The PFL will release its all-academic teams on Wednesday.
2021 Pioneer Football League Major Award Winners
Offensive Player of the Year: BJ Byrd, Morehead State
Defensive Player of the Year: Vaughn Taylor Jr., Morehead State
Special Teams Player of the Year: Mekhai Johnson, Marist
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Hope Adebayo, St. Thomas
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Herzog, St. Thomas
Coach of the Year: Scott Abell, Davidson
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: To be announced, Wednesday
2021 All-Pioneer Football League First Team
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
WR BJ Byrd (U, 1) Morehead State 6-0 190 Sr. Richmond, Calif.
WR Jalyn Witcher Presbyterian 5-10 175 Fr. Little Rock, Ark.
WR Yogi Flager (2) Butler 5-10 165 RFr. Fairview Heights, Ill.
QB Mark Pappas (1) Morehead State 6-2 213 RJr. Avon Lake, Ohio
RB Jake Chisholm Dayton 5-9 191 Jr. Union, Ky.
RB Robert Washington (1) Valparaiso 5-11 220 Sr. Huntersville, N.C.
TE Jackson Sherrard (2) Davidson 6-5 233 Sr. Olney, Md.
FB Coy Williams (1) Davidson 5-11 213 Sr. Lumberton, Texas
A-P Jake Chisholm Dayton 5-9 191 Jr. Union, Ky.
OL Cole Foley (2) Davidson 6-4 290 Sr. Winston-Salem, N.C.
OL Matt Weimann St. Thomas 6-3 312 Sr. Oakdale, Minn.
OL Cam Marriott (1) Morehead State 6-3 300 Jr. Redlands, Calif.
OL Khalil Miller (1) Davidson 6-3 302 Sr. Lithonia, Ga.
OL DJ Wright (1) San Diego 6-4 275 RSr Pittsburg, Calif.
DL Johnathan Hammond (2) Davidson 6-2 227 So. Dunwoody, Ga.
DL Vaughn Taylor Jr. (3x, 1) Morehead State 6-2 252 Sr. Washington, D.C.
DL William Buck San Diego 6-0 285 RSo. Sacramento, Calif.
DL Fermon Reid (1) Stetson 6-0 245 Sr. Naples, Fla.
LB Zack Rumpke Dayton 6-2 303 RJr. Lexington, Ky.
LB Grant Dyer Dayton 6-2 224 RJr. Crescent Springs, Ky.
LB Jayden Johnson Marist 6-0 230 RJr. Linden, N.J.
LB Vincent Winey (1) Morehead State 6-1 230 Sr. Lindenhurst, N.Y.
DB Brandon Easterling Dayton 6-0 206 Sr. Fairborn, Ohio
DB Michael Hawkins (3x, 1) San Diego 6-1 200 Sr. San Diego, Calif.
DB Alex Rogers (H) Drake 6-0 210 5th Yr. Racine, Wis.
DB Teddy Wright Marist 6-0 212 RSr. Sharon Hill, Pa.
PK Brian Bartholomew (1) Valparaiso 5-11 165 RJr. Sugar Grove, Ill.
P Ben Niesner (1) Valparaiso 6-0 200 RSr. Black Diamond, Wash.
RS Mekhai Johnson Marist 5-11 201 RSr. Dorchester, Mass.
LS Brady McKnight Morehead State 6-1 200 Fr. Stephens City, Va.
Notes in parentheses: U-indicates a player was a unanimous first-team selection; 4x-is a four-time first-team All-PFL selection; 3x-is a three-time firstteam All-PFL selection; 1-was a first-team selection in 2020-21; 2-was a second-team selection in 2020-21; H-was a honorable mention selection in
2021 All-Pioneer Football League Second Team
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
WR Nazeviah Burris Stetson 6-0 180 Fr. Union, S.C.
WR Vance Jefferson San Diego 6-0 185 Fr. Poway, Calif.
WR Dwayne Menders Marist 5-10 155 RJr. Miramar, Fla.
QB Jack Cook Dayton 6-0 207 Sr. Cranberry Township, Pa.
RB Hope Adebayo St. Thomas 5-8 184 Fr. Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
RB Dylan Sparks Davidson 6-0 209 Jr. Centreville, Va.
TE Matt DeBlasio Morehead State 6-4 235 Grad. Seaford, N.Y.
TE Michael Gadinis San Diego 6-1 220 RSr. San Diego, Calif.
FB Nick Rice St. Thomas 5-10 194 Sr. Elk River, Minn.
A-P Delvecchio Powell Presbyterian 5-9 190 RSo. Pooler, Ga.
OL Billy Corte Stetson 6-5 285 RSo. Cleveland, Ohio
OL Ben Johnson Marist 6-3 282 RJr. South Williamsport, Pa.
OL Beck Kipperman Davidson 6-2 259 So. Round Rock, Texas
OL Grant Purlee Butler 6-2 305 RSr. Fort Wayne, Ind.
OL Mike Ruggeri St. Thomas 6-2 293 Sr. St. Louis, Mo.
DL Max Johnson Drake 6-3 280 5th Yr. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
DL Jake Hoper Drake 6-4 269 Sr. South Beloit, Ill.
DL Muhindo Kapapa San Diego 6-2 275 RSr. Fairfield, Calif.
DL Trejuan Purty Valparaiso 6-0 225 RSr. Maryville, Tenn.
LB Kama Kamaka San Diego 6-1 210 Sr. Kailua, Hawaii
LB Mike Arrington Marist 5-11 212 RJr. Ashburn, Va.
LB Luke Herzog St. Thomas 6-2 229 Fr. Mendota Heights, Minn.
LB Ben Schmiesing Dayton 6-1 226 Grad. Piqua, Ohio
DB Isaiah Hall St. Thomas 5-8 168 Sr. Burnsville, Minn.
DB Luke Glenna St. Thomas 5-11 188 Sr. Edina, Minn.
DB Clayborne Fields III Marist 5-11 190 RJr. Franklin, N.J.
DB Cooper Krezek Morehead State 6-0 200 RFr. Kansas City, Mo.
PK Sam Webster Dayton 5-10 265 So. Richfield, Ohio
P Andrew Foster Morehead State 6-3 222 Sr. Knoxville, Tenn.
RS Chuck Maxwell Valparaiso 5-5 140 So. Elkhart, Tenn.
LS Ryan Kriceri Drake 6-2 235 5th Yr. Aurora, Ill.
2021 All-Pioneer Football League Honorable Mention
BUTLER: Devin Aguilar (Sr., CB); Jacob Cain (RFr., LS/SS); Gaven Johnson (Sr., OT); Austin Korba (RFr., DT); Johnny O’Shea (RJr., WR); Connor Reid (RJr., S);
Austin Schwantz (Sr., TE); Trevor Scott (Sr., C); Skyler Spetter (RJr., OT); JJ Wadas (RFr., K). DAVIDSON: Jake Alexander (Sr., LB); Louis Colosimo (Sr., QB); Aris
Hilliard (Jr., AP); Dreylan Hines (Sr., S); Jalen Jefferson (Sr., LB); Kaedon Jenkins (Jr., CB); Aaron Maione (Fr., RS); Evan Pritchard (Sr., P); Jordan Reed (Sr., DT);
Jalen Staples (Sr., WR). DAYTON: Sam Bubonics (Jr., WR); Kyle Finnick (Sr., DT); Owen Smith (Grad., LS); Brian Stevens (Jr., OT); David Tkatch (Jr., OT). DRAKE:
Declan Carr (Sr., LB); Shane Dunning (So., P); Colin Howard (Jr., WR); Will Kulick (5th Yr., LB); Joey Lukrich (Jr., CB); Danny Morales (Sr., KR); Danny Morales (Sr.,
S); Ross Palmer (So., RG); Jeran Proctor (5th Yr., CB). MARIST: Jacob Abill (RSr., DE); Aaron Acosta (RJr., DE); Hunter Cobb (RJr., RB); Austin Day (RSr., QB); Nick
Foglia (RSr., DT); Mekhai Johnson (RSr., RB); Art Pinckney (RJr., LB). MOREHEAD STATE: DeVonte Adams (Sr., WR); Issiah Aguero (Sr., RB); Cam Barrett (Sr., LB);
Devon Connors (Jr., DL); Andrew Foster (Sr., PK/P); Khiyree Keith (Jr., DB); Tyler Noble (Sr., DB); Jaxsen Spears (Fr., OL). PRESBYTERIAN: Ren Hefley (RSo., QB);
Alex Herriott (Fr., LB); Delvecchio Powell (RSo., RB); Matthew Rivera (So., WR); Blake Tyler (Sr., C). SAN DIEGO: David Ambagtsheer (Jr., LB); Christian Brown (Jr.,
WR); Michael Carner (Jr., WR); Brandon Eickert (Jr., K); Bryce Fledderman (Sr., QB); Dominic Graziani (Sr., FB); Mykee Irving (Grad., DL); Cassius Johnson (Sr.,
CB); Finley Lecky (So., C); Hunter Nichols (Sr., S); Terrence Smith (Sr., RB); Amir Wallace (Jr., CB). ST. THOMAS: Jonathan Bunce (So., OLB); Kolby Gartner (So., P);
Joe Hird (Sr., CB/NB); Jack Mohler (So., ILB); Alec Rasmussen (Fr., OT); Max Zimmerman (Jr., TE). STETSON: Dominic Carlucci (RSo., TE); Majeste’ Hansberry (Sr.,
LB); Josh Hughes (RFr., DT); Ethan Hull (Jr., LB); Rassie Littlejohn (Jr., FS); Jalen Mason (Sr., WR); Davion Maxwell (RSo., SS); Alex Piccirilli (Sr., QB); Michael
Wojciechowski (RSo., LS). VALPARAISO: Evan Annis (Jr., LB); Aaron Byrd (Sr., OL); Doug Haugh (Sr., LS); Connor Hebbeler (RSr., TE); Jadarius Horton (Sr., CB);
Austin Martins (Sr., DE); Trey Psota (Sr., LB); Ollie Reese (Sr., WR); Keyon Turner (So., CB).