November 04, 20231st2nd3rd4thFinal
1st Quarter
VALPOTD10:23BUTLER 7 Yd Run (HAWK kick)
2nd Quarter
VALPOTD13:30VICKERS 13 Yd Pass From KEEFE (HAWK kick)
3rd Quarter
DAYTONTD07:57Hansen 5 Yd Run (Holt kick)
4th Quarter
VALPOTD12:47DAVIS 14 Yd Pass From KEEFE (HAWK kick)
Stats at a GlanceDAYTONVALPO
1st Downs1214
3rd Down Conversions6-166-16
4th Down Conversions0-20-0
Passing (Comp-Att)107 (16-27) 126 (15-21)
Rushing (Att)68 (33) 93 (39)
Total Yards175219
Fumbles Lost11
Football to Host Dayton on Saturday
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Football to Host Dayton on Saturday
Ryan Mann has rushed for a team-high 256 yards this season.

Dayton (2-6, 0-5 PFL)
at Valparaiso (1-7, 0-5 PFL)

Game #9 Saturday, Nov. 4, 1 p.m. CT
Brown Field (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.

This Week in Valpo Football: The calendar flips to November this week as the Valparaiso University football team returns to Brown Field for the first of back-to-back games to close out the 2023 home slate. Valpo fans have been treated to exclusively thrilling contests in each of the team’s home outings this season, a trend that could continue as head coach Landon Fox matches up with his former team with Dayton in town this week.

Previously: It was a game of “almosts” for Valpo last week as rival Butler held on to the Hoosier Helmet trophy with a 17-7 win in Indianapolis. Valpo turned the ball over just once and punted just once on a day where the Beacons accrued 289 yards of total offense, but they were limited to just seven points as three missed field goals and two turnovers on downs played a factor. The Bulldogs possessed the football for 38:59 to Valpo’s 21:01 including a pair of elongated drives totaling upwards of 18 minutes and chewing up much of the second-half clock. Solomon Davis had a 70-yard touchdown run and Wade Abrams recorded 13 tackles to supply Beacon bright spots.

Series Notes: Dayton holds a large lead in the all-time series at 27-4, but Valpo has won two of the last three Brown Field showdowns including a 45-28 rout in 2021. Last season, Dayton defended Welcome Stadium with a 31-24 win, a game that saw the Beacons rally from a 14-point deficit to take the lead early in the second half before the Flyers scored a go-ahead touchdown in the closing seconds. Three of Valpo’s four wins in the all-time series have come at Brown Field – 2021, 2017 and 2000. The Beacons lone win in Ohio occurred in 2003.

Following the Beacons: Like all Valpo football home games, Saturday’s contest will be carried on ESPN+. Legendary Valpo voice Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Valpo Athletics Hall of Famer Tom Byrne (analyst) will have the call. In addition, the radio commentary will air on 95.1 FM WVUR, The TuneIn Radio App and For in-game updates, follow @valpoufootball on Twitter. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on

Head Coach Landon Fox: Landon Fox (15-34) is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Valparaiso University football program in 2023. Over the last three seasons, Fox has led Valpo to 12 Pioneer Football League victories, the most in a three-year period in program history. The program finished with a PFL record of .500 or better for a third consecutive season in 2022, the first time that has occurred since 1998-2000. Prior to that, Valpo had not had a stretch of three straight years with a league record of .500 or better since 1961-1964. The program won four PFL games in the same season just once in the 26 seasons prior to Fox’s arrival. Now, the program has reached that threshold in three straight seasons and three of the first four years under his direction (Spring 2021, Fall 2021, 2022). During his four years in charge of the program, Valpo has boasted 43 All-PFL honorees and 22 academic all-PFL selections.  During his second season at the helm in Spring 2021, Fox was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award – which is presented annually to the FCS National Coach of the Year – after guiding Valpo to its best winning percentage since 2003 and tying for the squad’s best winning percentage since 1999. He led his team to Pioneer Football League runner-up honors, the program’s highest finish in the league standings since the PFL championship season of 2003. Fox’s defensive roots paid dividends on that side of the football in his second year at the helm, as the team enjoyed its best defensive season in four decades. Valpo held opponents to 283.3 yards per game, the program’s best total defense in the last 40 years. In Year 1 of the Fox Era in 2019, Valpo ranked in the Top 5 in the PFL in scoring defense (32.0, fifth), total defense (381.6, fourth), rushing defense (184.2, fourth) and passing defense (197.3, fifth). After spending the previous 11 seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of Dayton, Fox was named the head football coach at Valpo prior to the 2019 season. He helped the Flyers finish with 10 winning seasons in his 11 years on staff and guided a defensive backfield that produced one All-American, four Academic All-Americans, two PFL Special Teams Players of the Year and three corners who were invited to NFL Rookie Minicamp. Prior to joining Dayton’s staff, Fox served as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Wayne State University in Detroit from 2005-2007. He also spent time as a defensive graduate assistant at Ball State University (2004), Dayton (2002-2003) and Lakeland College (2001). Fox began his coaching career as an assistant varsity coach at Preble Shawnee High School in Camden, Ohio during the 2000 season. During his playing days, Fox was a team captain and all-conference performer at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio from 1995-1999 and graduated with a degree in physical education and health in May 2000 before earning his master’s degree in education from Lakeland in May 2002.

Fox’s 50th

  • Saturday’s game vs. Dayton will represent Landon Fox’s 50th as Valpo head coach.
  • A win on Saturday would allow Fox to have an identical record to his predecessor Dave Cecchini through 50 games at Valpo. Cecchini beat Butler 35-17 in his 50th game on Oct. 13, 2018.
  • A win would allow Fox to tie for the most victories by a Valpo head coach through the first 50 games of a tenure since the late Bill Koch coached his 50th game on Sept. 18, 1982 at Wisconsin Eau Claire.

Abrams in Action

  • After being sidelined the previous two games with an injury, linebacker Wade Abrams returned to action on Oct. 28 at Butler.
  • The redshirt freshman made his presence felt in the rivalry matchup, posting a career-high 13 tackles. This outdid his previous season watermark of seven that came on Sept. 23 vs. Marist.
  • Abrams’ tackle total – which featured 10 solo stops – was the highest by a Beacon this season. Prior to the Oct. 21 game at Davidson, no Valpo player had boasted a double-figure tackle total this year. Now, four Beacons have turned the trick in the last two contests, two in each game – Mohamed Kamara (10) and Evan Annis (10) at Davidson; Abrams (13) and Colin Graves (10) at Butler.
  • Graves’ tackle total also represented a career high, outdoing his previous personal best of nine from last season’s game at Dayton.
  • Abrams posted the highest tackle total by a Beacon since Oct. 29, 2022 (James Doerer, 13 at Dayton).
  • Abrams is second on the team in tackles per game with 6.33, behind only Evan Annis at 6.38. Annis leads the team with 51 tackles this season and has 168 in his career, the most among active Beacons.

Strength of Schedule

  • The Pioneer Football League schedule has proven to be a difficult one as four of the five teams that Valpo has faced in league play hold a combined 18-4 league mark.
  • Four of Valpo’s five PFL defeats have come to four of the top five teams in the league – Davidson (5-0), Drake (5-0), Butler (4-2) and Marist (4-2).
  • Meanwhile, Valpo has played just one of the other five teams that are below .500 in league play. Two of the league’s sub-.500 squads are not on Valpo’s schedule at all this season – Presbyterian (1-4) and San Diego (2-3).
  • After this set of back-to-back home games, Valpo will have another tough test to close out the season with a Nov. 18 game at St. Thomas, the preseason favorite to win the PFL and a squad that currently owns a 5-1 mark.

A Solo Shot

  • After entering the Oct. 28 game with 12 career rushing yards, Solomon Davis enjoyed a 70-yard touchdown run to account for Valpo’s lone points at Butler.
  • His first collegiate rushing score was his ninth overall touchdown and fifth this season. He also had two catches for a team-high 68 yards in the game against the Bulldogs.
  • Davis’ 70-yard run was Valpo’s longest offensive play this season. The team’s three longest offensive plays of the season have all come in the last two weeks – Brandon Jimenez’s 68-yard reception at Davison, Chris Gundy’s 60-yard reception at Davidson and the aforementioned rush by Davis.
  • Davis’s run at Butler was Valpo’s longest offensive play since Aaron Dawson’s 99-yard touchdown run on Oct. 15 of last season, also against the Bulldogs.
  • Davis ranks top five in the PFL and top 50 nationally in receiving touchdowns (four), receiving yards (66.5) and receiving yards per game (4.5).

First-Half Shutout

  • The Valpo defense kept Butler off the scoreboard in the first half of the Oct. 28 game in Indianapolis.
  • This was the first time Butler has been shutout in a half this season. The Bulldogs were most recently held scoreless in the first half of last season’s finale vs. PFL champion St. Thomas.
  • This marked the first time Valpo held an opponent off the scoreboard for a half since putting together a second-half shutout on Sept. 30 vs. Southwest Minnesota State.
  • The last time Valpo held a league opponent off the scoreboard for an entire half was Butler last season. Valpo led 13-0 at the break on Oct. 15, 2022 at Brown Field.
  • Three of the last four times that the Valpo defense has put together a scoreless half in league play, it has come against Butler. The Bulldogs were scoreless after halftime in Valpo’s 47-3 win on Nov. 13, 2021, so the last three Hoosier Helmet rivalry matchups have seen the Valpo defense blank Butler in one of the two halves.
  • This year’s scoreless tie at the half represented Valpo’s first game in which neither team produced any first-half points since April 3, 2021 at Drake, an eventual 10-7 Valpo victory.

Keeping Punts to a Minimum

  • Valpo had a season-low one punt on Oct. 28 at Butler, the first time this season that the offense was forced to punt fewer than three times.
  • The game featured an unusual combination as Valpo punted just once and committed only one turnover but produced just seven points. Missed field goals (0-3), turnovers on downs (two) and Butler dominating time of possession all played a factor.
  • This marked the first time Valpo had one punt or fewer since Dec. 12, 2019 vs. Dayton, when Valpo did not punt in a 41-28 loss to Dayton. That was the first time Valpo did not punt in a game in over 18 years.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Oct. 28: Butler 17, Valpo 7

  • Jimmy Pouba notched his first forced fumble and fumble recovery with the Brown & Gold.
  • Butler converted eight third downs and went 4-for-4 on fourth down.
  • Valpo accumulated 289 yards of total offense, edged by Butler’s 335 in that category. The Beacons out-passed the Bulldogs 172-89.
  • Quarterback Rowan Keefe went 11-of-19 passing for 172 yards in his first collegiate start.
  • Running back Ryan Mann accrued 47 yards on 10 carries.

Among PFL and National Leaders

  • Valpo leads the league and ranks 12th nationally in kickoff return average at 24.20.
  • Jashon Butler ranks second in the PFL and third nationally in combined kickoff return yards at 575. He is first in the league and fourth in the nation in kickoff return average at 31.9.
  • Tyler Geiman leads the league and ranks second nationally in passes defended per game at 1.8.
  • Evan Matthes leads the league and ranks 20th in the nation in punting average at 43.1.

Scouting the Flyers

  • Have dropped five straight games to open league play after nonconference wins over Central State (62-24) and Taylor (52-20).
  • Close losses in league action have come against preseason favorite St. Thomas (20-14) and Presbyterian (20-17).
  • Enter the game well rested, coming off a bye week following a 37-10 loss to Butler on Oct. 21.
  • Picked to finish third in the PFL Preseason Poll.
  • Under the direction of first-year head coach Trevor Andrews after Rick Chamberlin retired after last season following 48 years with the program as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

Brown Field Cliffhangers

  • Since the start of last season, seven of the nine games played at Brown Field have been one-score affairs, including all three this year entering Saturday’s game vs. Dayton.
  • In Landon Fox’s 49 games as Valpo head coach, 23 (46.9 percent) have been decided by seven points or fewer, most recently a 24-21 loss to Morehead State on Oct. 14 of this season.
  • Valpo is 8-15 in those one-score games. Since Fox took over the program, 62.5 percent of the team’s games have been either victories or defeats by seven points or fewer.
  • Just eight games into his fifth season and with one of those first four seasons being shortened to six games, Fox has already coached more one-score games at Valpo than the program’s previous two head coaches – Dave Cecchini (13 in five full seasons) and Dale Carlson (six in four seasons) – combined.
  • In 48 games under Fox, Valpo has played more one-score games than it did in 110 games from 2007-2018.
  • The Week 7 game vs. Morehead State was Valpo’s fifth straight game decided by fewer than seven points. This was the first time Valpo has had a streak of five or more one-score games consecutively since six straight during the PFL championship season of 2003 – at Jacksonville, vs. Morehead State, at Dayton, vs. San Diego, vs. Drake and at Butler.

A Dandy Debut

  • Redshirt freshman quarterback Rowan Keefe was inserted into the game at halftime on Oct. 21 at Davidson with his team down 21-0. He helped the Beacons play even in the second half of a 42-21 loss to the first-place Wildcats.
  • Keefe went 9-of-12 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns while tossing no interceptions.
  • Keefe became the first Valpo quarterback to throw three touchdown passes with no interceptions in a game since Ben Nimz on Nov. 13, 2021 at Butler.
  • Keefe completed a 68-yard pass to Brandon Jimenez, Valpo’s longest play from scrimmage this season and the team’s longest passing play since Griffin Norberg’s 75-yard reception from Chris Duncan on Nov. 10, 2018.
  • The Keefe to Jimenez play surpassed Solomon Davis’ 67-yard catch from last season against Dayton for Valpo’s longest passing play of the Landon Fox Era.
  • Prior to Keefe’s entrance, Valpo had just one passing play of 60+ yards in the program’s previous 44 games. The rookie completed two passes of 60+ yards in his first half of collegiate football, adding a 60-yard touchdown pass to Chris Gundy that came just 2:48 of game time after his connection with Jimenez.
  • Keefe became the first Valpo quarterback to complete two passes of 60+ yards in the same season (let alone, same game) since Chris Duncan had three such heaves in 2018 – all to Griffin Norberg.
  • Keefe became the first Valpo quarterback to complete two passes of 60+ yards in the same game since Eric Hoffman on Nov. 16, 2013 vs. Dayton. Hoffman found Tanner Kuramata (78 yards) and Tony Taibi (70 yards) in that one.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Davidson: Davidson 42, Valpo 21

  • Brandon Jimenez had two catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Chris Gundy had two grabs for 73 yards and a score. Solomon Davis made a team-high four catches.
  • Jimenez’s TD catch was his second of the season, while Gundy’s represented the first of his collegiate career. Thomas also recorded his first collegiate score.
  • Jashon Butler had two kickoff returns for 90 yards including a long of 68, his third of 60+ yards this season.
  • Evan Annis and Mohamed Kamara led the Valpo defense by accruing 10 tackles apiece. This marked the first time this season that a Valpo player racked up 10 or more tackles.
  • Davidson improved to 16-1 in its last 17 home games and 4-0 in PFL play this season. The Wildcats are among the national leaders in most offensive categories. They have made three straight FCS Playoff appearances.

Mann oh Mann!

  • Ryan Mann finished with a career-high 102 rushing yards on 12 carries on Oct. 14 vs. Morehead State, becoming the first Beacon to rush for 100 yards in a game this season. The last Valpo player to do so was Aaron Dawson on Nov. 12, 2022 at Marist (199).
  • Mann accounted for two of the team’s three scores, hauling in a 21-yard pass from Jeffrey Jackson in addition to breaking free for a 23-yard run.
  • The rushing score was Mann’s second of the season, while the receiving score was the first of his collegiate career.

Nice to Meet You, Chris Gundy

  • Entering the Oct. 14 game vs. Morehead State, redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Gundy had one career reception for nine yards. That first collegiate grab came the previous week at Drake.
  • Gundy enjoyed a breakout day against the Eagles, soaring for six catches to the tune of 74 yards with a long of 29.
  • He and Solomon Davis were top targets of quarterback Jeffrey Jackson, who made his first start with the Brown & Gold. That duo combined for 13 catches and 168 yards through the air.

Fake It & Make It

  • One of the Valpo highlights in the Oct. 14 game vs. Morehead State was a successful fake punt on fourth-and-7 at the Morehead State 47.
  • Punter Evan Matthes completed a 23-yard pass to Mark Johnson for a first down.
  • This marks the second straight season that Valpo attempted a fake punt against Morehead State. Last year in Kentucky, Matthes attempted to run for what would have been a game-clinching first down, but he was spotted just shy on a fourth-and-4 at the Morehead 46 with one minute on the clock. Valpo still went on to win the game.
  • This was the first time a Valpo punter attempted a pass since Ben Niesner on Oct. 30, 2021 at San Diego. That one fell incomplete.
  • This was Valpo’s first time moving the chains thanks to a punter since Niesner ran for a first down on Sept. 11, 2021 at North Dakota State. Niesner also converted a fake punt on Oct. 5, 2019 at Drake.
  • Matthes was the first Valpo punter to successfully complete a pass in over 15 years.

Captain Corner: Valpo has four team captains for the 2023 campaign – redshirt senior linebacker Evan Annis, senior offensive lineman Tyler Eberhert, redshirt junior defensive lineman Sam Hafner and redshirt senior wide receiver Solomon Davis. Annis is a captain for the third straight season, while the others hold the distinction for the first time this year.

Preseason Picks

  • Valpo was picked sixth of 11 in the preseason poll.
  • WR Solomon Davis and TE Evan Jernegan were recognized with Preseason All-PFL honors.
  • Evan Matthes was named to the FCS Punter of the Year Award Watch List.
  • Six Valpo players earned Phil Steele First All-PFL honors – WR Solomon Davis on the first team; TE Evan Jernegan, DL Sam Hafner, DL Kevin Spelman and P Evan Matthes on the second team and LB Evan Annis along with Spelman (as a long snapper) on the third team.

2022 Valpo Football Feats

  • Winning on the road is never easy, but Valpo finished out a successful season in terms of Pioneer Football League games away from Brown Field with the 45-24 win at Marist in Week 11. The team finished 3-1 in league road games, the first time Valpo has won three PFL road games in the same season since the league was founded in 1993.
  • In addition, 2022 marks the first time Valpo has won three league road games in the same season since 1962.
  • Valpo finished with a PFL record of .500 or better for a third consecutive season. This is the program’s first such stretch since 1998-2000. Prior to that, Valpo had not had a league record of .500 or better in three straight years since doing so in four straight seasons from 1961-1964.
  • The program has won four PFL games in the same season for the third straight year and just the fourth time ever. Prior to the Spring 2021 season, Valpo had won four league games in a season just once since 1968, with the one instance coming in 2017.
  • To put the last note in further perspective, Valpo had won four Pioneer Football League games once in 26 seasons prior to Fox’s arrival. Now, the program has reached that threshold for league wins in three of his first four seasons. (Although, in fairness, the program played only four to five league games per year in each of its first 13 PFL seasons.)
  • Fox’s team achieved yet another program first with the Week 11 win at Marist. That marked the program’s first-ever win in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (previously 0-4) and the team’s second win over Marist in any location (previously 1-9, last win in 2017 at Brown Field.)
  • That one was the latest on a growing list of the program’s feats, as earlier in the season Valpo garnered the program’s first win at Morehead State since 2006.
  • Also during the Fox Era, Valpo has achieved its first-ever win at Drake, its first win over Drake in any location since 2003 and its first win over San Diego since 2003.
  • During the 2021 campaign, Valpo prevailed 47-3 in a game at rival Butler, setting a program record for margin of victory in a game against a Division-I opponent. Valpo and Butler are instate foes who play for the Hoosier Helmet rivalry trophy.

2022 PFL Postseason Plaudits

  • Seven members of Valpo’s program earned All-PFL First or Second Team status, while three others received Honorable Mention nods as the league announced its postseason awards on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
  • Redshirt junior wide receiver Solomon Davis, fifth-year senior running back Aaron Dawson, redshirt senior offensive lineman Aaron Byrd and redshirt senior linebacker Ben Hines were named to the All-PFL First Team.
  • Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Sam Hafner, fifth-year senior defensive back Kohlton Sherman and redshirt senior punter Evan Matthes were tabbed to the All-PFL Second Team.
  • Redshirt freshman tight end Evan Jernigan, redshirt junior wide receiver Matt Ross and redshirt freshman defensive lineman and long snapper Kevin Spelman (at both positions) received PFL Honorable Mention.
  • All 10 players recognized were first time All-PFL honorees, with the exception of Byrd, who had earned All-PFL Honorable Mention twice previously but was a first time First Team choice.

2022 Academic Accolades

  • ­Five members of the program were recognized as Academic All-District selections by College Sports Communicators (CSC, formerly known as CoSIDA).
  • Redshirt sophomore linebacker James Doerer (communication), redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Sam Hafner (biology), junior defensive lineman Kurt Kessen (mechanical engineering), redshirt junior wide receiver Matt Ross (digital media) and fifth-year senior defensive back Kohlton Sherman (business) were all recognized.
  • In order to qualify for the honor, an individual must have at least a 3.50 cumulative grade point average, be a starter or important reserve, have reached at least sophomore academic and athletic status and have been at their institution for at least one calendar year.
  • Valpo shattered a program record for PFL Honor Roll members in 2022, placing 64 individuals on the honor roll. The previous program record of 60 was established in 2018 and tied in 2021.

Inside the Staff: Head coach Landon Fox has welcomed several newcomers to his staff for the 2023 campaign.

  • Matthew Symmes (offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach) is in his first season. He has an impressive resume that features Power-5 FBS and NFL coaching experience. Prior to his most recent assignment as senior defensive analyst/assistant linebackers coach at East Carolina University, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff from 2018-2020, serving as quarterbacks coach and offensive assistant. He was the NFL’s youngest QB coach in 2019, and helped the Steelers to the 2020 AFC North Championship. He was also on staff at ECU when the team went to bowl games in 2021 and 2022.
  • David Marquis (defensive coordinator / defensive backs coach) is in his first season at Valpo after previously serving as defensive coordinator at Wittenberg University. He was the linebackers coach at Dayton under then Flyers defensive coordinator Landon Fox from May 2017 to March 2019.
  • RJ Ghilarducci (co-defensive coordinator / recruiting coordinator / linebackers coach) is in his fourth season at Valpo, the staff’s longest-tenured assistant. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator prior to the 2023 campaign and shifted to linebackers coach after previously working with the defensive line.
  • Andrew Prevost (offensive line coach / run game coordinator / assistant head coach) is in his first season at Valpo after a stint on staff at the University of South Dakota since 2016. He helped the Coyotes reach the FCS Playoffs in 2017 and 2021. Prevost was elevated to offensive line coach at South Dakota in 2018.
  • Other offensive coaches include Bryan Parker (wide receivers), Trevor McConnell (running backs), Nate Van Asperen (tight ends) and Cam Burnette (quality control). Other defensive coaches include Jackson Smith (defensive line), Curtis Harper (assistant defensive line) and Owen Chandler (assistant defensive backs).
  • Symmes, Van Asperen and Burnette will be in the press box for the offensive staff, while Prevost, Parker and McConnell will be on the field.
  • Ghilarducci and Chandler will be in the press box for the defensive staff, while Marquis, Smith and Harper will be on the field.
  • The staff also features Nathan Richards (Director of Football Operations), Luke Campbell (Associate Director of Sports Performance), Nicole Mioduski (primary football athletic trainer) and Mason Williams (head equipment management).

Transfer Tracker: While developing homegrown talent remains a key element of Valpo’s program, the team has also found success recruiting via the transfer portal. Defensive back Tyler Geiman (Dubuque), linebacker Mohamed Kamara (Hope), wide receiver Johnny Foley (Lehigh), linebacker Kobey Fitzgerald (UCLA), wide receiver Brandon Jimenez (Albany), wide receiver Brandon Barthel (American River), linebacker Jimmy Pouba (College of the Sequoias), defensive back Kalil Brown (Albion), wide receiver Moise Tezzo (Millsaps), running back Jashon Butler (Arizona), tight end Mike York, offensive lineman Ryan Pauley (Presbyterian), kicker Liam Shepherd (Ball State) and defensive lineman Onye Nwosisi (Miskingum) have all joined the program as transfers.

Roster Rundown: The program has continued to bring in talent from all over the United States. This year’s roster features athletes from nearly half of the 50 states as 22 states are represented. Illinois is the state most represented on Valpo’s roster as 21 players hail from the Land of Lincoln. Other states in double figures are Indiana (17), California (15) and Ohio (14). The program has over doubled its instate talent, featuring 17 Hoosiers this year after having eight a year ago.

Who’s Back: The 2023 Beacons boast five returning starters on offense and seven on defense.

Family Tree

  • LB Evan Annis has a pair of older brothers who played college football. Brett played at Division-III Capital, while Kyle played at – and we’re going to whisper this one – Butler.
  • Wide receiver Cam Livingston is a third-generation Division-I football player. His grandfather Brian played at Ohio State and his father Robert played for – here we go again – Butler.
  • QB Michael Appel Jr. has two family members who played football at Morehead State University – father Mike (1993-1997) and uncle Jim (1989-1992)… The Morehead State annual academic award is named after his father and uncle as both were Academic All-Americans at MSU.
  • Kicker Patrick Oliva’s cousin is Tad Boyle, the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Colorado.
  • WR EJ Locke’s father Eric Locke Sr. played football at Illinois State.
  • LB Hayden Bedell’s cousin is former Valpo offensive lineman Drew Parrish.
  • DB Etwood Williams’ father Arthur played football at Illinois State from 1991-1993, cousin Rodney Peete played at USC and went on to a long NFL career from 1989-2004. His cousin Shawn Buchanon played baseball at Nebraska and went on to a five-year minor league career in the Chicago White Sox organization.
  • DL Amar Elmore’s cousin Markus Wheaton played college football at Oregon State and went on to play in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-2016), Chicago Bears (2017) and Philadelphia Eagles (2018).
  • TE Jalen Jones’ uncle Derrick Coleman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. Coleman went on to play in the NBA from 1990-2005, was the 1991 NBA Rookie of the Year and was an NBA All-Star in 1994.
  • DL Sam Hafner’s great aunt Louise Erickson played professional women’s basketball for three years (Racine Belles one year, Rockford Peaches two years).
  • DL Logan Chastain’s father Dan was a catcher at the University of Portland, was drafted out of high school by the Montreal Expos in the 57th round of the 1991 MLB Draft and played minor league baseball in the Marlins organization.
  • QB Caron Tyler’s father is rapper Aaron Tyler, better known by stage name MC Eiht.
  • DB Mark Johnson’s father Mark played football at Vanderbilt form 1986-91.
  • OL James Owsley’s father Kent played football at Iowa from 1986-1990.
  • WR Bennett McCormick’s paternal grandfather Thomas McCormick signed to play football at Wisconsin when they had a freshman football team before he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, but instead left to join the Korean War.

Did You Know? #BeaconBits

  • Quarterback Jeffrey Jackson was a 2010 Jiu-Jitsu World Champion.
  • Linebacker Evan Annis played lacrosse for 10 years.
  • Both of WR Solomon Davis’ parents retired from the Navy.
  • DB Ousmane Dabo is ambidextrous, as is OL James Owsley.
  • DB Austin Chilton lives a few minutes from Walt Disney World and can hear the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from his neighborhood every night. His career goal is to design and build rollercoasters for Disney World.
  • DB Andy Cole was adopted from Ethiopia, Africa when he was 8 years old.
  • LB Justin Jurmu’s oldest brother Jordan was a national finalist in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship in 2015 at Augusta National.
  • DL Alex Goworowski has never seen Star Wars, Rocky, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones or Caddyshack.
  • DL Dawson Rye had a pet aquatic frog for over 15 years.
  • TE Evan Jernegan has built out the biggest Lego set, the UCS Millennium Falcon.
  • DL Kurt Kessen was his high school’s valedictorian.
  • K Ryan Hawk is a certified advanced scuba diver.
  • NFL QB Colt McCoy came to DB Johnny Bebie’s house and drove him and his brothers to school in first grade.
  • OL Noah Kline’s extended family is so large that at one point he had a relative living in every state except Maine.

Player-by-Player Quick Hits – Projected Offensive Starters

*Based on two-deep, starters subject to change

  • WR-x #10 Solomon Davis, R-Sr. – Ranked among the PFL leaders in receptions per game (3.48, ninth), receiving yards per game (62.33, fifth), yards per catch (17.4, fifth), total receptions (43, fifth) and total receiving yards (748, second) last season after he had just one career catch in his first three seasons on Valpo’s campus… Preseason All-PFL choice, Phil Steele Preseason All-PFL First Team... Hauled in a 53-yard catch in Week 1 at Youngstown State... Had his first TD catch of the season and the fifth of his collegiate career in Week 2 at Indiana State… Had the most receptions (10) and receiving yards (175) by a Valpo player since 2014 in the Week 4 game vs. Marist... Hauled in a 33-yard score from Jeffrey Jackson, his fourth receiving TD of the season, in Week 6 at Drake... Had seven catches for 94 yards in Week 7 vs. Morehead State... Had Valpo’s longest offensive play of the season to date with a 70-yard touchdown run on Oct. 28 at Butler.
  • LT #55 Brett Gray, R-So. – Played in 11 games and made eight starts in 2022.
  • C #62 Carter Woody, Sr. – Started all 12 games in 2022.
  • QB #2 Rowan Keefe, R-Fr. – Entered the Oct. 21 game at Davidson in the second half and threw three touchdowns passes against no interceptions while completing nine of his 12 passes for 187 yards in his collegiate debut... Became the first Valpo quarterback since 2013 to complete a pair of 60+ yard passes in the same game during his dazzling debut... Went 11-of-19 for 172 yards in his first collegiate start on Oct. 28 at Butler.
  • LG #50 Nico Paic, R-Fr. – Was converted from offensive line to defensive line prior to the 2023 campaign.
  • RG #65 Mason Smith, R-Fr. – Saw action in two games in 2022 including the season finale at New Mexico State.
  • RT #78 Keith Szczepanski, R-Jr. – Played in all 12 games and made four starts in 2022.
  • TE #89 Jake Vickers, R-Jr. – Made seven catches for 105 yards and one touchdown while playing in nine games in 2022... Hauled in his third career TD catch and first of the season on Oct. 14 vs. Morehead State, a six yarder from Jeffrey Jackson.
  • WR-z #8 Brandon Jimenez, Jr. – Joined the program prior to the 2023 season as a transfer from Albany... Caught a 68-yard pass from Rowan Keefe for Valpo’s longest play of the season from scrimmage to date on Oct. 21 at Davidson... Had his second receiving TD of the season in the game against the Wildcats.
  • RB #34 Ryan Mann, R-So. – Played in all 12 games in 2022 after transferring from Northern Illinois... Scored his first career touchdown, plunging in from two yards out, in Week 1 at Youngstown State... Had a career-high 102 rushing yards on 12 carries on Oct. 14 vs. Morehead State, becoming the first Beacon to rush for 100 yards this season. He accounted for two of the team’s three scores, a 21-yard catch and a 23-yard run. The receiving score was the first of his collegiate career.
  • Slot #17 Moise Tezzo, Sr. – In his first season at Valpo after transferring from Millsaps College, where he was a two-time first team all-conference performer... Led the SAA in all-purpose yards in 2021... Hauled in his first touchdown pass in a Valpo uniform on a 15-yard toss from Jeffrey Jackson on Oct. 7, 2023 at Drake.

Player-by-Player Quick Hits – Projected Defensive Starters

*Based two-deep, starters subject to change

  • DE #90 Sam Hafner, R-Jr. – Named to the All-PFL Second Team, Academic All-PFL First Team and CSC Academic All-District Team in 2022... Played in all 12 games... Had 65 tackles (26 solos), nine TFL, five sacks, three forced fumbles and three QB hurries... Ranked ninth in the PFL in sacks per game at 0.42... Tied for the PFL lead with three forced fumbles... Had a season-high 10 tackles in the Sept. 3, 2022 opener vs. Indiana Wesleyan... Shared the team lead with eight tackles in Week 2 of 2023 at Indiana Wesleyan including a pair of TFLs... Led the team with six tackles while also notching a fumble recovery in Week 6 of 2023 at Drake.
  • DT #93 Kurt Kessen, Sr. – Named to the Academic All-PFL First Team, CSC Academic All-District Team and was the team’s Scholar-Athlete Award winner last season... Played in all 12 games, totaling 46 tackles (12 solos), a sack, eight QB hurries, three pass breakups and one blocked kick... Accrued a season-high 10 tackles on Sept. 24, 2022 vs. San Diego... Blocked an extra point on Oct. 15, 2022 vs. Butler… Blocked a PAT in Week 4 of 2023 vs. Marist to keep the score tied in the final minute and send the game to overtime.
  • NG #96 Logan Chastain, So. – Named the team’s Newcomer of the Year last season... Played in all 12 games in 2022 and had 23 tackles (eight solos), 2.5 TFL, two sacks and three QB hurries... Had two sacks on Oct. 8 at Presbyterian.
  • DE #91 Kevin Spelman, R-So. – Was the only PFL player and one of 25 players nationally named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List for the honor presented annually to the nation’s top FCS freshman last season… Tied for fifth in the PFL in sacks and was one of nine players in the league with multiple forced fumbles in 2022... Ranked fourth in the nation in sacks by a freshman in 2022... Earned All-PFL Honorable Mention at both defensive line and long snapper last season.
  • LB (W) #7 Kobey Fitzgerald, 6th – Joined the program this season as a graduate transfer from UCLA, where he played from 2020-2022 after starting his collegiate career at Riverside City College.
  • LB (W) #40 Wade Abrams, R-Fr. – Played in three games during his first year on campus in 2022, retaining four seasons of eligibility... Returned after being sidelined with an injury for several games on Oct. 28 and led the team with a career-high 13 tackles, the highest output by a Beacon in any game this season.
  • LB (M) #2 Evan Annis, R-Sr. – Earned all PFL honors in Spring 2021 (Second Team) and Fall 2021 (HM) but missed all of last season with a knee injury... Tied for the team lead in tackles with eight in Week 2 at Indiana Wesleyan... Shared the team lead in tackles on Oct. 21 at Davidson, joining Mohamed Kamara as the first Valpo players with a 10-tackle game this season.
  • LB (nickel) #3 Mohamed Kamara, Sr. – Transfer from Hope College, where he was MIAA all-conference... Shared the team lead in tackles on Oct. 21 at Davidson, joining Evan Annis as the first Valpo players with a 10-tackle game this season.
  • DB #5 Max Franco, Jr. – Played in all 12 games and totaled 42 tackles (20 solos last season) with 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and six pass breakups... Had an interception and a 34-yard return on Nov. 12, 2022 at Marist.
  • S #20 Austin Chilton, R-Sr. – Had 28 tackles (16 solos) while seeing action in all 12 games last season.
  • S #26 Colin Graves, Jr. – Had 61 tackles (23 solos), four TFL, 0.5 sacks, an interception and four pass breakups last season... Paced the team with eight tackles in Week 1 at Youngstown State... Posted a career-high 10 tackles on Oct. 28 at Butler.
  • CB #1 Tyler Geiman, R-Sr. – Transfer who was a Division-III All-American at Dubuque... Made his first interception in a Valpo uniform on Oct. 14 vs. Morehead State.

Specialist Quick Hits – Projected Starters

  • P #11 Evan Matthes, 6th – Ranked second in the league in punting average at 41.38 yards per punt last season... Named to the All-PFL Second Team, the Phil Steele All-PFL Second Team and was tabbed the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2022... Booted a 70-yard punt in Week 1 at Youngstown State, the second-longest punt in the FCS nation that week... Uncorked a 65-yard punt while averaging 39.8 yard per attempt on eight tries in Week 6 at Drake... Completed a 23-yard pass for a first down on a fake punt in the Oct. 14 game vs. Morehead State. Also booted a 67-yard punt in that contest, his third this season of 65+.
  • K #99 Ryan Hawk, R-So. – Did not see game action last year… Played in two games in Fall 2021... Made a 47-yard field goal in Week 2 at Indiana Wesleyan on the first attempt of his collegiate career.
  • RS #29 Jashon Butler, R-Sr. – Arizona transfer... Had a big day in the kick return game in Week 5 vs. Southwest Minnesota State, averaging 60.5 yards per return with a long of 61... Had a 68-yard kickoff return at Davidson on Oct. 21, his third of 60+ yards this season.