November 18, 20231st2nd3rd4thFinal
St. Thomas (MN)370616
1st Quarter
STTFG12:39Shagen 29 Yd
2nd Quarter
STTTD05:53Wagner 30 Yd Pass From Powell (Shagen kick)
3rd Quarter
VALPOTD03:39DAVIS 22 Yd Pass From KEEFE (HAWK kick)
4th Quarter
STTTD14:56Reed 9 Yd Run (Shagen missed kick)
Stats at a GlanceVALPOSTT
1st Downs1716
3rd Down Conversions3-124-13
4th Down Conversions1-30-1
Passing (Comp-Att)154 (14-26) 179 (9-18)
Rushing (Att)82 (31) 117 (38)
Total Yards236296
Fumbles Lost10
Valpo Football Seeks Program's Longest Winning Streak in 20 Years on Saturday
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Valpo Football Seeks Program's Longest Winning Streak in 20 Years on Saturday
Jeffery Vercher recovered a blocked kick and put together a long return on Saturday vs. Stetson.

Valparaiso (3-7, 2-5 PFL)
at St. Thomas (7-3, 6-1 PFL)

Game #11 Saturday, Nov. 18, 1 p.m. CT
O’Shaughnessy Stadium (5,025) – St. Paul, Minn.

This Week in Valpo Football: The Valparaiso University football team will close out the 2023 season on Saturday afternoon with a visit to St. Paul, Minn. to take on defending Pioneer Football League champion and 2023 preseason favorite St. Thomas. The Beacons hope to play the role of spoiler as the Tommies can clinch a share of the 2023 PFL crown with a win and a Drake loss. Valpo has an opportunity to end a season on a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2000 and possess its first three-game winning streak at any point in the calendar since 2003.

Previously: Special teams played a big role in Valpo’s 23-20 overtime victory vs. Stetson on Senior Day at Brown Field, as Max Samuel blocked a pair of punts and Ryan Hawk connected on a 34-yard field goal in overtime that proved to be the difference. Samuel’s first blocked punt was recovered by Micah Mackay in the end zone for a touchdown, while his second also led to points as Jeffery Vercher recovered and ran it 51 yards to the Stetson six-yard line before Jeffrey Jackson punched it in from a yard out. Evan Annis had a huge sack in overtime on the game’s penultimate play to highlight a nine-tackle performance that featured three tackles for loss and two sacks.  

Series Notes: This will be the third all-time meeting between Valpo and one of the Pioneer Football League’s newest teams, former Division-III powerhouse St. Thomas. Valpo very much held its own during its last trip to Minnesota, falling 20-13 on Oct. 9, 2021. The Beacons lost to a nationally-ranked St. Thomas squad 34-7 on Nov. 5 of last season.  

Following the Beacons: Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Midco Sports Plus, a subscription-based platform. The hometown radio call with Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst) 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 (17-34) 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.

As Easy as “One, Two, Three”?

  • After beating Dayton (21-7 on Nov. 4) and Stetson (23-20 in overtime on Nov. 11) over the last two weeks, Valpo will look to extend its winning streak to three on Saturday at St. Thomas.
  • This would be Valpo’s longest winning streak since capturing three in a row in 2003 at Dayton (W 33-28), vs. San Diego (W 41-34) and vs. Drake (W 51-45 OT).
  • This would mark the first time Valpo won each of its final three games of a season since 2000 – Oct. 28 at San Diego (W 32-10), Nov. 4 vs. Dayton (W 16-15) and Nov. 11 vs. Aurora (W 23-10).
  • This would mark the first time ever that Valpo has won each of its final three PFL games. The league was founded in 1993.
  • The last time Valpo won each of its final three league games of a season was 1971, wins over Evansville, DePauw and Butler in Indiana Collegiate Conference play.
  • Valpo will look to end a fall season with a win for the first time since 2017. The team did close out the Spring 2021 campaign in victorious fashion.
  • The last time Valpo finished the season with a road win was 2005 at Aurora.

Block Party

  • Freshman Max Samuel blocked two punts in the Nov. 11 win over Stetson, the first of which was recovered in the end zone by Micah Mackay for a touchdown and the second of which was returned 51 yards to the Stetson six-yard line and eventually resulted in a touchdown.
  • Mackay received credit for a punt return touchdown, Valpo’s first since Jamari Booker in 2019. He was the 26th player in program history with a punt return TD.
  • Samuel became only the eighth player in the FCS nation to block multiple kicks in a single game this season and the 11th in all of Division-I football (FCS and FBS). Owen Goss of Colgate is the only player nationally to block three kicks in one game this season.
  • Samuel has three blocked kicks this season, including two on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson. He is now tied for fifth in program history for blocked kicks in a single season, joining Brett Bittner (Fall 2021) and Adam Rundh (2008).
  • For his efforts in the win over the Hatters, Samuel was named the Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player of the Week, becoming the second straight Beacon to earn the award. Evan Matthes did so the previous week for his punting efforts in the win over Dayton.

Record Book Watch

  • Entering Saturday’s season finale at St. Thomas, Evan Matthes owns a punting average of 42.9. That would rank fourth in program history for single-season punting average behind Greg Wood (2010; 43.6), Ben Niesner (Spring 2021; 43.6) and Niesner again (Fall 2021, 43.2).
  • Valpo has five blocked kicks as a team, one more would tie for fourth in program history for single-season blocked kicks.
  • Solomon Davis has 1,333 career receiving yards. Despite essentially playing only two seasons, he will not finish far outside of the program’s single-season top 10 for career receiving yards. The threshold to enter the top 10 would be 1,580 with all of the top 10 three- and four-year players.

Fox on Valpo’s Wins List

  • The Nov. 4 game vs. Dayton was Landon Fox’s 50th as Valpo head coach.
  • The win over the Flyers allowed 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.
  • The win allowed 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.
  • The win over the Flyers also helped Fox surpass Stacy Adams on Valpo’s all-time wins list. The following week vs. Stetson, he moved into a tie for seventh in program history with Cecchini with 17 wins at Valpo.

Among PFL and National Leaders

  • Tyler Geiman leads the nation in passes defended per game at 1.8. He is tied with Eastern Illinois’ Russell Dandy with 18 passes defended apiece. Both Dandy and Geiman have 17 pass breakups and one interception.
  • Sam Hafner ranks second in the nation for total tackles by a defensive lineman. Eric O’Neill of LIU leads the FCS nation in tackles by a defensive lineman with 71, while Hafner is second with 62.
  • Valpo leads the league and ranks 11th nationally in kickoff return average at 23.50.
  • Jashon Butler ranks second in the PFL and seventh nationally in combined kickoff return yards at 615. He is first in the league and fourth in the nation in kickoff return average at 30.8.
  • Evan Matthes leads the league and ranks 19th in the nation in punting average at 42.9.
  • Valpo is tied for second nationally in blocked kicks with five, one of six teams in the country with five or more blocked kicks.
  • Valpo is allowing just 320.8 yards per game, ranking second in the PFL and 23rd nationally in total defense.

Scouting the Tommies

  • Coming off a 20-14 win at San Diego last week after downing Marist 49-14 on Oct. 28 in their most recent home game.
  • Can clinch a share of the PFL title with a win and a Drake loss.
  • Are not eligible for the PFL’s automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs as they are completing the transition cycle from Division-II.
  • Preseason favorites to win the PFL.

Going Back-to-Back

  • The win on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson has allowed Valpo to possess back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
  • Before that, Valpo’s last set of consecutive wins were Sept. 24, 2022 vs. San Diego (W 28-21) and Oct. 8, 2022 at Presbyterian (W 41-21).
  • This marked unique scheduling as Valpo played back-to-back PFL home games. This was the first time Valpo played a league game at home in consecutive weeks since March 20, 2021 vs. Drake and March 27, 2021 vs. Butler. This was the first time that had occurred during a normal fall season since October 2015, when the Brown & Gold hosted these same opponents in consecutive weeks, Dayton on Oct. 17 and Stetson on Oct. 24.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 11: Valpo 23, Stetson 20

  • Valpo overcame a minus-four disparity in the turnover margin to win the game. The Beacons threw three interceptions and muffed a punt, while Stetson did not turn it over.
  • This marked Valpo’s second OT game of the season and sixth one-score game. Four of the five home games this season were decided by one score including a pair that went to overtime. This is the first time on record that Valpo has played multiple overtime games in the same season.
  • Ryan Mann ran for a personal-best 121 yards on 25 carries. He notched his third career touchdown run, all this season.
  • Jeffrey Jackson had his first rushing touchdown of the season and the second of his career.
  • Valpo notched 10 tackles for loss and five sacks, both season highs.
  • The defense had nine pass breakups, including three by Tyler Geiman.
  • Valpo’s stellar rushing defense was evident yet again. The Hatters could muster up only 60 yards on the ground, the seventh time in 10 games that Valpo’s rushing defense has kept the opposition under 80 rushing yards.
  • Colin Graves and Austin Chilton had 10 tackles apiece to lead the team. Chilton boasted seven solos. Evan Annis contributed nine tackles including three tackles for loss and two sacks.

Defense Dominates Dayton

  • Valpo held Dayton to 175 yards of total offense on Nov. 4, the fewest yards gained by a Valpo opponent since Oct. 11, 2014, when Missouri Baptist was limited to 122 yards.
  • The game against the Flyers marked the fewest yards permitted by Valpo in a Pioneer Football League game since Nov. 15, 2018 at Campbell, when the Fighting Camels mustered up just 158 yards of total offense.
  • Dayton was held to 68 yards on the ground, the sixth time in nine games this season that a stingy Valpo rushing defense has kept the opposition under 80 rushing yards.
  • Valpo’s three best performances of the season in terms of passing defense have come over the last three weeks. Valpo allowed over 150 passing yards in each of the first six games of the season but has permitted under that threshold in each of the last three weeks including 107 on Nov. 4 vs. Dayton.
  • The Valpo defense has put together a first-half shutout in back-to-back weeks, holding Butler off the scoreboard in the first half on Oct. 28 before doing the same to Dayton on Nov. 4. The Valpo defense has enjoyed a shutout half on three occasions this season, with the first of those coming in the first half on Sept. 30 vs. Southwest Minnesota State.
  • The seven points were the fewest allowed by Valpo since a 47-3 win at Butler on Nov. 13, 2021.

Soaring Past the Flyers

  • Two of Valpo’s five all-time wins over Dayton have come in the last three seasons. Valpo head coach Landon Fox is 2-2 against Dayton, where he served as defensive coordinator before his arrival at Valpo.
  • Before Fox, Valpo was 2-25 all-time against Dayton in a series that started in 1988. Fox owns as many wins over the Flyers in just four meetings as every coach in Valpo history before his arrival had against that opponent in 27 all-time matchups.
  • The Brown Field fans have become used to cliffhangers as the 21-7 Valpo victory over Dayton on Nov. 4 represented the team’s most lopsided home win since its previous home faceoff with the Flyers on Oct. 23, 2021, a 45-28 triumph.
  • Valpo’s two victories over Dayton during the Fox Era have come by margins of 17 and 14. Prior to Fox, the margins for Valpo’s two wins over Dayton were one (2017) and five (2003).
  • Before Fox took over Valpo’s program in 2019, the team was 1-14 in its last 15 matchups with Dayton with an average margin of defeat of 32.9 points per game in those losses.

Matthes Receives Recognition

  • Punter Evan Matthes became the first Valpo player this season to receive a Pioneer Football League honor when he was tabbed PFL Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 5 for his performance in the Nov. 4 win over Dayton.
  • Matthes played a key role in the field position battle, pinning Dayton deep on a regular basis in the 21-7 win over the Flyers.
  • He averaged 41.7 yards per punt on seven attempts with a long of 53, pinning five of his seven boots inside the 20 including three inside the 10 and two inside the 5.
  • Matthes, who leads the PFL and ranks 18th nationally in punting average at 42.8, would rank fourth in single-season program history in punting average if the season ended today.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 4: Valpo 21, Dayton 7

  • Ryan Mann ran for 68 yards on 11 carries, all in the second half after his comeback from the back trouble that plagued him during warmups and throughout the first half. He also had two catches for 34 yards.
  • Solomon Davis hauled in a team-high four catches for 25 yards including a touchdown, his fifth receiving TD (sixth total TD) this season and his ninth career receiving score (10th total).
  • Rowan Keefe went 15-of-21 through the air for 126 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • Jake Vickers’ TD catch was his second this season and the fourth of his career.
  • Jashon Butler ran for his first touchdown in a Valpo uniform.
  • Evan Annis achieved a team-high 10 tackles, while Sam Hafner and Austin Chilton chipped in eight apiece. Hafner had a big day that featured two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
  • Max Samuel picked up his first career fumble recovery and his second big play of the season to go along with a blocked kick.

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... Had a highlight-real touchdown catch in the Nov. 4 win over Dayton.
  • 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... Had his fourth career TD catch and second of the season on Nov. 4 vs. Dayton.
  • 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... After missing the first half with a back injury, returned to action for the second half on Nov. 4 vs. Dayton and ran for 68 yards on 11 carries while making two catches for 34 yards... Ran for a personal-best 121 yards on 25 carries on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson while notching his third career touchdown run, all this season.
  • 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... Had two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks as part of an eight-tackle output in the Nov. 4 win over Dayton.
  • 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... Achieved a team-high 10 tackles on Nov. 4 vs. Dayton... Had two sacks including one on the game’s penultimate play to highlight a nine-tackle performance that featured three tackles for loss and two sacks on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson.
  • 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... Shared the team lead with 10 tackles on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson.
  • 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... Shared the team lead with 10 tackles on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson.
  • 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... Had three pass breakups on Nov. 11 vs. Stetson.

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+... Named the PFL Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 5 following his performance in the Nov. 4 win over Dayton which featured a punting average of 41.7 as he pinned the Flyers inside the 20 on five of his seven attempts.
  • 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... Kicked a go-ahead, 34-yard field goal in overtime that stood as the difference in the 23-20 win over Stetson on Nov. 11.
  • 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... Had his first rushing touchdown in a Valpo uniform in the Nov. 4 win over Dayton.