The Valparaiso University football team was well represented as the Pioneer Football League unveiled its Spring 2021 Preseason All-PFL Watch List on Tuesday as a Valpo quintet received recognition.
Wide receiver Deuce Larose (Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / Cardinal Gibbons), punter Ben Niesner (Black Diamond, Wash. / Tahoma [Portland State]), linebacker Jaxon Peifer (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community), defensive end Trejuan Purty (Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville [East Tennessee State]) and wide receiver Ollie Reese (Franklin, Tenn. / Battle Ground) were all featured on the watch list.
All five were also members of the Phil Steele Preseason All-Conference team that was released in July prior to the anticipated fall season.
Reese was tabbed All-PFL Honorable Mention in 2019 after leading the team in receptions (34), receiving yards (545) and receiving touchdowns (five) while averaging 16.0 yards per catch and 45.4 receiving yards per game. He finished 10th in the PFL in receiving yards per outing and sixth in all-purpose yards at 110.7. The Tennessee native finished seventh in the league in kick return average at 22.0.
Reese had the most all-purpose yards by a Valpo player – both total (1,328) and per game (110.7) – since 2008. He jumped from four receptions for 35 yards as a freshman in 2018 to 34 receptions for 545 yards as a sophomore in 2019.
Also a 2019 All-PFL Honorable Mention, Purty played in 12 games in his first season on campus after joining the program as a transfer. He finished tied for sixth in the PFL with 3.5 sacks and had six tackles for loss totaling 31 yards. Purty snagged the first fumble recovery of his Valpo career on Oct. 26 vs. Stetson and had a season-high five tackles on Nov. 2 at Davidson.
Peifer saw action in 11 of the team’s 12 games a year ago and registered 62 tackles (31 solos) and 3.0 tackles for loss. The 2019 All-PFL Honorable Mention choice forced a pair of fumbles while also receiving credit for two QB hurries and a pass breakup. Peifer tied for fourth in the PFL in forced fumbles per game and tied for 23rd in the league at 5.6 tackles per contest. After having seven tackles over eight games during his freshman season, he exceeded his 2018 season total with 10 in the season opener at Eastern Kentucky and later equaled that season high on Nov. 9 vs. Morehead State.
Niesner also garnered All-PFL Honorable Mention after a 2019 campaign that saw him average 39.4 yards per punt over 65 punts, the best mark by a Valpo punter with at least 20 attempts since Greg Wood’s 40.9 yard average in 2012. He ranked fifth in the league in yards per punt and knocked 12 punts inside the 20 while booting six punts 50 yards or longer.
Larose was named 2019 All-PFL Honorable Mention after recording 30 catches for 484 yards, averaging 16.1 yards per catch and 48.4 yards per game. He hauled in three touchdown passes on his way to ranking 10th in the PFL in receptions per game at 3.0 and ninth in receiving yards per game at 48.4. He finished the season on a high note, accruing 90 or more receiving yards in each of his final three games including a career-high 112 on Nov. 9 vs. Morehead State
Skyler Spetter, Offensive Lineman
Dreylan Hines, Defensive Back
Tyler Phelps, Quarterback
Jalen Staples, Wide Receiver
Eli Turner Jr., All-Purpose Back
Ian Corwin, Quarterback
Grant Gossling, Fullback
Ryan Kriceri, Long Snapper
Danny Morales, Defensive Back
Alex Rogers, Defensive Back
Andrew Foster, Punter (2) & Placekicker
Beau Griego, Linebacker
Vaughn Taylor, Defensive Lineman (1)
Colby Campbell, Defensive Back
Keith Pearson, Wide Receiver
Kyle Bilchik, Linebacker
Nolan Bisogno, Offensive Lineman
Brandon Eickert, Punter
Cassius Johnson, Defensive Back (2)
Kama Kamaka, Linebacker (1)
Luke LaCilento, Offensive Lineman (2)
Hunter Nichols, Defensive Back
Terrence Smith, Running Back
Alex Spadone, Wide Receiver
DJ Wright, Offensive Lineman (1)
Brad Alexander, Offensive Lineman
Billy Corte, Offensive Lineman
Antonio Derry, Offensive Lineman
Jaylon Johnson, Return Specialist (2)
Jaylen Leary, All-Purpose Back (2)
Ferman Reid, Defensive Lineman (2)
Hunter Stephens, Linebacker
Deuce Larose, Wide Receiver
Ben Niesner, Placekicker
Jaxon Peifer, Linebacker
Trejuan Purty, Defensive End
Ollie Reese, Wide Receiver