Captains Talk About Picture Day
DAYTON, Ohio – Even though the University of Dayton’s annual Football Media Day signals the end of double days for the Flyer football team, UD head coach Rick Chamberlin and his team are still in “camp mode.” While UD does not open the season until September 4, the team will transition into its weekly in-season routine starting Monday, August 23.
With students back on campus, the Flyer freshmen will participate in the University’s New Student Orientation Program on Monday and Tuesday, with classes beginning on Wednesday, August 25.
“To us, camp isn’t over even though school begins. We still have a lot to work on,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “We really don’t get into our game prep mode until next Saturday, so that’s why we will be working with our guys to make sure their techniques are at their best heading into the season.”
“We felt we’ve gotten through camp so far in good shape health-wise. We’ve been pleased. Our offense, with all the veterans we have back is getting into a pretty good rhythm. Defensively we have a lot of new faces in there, so we are still feeling things out and putting the pressure on some young men to see who is going to step up and take that starting role.”
At the end of the Media Day festivities, which included a cookout for the team provided by the Flyers Club, Chamberlin introduced a special guest to the team. Cincinnati Bengal head coach Marvin Lewis addressed the Flyers shortly after his Bengals arrived at Welcome Stadium for a public showcase practice for their fans in the Dayton area. Noting that teams that win championships the year before have to start over, he spoke to the Flyers about taking the confidence from a championship season and putting it to use this year.
Chamberlin is back for his third season as UD’s head coach and returns 15 starters (10 offense, three defense, two specialists), from the team that went 9-2 and won a share of the 2009 Pioneer Football League title.
Among the returnees are defensive back James Vercammen and quarterback Steve Valentino. Vercammen, who plays the hybrid safety/linebacker position known as “Flyer”, is a preseason All-American and a member of the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. Valentino is one of 20 players on the Walter Payton Award Watch List.
The Buchanan Award goes to the top defensive player in FCS football, while the Payton Award goes to the top player. Both honors are awarded by The Sports Network. This is the first time in program history a UD player appears on either watch list.
Vercammen was third in FCS football last season in tackles with a PFL record 134. Valentino was the 2009 Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Year and is the only player in league history to be named First Team All-PFL at two different positions (WR in 2008, QB in 2009).
Chamberlin has guided UD to nine wins in his first two seasons, going 9-3 in 2008 and 9-2 last year.
The Flyers will be led by captains Tyler Friedrich, Joe Ries and Valentino. All three are redshirt seniors, members of two PFL championship teams in their careers and were named First Team All-PFL in 2009.
Friedrich is an offensive guard from Dublin, Ohio. A versatile player who has also played tight end and tackle in his career, Friedrich started all 11 games last season. Ries is a linebacker from Cincinnati. As a junior, he was second on the team in tackles (70), and led in interceptions (3) and fumbles forced (2). Valentino is just the fourth two-time captain in school history. The Solon, Ohio native moved from wideout to quarterback after the season opener, and led the Flyers to their 10th PFL title in 15 years.
Dayton will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 4 at home against Robert Morris.
Tickets Now On Sale...Season tickets are only $60 for adults. Single game tickets are $10.00 for adults. In addition, children eighth grade and younger who sign up for the Future Flyer Kids Club will receive free tickets to all UD football games. Call 229-4433 for info on group rates.
Good News Worth Repeating...The Flyers enter the season with the second best winning percentage (.791, 87-23) in FCS football since 2000 AND have produced the most football Academic All-Americans (19) at any level of competition in the decade.
More Good News...The Flyers are predicted to win their 11th Pioneer Football League championship in the annual PFL coaches’ poll that was announced on August 9. Dayton received 76 points while Butler was picked to finish second, receiving two first-place votes, with 69 points. Jacksonville received the four remaining first-place votes and finished third in the preseason poll with 68 points. Behind those three teams were Drake (54 points), San Diego (52), Marist (45), Davidson (30), Campbell (25), Morehead State (22) and Valparaiso (9). Nine points were awarded for a first-place vote, with one point less for each succeeding place. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Dayton has won the PFL two of the last three years, tying Butler in 2009.
All-PFL Performers Return...Dayton returns five 2009 First Team All-PFL performers – OG Tyler Friedrich, LB Joe Ries, QB Steve Valentino, F James Vercammen and DE Brandon Wingeier. In addition, UD also returns WR Justin Watkins (second team) and C Justin Griffis (honorable mention).
Tino Tales...Senior quarterback Steve Valentino is the first Dayton player to be named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List. The Payton Award goes to the player of the year in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision and is presented by the Sports Network. A First Team All-PFL wide receiver in 2008, he became Dayton's starting quarterback in the 2009 season's second week due to injuries. He promptly led the Flyers to seven consecutive victories and finished the regular season with a league-best 281.6 yards total offense and led all quarterbacks in rushing, averaging 65.6 yards per game to rank fourth among the league's rushers. Valentino also ranked second among the league's quarterbacks in passing yardage (216.0 ypg) and pass efficiency rating (139.8). He completed 170 of 286 passes (.590). Just the fourth Flyer to be a two-time football captain, he is the first position player in PFL history to be named first-team all-league at two different positions.
All-Americammen...Senior James Vercammen was named to the Sports Network’s Preseason All-America First Team in July. Playing the hybrid safety/linebacker position know as “Flyer,” he is the only player from the PFL on the first team and one of four from the league on any of the Sports Network preseason teams. Vercammen is also the only player from the PFL who has been named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The Buchanan Award is given to FCS football’s best defensive player. Vercammen is the first UD player to be named to the Buchanan Watch List. As a redshirt junior, Vercammen’s 134 tackles set a new single-season record in the PFL and was third in the FCS. His season earned him a spot on the Sports Network’s Football Championship Subdivision All-American Second Team and All-PFL First Team. He posted eight games of double-digit tackles, including a 19-tackle, 1.5 tackle for loss and one pass breakup game against conference foe San Diego.
Quality Vs. Quantity...Dayton only returns three starters from last year’s defense that led the PFL in scoring defense (13.6) and total defense (242.5), but they were the three most productive Dayton players on that side of the ball. Flyer James Vercammen led the PFL and was third in the nation in tackles (134). Linebacker Joe Ries was second on the team in tackles (70), and led in interceptions (3) and fumbles forced (2). Defensive end Brandon Wingeier led the team in sacks (6.5) and fumbles recovered (2).
Speaking Of Wingeier...Brandon Wingeier is a two-time ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-American. A mechanical engineering major, he has started 23 straight games for the Flyers. Last year he led UD in sacks (6.5). He also had 39 tackles, 11.5 hits in the backfield, two fumbles recovered, two QB hurries, a fumble forced, a pass batted down and an interception he returned 57 yards for a touchdown.
Quality And Quantity...UD returns 10 of 11 starters on offense (and that does not include center Blake Saul who started all 12 games in 2008 and was limited with a back injury in 2009). Every player who scored is back, as are 13 of the players who caught a pass, and the team’s top four rushers.
The Good Hands People...Last season’s top receiver, Justin Watkins, returns after finishing second in the PFL in receiving yardage per game (84.3) and first in yards per catch (19.7). Watkins also led UD in receptions (47) and TD catches (7). Five returnees had at least 10 passes in 2009 – Nick Collins (27 for 358 yards), Justin Millio (22 for 203), Anthony Papp (19 for 213) and Luke Bellman (14 for 279). Although he was hurt last year, Millio caught a UD single-season record 67 passes in 2008.