DAYTON, Ohio – University of Dayton head coach Rick Chamberlin and his staff will welcome 110 players back to campus Monday, August 9 as the Flyers prepare for the 2010 football season. 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 Reis 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.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Flyers are continuing “Tuesday Night Lights”, the free program where pee wee football teams take the field for a practice with the University of Dayton football players. For nine Tuesdays in September and October, teams that sign up in advance will get a pre practice talk from Chamberlin, take the field to warm up with the UD football team, and then observe practice until their evening is over at 8:15 p.m.
Dayton will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 4 at home against Robert Morris. Game time will be 1:00 p.m. ET. The Flyers’ PFL opener will be Saturday, Sept. 18 at home against Morehead State. Other Pioneer Football League teams visiting Welcome Stadium in 2010 are Valparaiso (Oct. 2), Campbell (Oct. 23) and Drake (Nov. 6). Dayton will also play a rare Saturday night home game when Central State visits Welcome Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25 for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff.
After reporting, attending meetings, getting their equipment and undergoing physicals Monday, the team will undergo fitness tests Tuesday morning. First practice for the 2010 Flyers will be Tuesday afternoon, August 10, at 2:30 p.m. Practices will be conducted at Welcome Stadium and the Jerry Von Mohr practice field adjacent to Welcome Stadium.
The Flyers will hold their first preseason scrimmage Saturday, August 21 at 6:45 p.m. ET as part of the University’s New Student Orientation Program.
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 same time frame.
Stay Tuned...The annual PFL coaches’ poll will be announced on Monday, August 9.
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. Watkins led UD in receptions (47) TD catches (7) and was second in yards per catch (19.7). Five returnees caught 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 banged up last year, two seasons ago Millio caught a UD single-season record 67 passes. Bellman led the Flyers in yards per catch (19.9), and would have led the PFL if he had enough receptions to qualify.