LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell football team will return six of its seven All-Patriot League selections from 2013 and all six were named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team, it was announced Wednesday at the annual Patriot League Football Media Day at Green Pond Country Club. Bucknell was tabbed to finish fourth in the league’s preseason poll.
Fordham was listed as the favorite in the preseason poll, earning the maximum number of first-place votes (12). Lehigh was picked to finish second, while defending champion Lafayette was listed third with the remaining two first-place votes. The Bison were firmly in fourth, 10 points ahead of fifth-place Colgate. Holy Cross (29 points) and Georgetown (12) were predicted to finish sixth and seventh, respectively.
Bucknell is coming off its second above-.500 season in the last three years and returns 17 regular starters from a squad that was 6-5 overall and 3-2 in Patriot League play. The Bison finished in a tie for second place in the Patriot League last fall.
Bucknell’s Preseason All-Patriot League selections include three offensive and three defensive standouts, including senior DL Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, senior LB Evan Byers, sophomore OL Julie'n Davenport, senior OL Lonnie Rawles, senior S Matthew Steinbeck and sophomore RB C.J. Williams.
A Second Team All-Patriot League selection a year ago, Baldwin-Youngblood was named to the CFPA Preseason Defensive Line Watch List earlier this summer. He tied for the Patriot League lead in sacks (8.0) in 2013 and was seventh in the conference in tackles for loss (11.5). A veteran of 30 games, Baldwin-Youngblood totaled 45 tackles to rank sixth on the squad and was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 18 after registering a career-high three sacks in a win over Georgetown.
Byers is a two-time All-Patriot League selection, earning First-Team honors last year after being named to the Second Team as a sophomore in 2012. Named a Preseason Third Team All-American by The Sports Network, Byers is now a two-time Preseason All-Patriot League pick. He is coming off back-to-back 100-tackle campaigns, including a team-high 129 stops last fall to rank eighth on the program’s single-season list. Byers totaled eight double-figure tackle outings, including five in a row at one point, en route to his second straight team MVP honor.
Bucknell returns all five starters on an experienced offensive line, including Davenport and Rawles. Davenport was a Second Team All-Patriot League selection as a rookie last season, starting all 11 games at left tackle. He earned the Stuart M. Smith Award as the team’s top newcomer. Rawles enters his final season as a Bison having started 29 consecutive games, including all 11 last year at left guard. He was a First Team All-Patriot League choice and earned the John Campana Award as the team’s top offensive lineman for a second straight year.
A team co-captain, Steinbeck joins Byers as a two-time All-Patriot League pick. He was a Second-Team selection last year after landing on the First Team as a sophomore in 2012. A two-time Preseason All-Patriot League choice and a two-time member of the CFPA Defensive Back Preseason Watch List, Steinbeck ranks seventh on Bucknell’s career interceptions list with 11 and is coming off a season where he ranked third on the team with a career-high 64 tackles. A two-year starter, Steinbeck was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week last October after posting eight tackles and intercepting two passes in a 48-10 win over nationally ranked Lehigh.
Williams made an immediate impact on Bucknell’s running attack as a freshman last fall, earning Second Team All-Patriot League honors after posting four 100-yard rushing performances and accumulating a team-high 899 yards overall, the most by a Bison running back in a decade. A member of the CFPA National Freshman Performer of the Year and Jerry Rice Award watch lists, Williams led the Bison with 1,029 all-purpose yards, more than doubling anyone else on the roster.
Bucknell will begin preseason practice Monday, Aug. 4, and the season opener is scheduled for Aug. 30 vs. VMI at 6 p.m. at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
2014 Patriot League Football Preseason Poll
1. Fordham, 72 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Lehigh, 54
3. Lafayette, 51 (2)
4. Bucknell, 43
5. Colgate, 33
6. Holy Cross, 29
7. Georgetown, 12
2014 Patriot League Football Preseason All-League Team
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Mike Nebrich, QB, Fordham (Sr.)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Stephen Hodge, LB, Fordham (Sr.)
QB Mike Nebrich, Fordham (Sr.)
RB Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette (Sr.)
RB C.J. Williams, Bucknell (So.)
FB/HB Ed Pavalko, Colgate (Sr.)
WR Sam Ajala, Fordham (Sr.)
WR Tebucky Jones, Fordham (Sr.)
WR Brian Wetzel, Fordham (Sr.)
TE Dan Light, Fordham (Sr.)
OL Luke Chiarolanzio, Lafayette (Jr.)
OL Ned Daryoush, Lehigh (Jr.)
OL Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell (So.)
OL Mason Halter, Fordham (Sr.)
OL Lonnie Rawles, Bucknell (Sr.)
RS Kalif Raymond, Holy Cross (Jr.)
RS Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
PK Michael Marando, Fordham (Sr.)
DL Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, Bucknell (Sr.)
DL Brett Biestek, Fordham (Gr.)
DL Tim Newton, Lehigh (Sr.)
DL DeAndre Slate, Fordham (Sr.)
LB Nick Alfieri, Georgetown (Sr.)
LB Evan Byers, Bucknell (Sr.)
LB Stephen Hodge, Fordham (Sr.)
LB Kris Kent, Colgate (Sr.)
DB Mike Armiento, Colgate (Sr.)
DB Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
DB Matthew Steinbeck, Bucknell (Sr.)
DB Ian Williams, Fordham (Sr.)
P Joe Pavlik, Fordham (So.)