This feature story on Joey DeFloria originally ran in the program for Bucknell's game against Holy Cross on Sept. 9, 2017.
Joey DeFloria waited two seasons for his chance to be Bucknell’s featured running back. And he took full advantage when the time came for him to step into the starting role.
In the 2016 season opener at Marist, DeFloria rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Early in the first quarter, after the Red Foxes opened the scoring with a field goal, he exploded through a seam for a 32-yard score that set the tone for the rest of the game, a 26-10 Bucknell victory.
DeFloria went on to run for more than 100 yards five more times, finishing the campaign ranked second in the Patriot League, and 21st in the country, with 1,070 rushing yards. If you ask DeFloria how he became only the 10th Bison to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a single season, he’s quick to give much of the credit to Matt DelMauro and C.J. Williams, who he watched back when he was a reserve.
“I have to give a shout out to them because they were mentors to me,” DeFloria said. “Matt is a very smart guy who was a second coach in the running-back room. He taught me so much about schematics and how to prepare to play at this level. We both may not be the biggest guys, but we’re two of the quickest, and I’ve tried to model my game after his. As for C.J., he helped me get used to running downhill. Coming out of high school, I was more of a spread guy who ran to the perimeter, and I learned a lot by watching him. He was power back who had some boogey in his step, and I definitely took some of his moves.”
Like DelMauro, DeFloria brings elusiveness to the table; like Williams, he’s explosive enough to run downhill. Head coach Joe Susan said the Bison have been able to use DeFloria as a three-down back because of his versatility.
“Joey has very good speed and quickness,” Susan said. “For a person who isn’t the biggest guy in the world, he’s strong. He’s good in and out of his holes and reads defenses well. He’s a good pass protector, which is a very important thing in our offense.”
DeFloria has also been able to catch his fair share of passes. A year ago, he took second on the team in receptions (29) and fourth in receiving yards (216), which helped him place fourth in the Patriot League with 1,286 all-purpose yards.
“It’s nice to get the ball as often as they give it to me,” DeFloria said with a chuckle. “But it’s even nicer because it’s another learning experience. I don’t only having meetings with coach [Jake] Flaherty and the running backs; I also get to meet with coach [Steven] King and the wideouts to go over routes and coverages. And that’s helped me to see the game in a different way, which has definitely made me a better football player.”
Because DeFloria had help from DelMauro and Williams to become the football player he is today, he’s also focused on helping the underclassmen get better every day. Chad Freshnock, who ran for 604 yards as a freshman in 2016, said DeFloria was a key reason why he was able to make such a seamless transition to the college game.
"He knows a lot about the game,” Freshnock said. "He's like a second coach out there. A lot of times, I'll make a run, and he'll critique me. We talk a lot on and off the field, and that's made both of us better.”
DeFloria has worked tirelessly to make sure his senior season is even better than his magical junior campaign. And, if it is, he may just accomplish both of his goals.
“I want to have my name under the All-Patriot League First Team at the end of the year,” DeFloria said. “But, even at the expense of that, I want to win a Patriot League Championship. Every single guy in the locker room wants that, and we’ll do anything to get it done.”
The DeFloria File
- 2016 All-Patriot League Second Team
- 2016 Big Blue Award and Sledge Hammer Award winner
- The 10th Bison to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a single season
- Needs 534 yards to crack Bucknell’s top 10 in career rushing yards
- Needs four 100-yard rushing games to become the seven Bison with at least 10 in his career
- Ranks sixth in program history in single-season rushing attempts (230, 2016)
- Ranks eighth in program history in single-season rushing yards (1,070, 2016)
- Rushed for at least 100 yards in six of Bucknell’s 11 2016 contests
- In 2016, finished second in the Patriot League in yards and fourth in all-purpose yards (1,286)