CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Punter Alex Pechin was named the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and three of his Bucknell football teammates joined him on the 2017 Academic All-Patriot League Team, the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
With seniors Jack Horan, Andrew Podbielski and Mark Pyles joining Pechin on the 14-man academic team, Bucknell had double the number of selections as the other Patriot League teams. It was the highest number of Bison voted to the team since 2010, when four were recognized for their athletic and academic achievements.
Pechin is the eighth Bison to be honored as the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, joining Bill Farthing (1989), David Berardinelli (1991 and 1992), Rob Glus (1993 and 1994), Kevin Eiben (2000), Travis Nissley (2009 and 2010), Tim Bolte (2011) and Matt DelMauro (2015).
Alex Pechin was honored as the @PatriotLeagueFB Scholar-Athlete of the Year; a league-high four Bison were named to the Academic All-League Team.— Bucknell Football (@Bucknell_FB) November 22, 2017
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A junior Biomedical Engineering/Management for Engineers major, Pechin posted a punting average of 45.1 in 2017, shattering his own school record of 42.1 he set in 2015. His punting average was also slotted third in the NCAA FCS at the conclusion of the regular season. Of his 72 punts, 26 sailed for at least 50 yards, 34 fell inside the 20 and 22 went for fair catches; he posted a season-long 67-yard punt in the 2017 finale at Fordham and had zero punts blocked over the course of the season.
Yesterday, Pechin was honored on the All-Patriot League First Team. Also a 2015 First Team selection, he is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and has been recognized on Bucknell's Dean's List every semester. Heavily involved on campus, he is a grader for Physics 211 and 212, a football team peer tutor, a Bucknell Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member and a Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute Emerging Leaders participant.
Horan has been an impact player since moving to wide receiver from quarterback in 2016. That season, he finished second among Bison in receiving yards (239). In 2017, he was a favorite target of Bucknell's quarterbacks, leading the team in receiving yards (377) despite missing the final three games of the season due to injury.
An Accounting and Financial Management major, Horan was previously recognized on the 2017 and 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 Teams and the 2016 Academic All-Patriot League Team. He is also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies.
Like Horan, Podbielski was voted to the Academic All-Patriot League Team for the second-straight season. An Environmental Studies major, he enjoyed his most productive offensive campaign as a senior, posting a career-high 240 receiving yards despite missing two games due to injury. One of only four Bison seniors who started at least 30 games, the tight end finished his career with 537 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Pyles, one of only nine Bison to serve as captain for more than one season, totaled 73 tackles (40 solo), eight tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and one interception. The linebacker finished his career with 231 tackles (131 solo), 19 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and 11 defended passes in 42 games; Pyles, who started 31 of those games, made at least 50 tackles each of his three seasons as a starter.
Pyles was honored on the 2017 All-Patriot League First Team and the 2016 and 2015 Second Teams. A 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 pick, he was among 181 semifinalists for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy®, more commonly known as the Academic Heisman. He and Lehigh's Jimmy Mitchell were the lone Patriot League student-athletes among the 37 semifinalists that hailed from FCS teams.
The Academic All-Patriot League Team mirrors the All-Patriot League First Team with 14 spots. To be eligible for this prestigious honor, a student-athlete must be a starter or key player and have at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average. One of those 14 is then recognized as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Corvias Patriot League Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Alex Pechin, Bucknell, Jr., P
2017 Football Academic All-Patriot League Team
Alex Pechin, Bucknell, Jr., P
Jack Horan, Bucknell, Sr., WR
Andrew Podbielski, Bucknell, Sr., TE
Mark Pyles, Bucknell, Sr., LB
Josh Cerra, Colgate, Jr., P
Jonathan Dimon, Fordham, Sr., DL
Jelani Williamson, Georgetown, Sr. CB
Jim McLaughlin, Georgetown, Sr. WR
Ryan Brady, Holy Cross, Jr., LB
Jayke Simsheuser, Holy Cross, Sr., TE
Trent Crossan Lafayette, Jr., LB
Andrew Chuma, Lafayette, Jr., DL
Jimmy Mitchell, Lehigh, Sr., DL
Harrison Kauffman, Lehigh, Jr., DL