Twelve First-Team All-PFL returnees highlight Preseason All-PFL Team

Monday, July 30, 2018
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations

SAINT LOUIS – Thirty-one student-athletes were named to the 2018 Preseason All-Pioneer Football League Team as selected by the league’s head coaches and announced Monday.

The PFL will announce its preseason coaches’ poll Tuesday.

Returning players who were selected to the league’s 2017 All-PFL Teams were placed automatically on the 2018 Preseason All-PFL team in order of voting. Twelve First-Team All-PFL honorees return for the 2017 season. In addition, 11 Second-Team All-PFL selections and eight honorable mention recipients join the 2017 preseason squad.

San Diego quarterback Anthony Lawrence, a two-time First-Team All-PFL selection, returns to lead the PFL’s preseason offensive unit. He finished 2017 ranked among the FCS Top 10 in passing touchdowns (3rd, 33), passing efficiency (5th, 163.3) and completion percentage (8th, 65.5). Lawrence led San Diego to the second round of the FCS Playoffs for a second consecutive year.

The league’s wide receiver corps is led by a quartet of seniors, including returning first-team selections Butler’s Pace Temple and Marist’s Juston Christian as well as Drake’s Steve Doran and Morehead State’s Jarin Higginbotham, who were each second-team All-PFL picks last season. Christian is a three-time First-Team All-PFL pick, posted 1,096 receiving yards last season and enters 2017 with 2,914 career receiving yards. Temple (1,075) and Higginbotham (974) and Doran (790), join Christian as the league’s top four returning receivers in total receiving yards. Joining the receivers is Dayton’s Adam Trautman, who is the PFL’s preseason choice at tight end after amassing 537 receiving yards last season.

A pair of returning First-Team All-PFL picks also return at running back in Davidson’s Wesley Dugger and Dayton’s Tucker Yinger. Both athletes rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2017 with Dugger finished the season ranked 10th nationally in both rushing yards (1,131) and rushing yards per game (102.8). Yinger was not far behind with his 1,088 rushing yards ranked 15th nationally.

San Diego’s Daniel Cooney, a Preseason All-America choice, leads the league’s Preseason All-PFL offensive line and is the only First-Team All-PFL returnee to the unit. Butler’s Bobby Jensen and Dakota Sneed, Dayton’s Ben Gauthier, Drake’s Jordan Lewinsky, and Valparaiso’s Tom Schofield also highlight the preseason offensive line group.

On the defensive line, Drake’s Nathan Clayberg returns after garnering First-Team All-PFL honors following a 44-tackle campaign. Marist’s Eddie Zinn-Turner notched 49 tackles and two forced fumbles in a Second-Team All-PFL campaign last season. Dayton’s Nick Surges (49 tackles) and San Diego’s Connor Spencer (24 tackles, 5 TFL) return to fill out the defensive line.

Marist’s Willie Barrett – a First-Team All-PFL honoree last season – returns to lead the PFL’s linebackers corps after a 53-tackle campaign that saw him post 9.5 tackles for loss. Jacksonville’s Trevor Tufano (63 tackles, 4.5 TFL) and Caysaun Wakeley (70 tackles, 7.5 TFL) also return as does Valparaiso’s Nick Turner (101 tackles, 8.0 TFL).

The PFL’s defensive backfield is led by returning First-Team All-PFL pick Sean Lynch, of Drake, who posted 72 tackles and two interceptions last season. Stetson’s JJ Henderson (71 tackles, 11 pass break ups) returns after second-team honors while Dayton’s David Leisring (86 tackles, four interceptions) and Marist’s Wes Beans (71 tackles, four pass break ups) round out the defensive back unit.

Two returning First-Team All-PFL choices return to anchor the league’s special teams unit. Butler’s Drew Bevelhimer was a first-team choice at placekicker after connecting on 16 of his 21 field goal attempts and 30 of his 32 PATs. Dayton punter Sean Smith averaged 42.7 yards per punt and placed 24 of his 51 punts inside the 20-yard line en route to his third First-Team All-PFL selection. Valparaiso return specialist Bailey Gessinger (771 combined kick return yards) and Dayton long snapper Matt Tunnacliffe also were named to the preseason special teams unit.


2018 Preseason All-Pioneer Football League Team

(as selected by PFL head coaches)

Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
WR Pace Temple (1) Butler 6-2 200 Sr. Geneva, Ill.
WR Steven Doran (2) Drake 6-3 212 Sr. Germantown, Wis.
WR Juston Christian (1) Marist 6-0 186 Sr. Owings Mills, Md.
WR Jarin Higginbotham (2) Morehead State 6-0 195 RSr. Liberty Township, Ohio.
QB Anthony Lawrence (1) San Diego 6-1 195 RSr. La Mesa, Calif.
TE Adam Trautman (2) Dayton 6-1 225 RSr. Williamsburg, Mich.
RB Wesley Dugger (1) Davidson 6-0 192 So. Cincinnati, Ohio
RB Tucker Yinger (1) Dayton 6-0 191 RSr. Columbus, Ohio
FB Zach Nelson (1) San Diego 6-2 240 RJr. Danville, Calif.
OL Bobby Jensen (H) Butler 6-4 290 RSr. Plainfield, Ind.
OL Dakota Sneed (H) Butler 6-3 285 RSr. Edinburgh, Ind.
OL Ben Gauthier (2) Dayton 6-2 275 Sr. Avon, Ohio
OL Jordan Lewinsky (2) Drake 6-5 290 RSr. Mequon, Wis.
OL Daniel Cooney (1) San Diego 6-8 315 RSr. Western Springs, Ill.
OL Tom Schofield (2) Valparaiso 6-3 285 Sr. Chicago, Ill.
DL Nick Surges (H) Dayton 6-3 237 RSr. Naperville, Ill.
DL Nathan Clayberg (1) Drake 6-4 282 RSr. Pella, Iowa
DL Eddie Zinn-Turner (2) Marist 6-1 298 RJr. Malvern, Ohio
DL Connor Spencer (H) San Diego 6-3 285 RSr. Boulder, Colo.
LB Caysaun Wakeley (H) Jacksonville 5-11 200 Jr. Alachua, Fla.
LB Trevor Tufano (2) Jacksonville 5-11 210 Jr. New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
LB Willie Barrett (1) Marist 5-11 227 RSr. Holiday, Fla.
LB Nick Turner (2) Valparaiso 6-1 225 Sr. Gurnee, Ill.
DB David Leisring (H) Dayton 6-1 190 Sr. Cincinnati, Ohio
DB Sean Lynch (1) Drake 5-9 181 RSr. Hawthorn Woods, Ill.
DB Wes Beans (H) Marist 5-10 192 RSr. New Oxford, Pa.
DB JJ Henderson (2) Stetson 5-10 161 RSo. Tampa, Fla.
PK Drew Bevelhimer (1) Butler 6-1 185 Jr. Indianapolis, Ind.
P Sean Smith (1) Dayton 6-4 222 Sr. Avondale, Pa.
RS Bailey Gessinger (2) Valparaiso 5-10 165 Jr. Napanee, Ind.
LS Matt Tunnacliffe (H) Dayton 6-3 200 Sr. West Chester, Ohio
Notes in parentheses: 1-was a first-team selection in 2017, 2-was a second-team selection in 2017, H-was a honorable mention selection in 2017.