Valparaiso’s Washington, San Diego’s Glajchen Highlight 2020-21 PFL Major Award Recipients

Monday, April 26, 2021

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – For the first time in Pioneer Football League history, a Valparaiso student-athlete is the league’s Offensive Player of the Year as junior running back Robert Washington earned the league’s 2020-21 honor. In addition, redshirt senior defensive lineman Kevin Glajchen becomes the fifth San Diego student-athlete named the PFL Defensive Player of the Year. That duo highlighted the PFL’s 2020-21 Major Award Recipients selected by the PFL’s head coaches and presented Monday.

San Diego junior return specialist Hunter Nichols and Valparaiso senior punter Ben Niesner were the league’s Co-Special Teams Player of the Year honorees. The league’s coaches also named Presbyterian running back Delvecchio Powell II the Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and Davidson defensive lineman Jonathan Hammond the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.

Also, Scott Abell became only the second Davidson head coach named the PFL Coach of the Year.

The annual PFL Major Awards announcement launches the league’s annual awards week. The PFL will announce its 28th All-PFL Teams, Tuesday. The league will announce its Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Wednesday, coinciding with the announcement of the 28th Academic All-PFL teams. 

Washington, of Huntersville, North Carolina, ranked ninth among all FCS rushers in 2020-21 with 108.8 yards per game – 653 yards on 140 carries over six games. He also ranked among the FCS top 25 in carries (4th), total rushing yards (10th), and touchdowns (21st). After opening the spring with a 199-yard rushing performance at Butler, he added another three 100-yard rushing performances in the six-game campaign. Washington becomes the first Valparaiso student-athlete named the league’s top offensive or defensive player since the league established the awards in 2001.

Glajchen, of Saratoga, California, finished the season ranked among the FCS top 30 in both sacks (6th, 1.0 per game) and tackles for loss (29th, 1.4 per game). He enjoyed a 27-tackle campaign with 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks in a six-game season while also being credited with two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble. Glajchen opened the season with four tackles for loss against Drake. He later added a 3.5 tackle for loss outing against Stetson that included two sacks. It is the fifth time a San Diego student-athlete is the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Glajchen becoming the fourth different Torero to earn the award.

Nichols, of Los Angeles, ranked among the FCS’ Top 15 kick returners in both total kick return yardage (9th, 348 yards), kickoff returns (9th, 13), and kick return average (11th, 26.8 yards per return). He recorded 60 yards in kickoff returns in four of his six games, including 106 yards on four returns against Davidson. It is the third consecutive year a San Diego student-athlete has won the league’s top special teams honor.

Niesner’s 43.58 yards per punt during the spring was the second-best performance in league history, only trailing Valparaiso alumnus Greg Wood’s 43.64 yards per punt in 2010. The Black Diamond, Washington native, ranked eighth among FCS punters in punting average, with seven of his 31 punts going for more than 50 yards and nine downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He is the first Valparaiso student-athlete to earn the league’s top special teams award since it was established in 2015.

In the spring, Powell was Presbyterian’s top rusher, finishing with 285 yards and a touchdown over six games. The of Pooler, Georgia, native ranked among the FCS’ Top 15 freshmen running backs in total yardage and carries (7th, 77). Powell posted a 104-yard outing on 26 carries against Morehead State.

Hammond, of Dunwoody, Georgia, had a busy freshman campaign at Davidson finishing the spring with 16 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, an interception, two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He ranked among the FCS’ Top 50 in both tackles for loss (29th, 1.4 per game) and sacks (43rd, 0.67 per game).

Abell led Davidson to its first-ever PFL regular-season title and its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Football Championship this spring. A finalist for the 34th Eddie Robinson Award presented by STATS PERFORM, he led Davidson to an April 23 victory at San Diego to end the Toreros 39-game PFL winning streak and earn that organization’s “Team of the Week” award.

2020-21 Pioneer Football League Major Award Winners

Offensive Player of the Year: Robert Washington, Valparaiso
Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Glajchen, San Diego
Co-Special Teams Player of the Year: Hunter Nichols, San Diego
Co-Special Teams Player of the Year: Ben Niesner, Valparaiso
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Delvecchio Powell II, Presbyterian
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Hammond, Davidson
Coach of the Year: Scott Abell, Davidson
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: To be announced, Wednesday