Dayton Has The Most Players Named To The Preseason Team
- LOUIS, Mo. —The Pioneer Football League announced its preseason all-conference team today and seven University of Dayton Flyers were named to the squad. Dayton’s seven selection were the most of any PFL school. Butler, Drake, Marist and defending league champion San Diego each had four. UD had three players named on offense, two on defense and two on special teams.
On special teams, punter Sean Smith returns for his senior season after being named First Team All-PFL for the third consecutive season. Last year he was one of three unanimous selections. Smith led the league in punting average for the third time (a career-best and Dayton record 42.7 yards per punt) in 2017. Smith also led the league in punts inside the opponent 20-yard line (24).
Flyer long snapper Matt Tunnacliffe was also named to the Preseason All-PFL team. A starting wide receiver on the team, Tunnacliffe was a double winner for Dayton in 2017. He was named the 2017 recipient of the Lt. Andy Zulli Award for sportsmanship, character, and leadership, and was also awarded the A.J. Cohen Flyer of the Year award for his everyday positive attitude and team-first approach. A walk-on in 2015, Tunnacliffe started every game last season. He was third on the team in receptions (21) and yards-per-catch (12.5).
On offense, running back Tucker Yinger, offensive tackle Ben Gauthier and tight end Adam Trautman were selected.
Yinger was named after being a First Team All-Pioneer Football League selection in 2017. It was Yinger’s third consecutive year of PFL accolades. He was Second Team All-PFL as a redshirt freshman in 2015, was Honorable Mention after an injury-plagued 2016 and the First Team after a 1,000 yard season last year. He was third in the PFL in rushing (98.9 yards a game) with seven 100-yard games. He is now sixth in career rushing at Dayton with 2,417 career yards and has a career yards-per-carry average of 5.8.
Opening many of the holes for Yinger was Gauthier, a 2018 co-captain. Gauthier was Second Team All-PFL last season. Gauthier is a three-year starter and enters 2018 with 32 career starts. Trautman was also on the second team after leading UD in receiving (43 catches, 12.3 avg.) and touchdowns (5) in 2017.
Defensive end Nick Surges and safety David Leisring were named on the defensive side of the ball.
Surges is a captain for the second consecutive season. He has received All-PFL recognition the last two seasons and has been on the PFL Academic Honor Roll the last three years. In 2017, he started all 11 games and was in on 49 tackles. He was the 2017 winner of UD’s Emil Karas Award for inspirational leadership, and is the Flyer spring fitness champion.
Leisring led the Flyers in total tackles (87) and solo tackles (54) last season, even though he missed one game. He was tied for second in the PFL in interceptions per game (0.40, tied with teammate Tim Simon), fourth in passes defended (1.10) and sixth in tackles (8.7). Leisring and Yinger were both named First Team Academic All-America last season.
Dayton returns 17 starters – nine from the offense, six from the defensive side of the ball, and both kicking specialists. UD opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 1 against Robert Morris at Welcome Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m. ET. For ticket information, please visit DaytonFlyers.com.