University of Delaware's Devlin Earns First Team All-American Honors by Phil Steele's College Football Preview; Four Other Blue Hens Honored
Photo: Pat Devlin (17) and Gino Gradkowski (56) (Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell)
January 1, 2011
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- University of Delaware football head coach K.C. Keeler has said all season that he thinks Blue Hen senior quarterback Pat Devlin is the best quarterback in the nation at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision level.
The committee that selects the Phil Steele’s College Football Preview All-American teams certainly agrees.
Devlin, who has led the Blue Hens to a berth in the NCAA FCS championship game next week, was named the first team quarterback and was joined by four other players on the All-American teams that were announced recently.
In addition to Devlin (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East HS), freshman running back Andrew Pierce was named the national Freshman of the Year, junior offensive guard Gino Gradkowski earned second team honors, senior safety Anthony Bratton earned third team laurels, and senior cornerback Anthony Walters earned a spot on the fourth team.
The group has led the No. 5 ranked and third seeded Blue Hens to a 12-2 record this season and a berth in the NCAA FCS national championship game Jan. 7 vs. No. 1 ranked and fifth seed Eastern Washington (12-2) in Frisco, Texas. The Hens also earned a share of the Colonial Athletic Association title this fall.
Devlin, Pierce, Bratton, and Walters all earned their second All-American honors of the season while Gradkowski gained his first award of the post-season. Devlin earned third team honors by the Associated Press, Pierce was a third team pick by The Sports Network, Bratton was a third team pick by both The Sports Network and Associated Press, and Walters was a third team Associated Press pick.
A second-year transfer from Penn State, the 6-4, 220 lb. Devlin has enjoyed an outstanding senior campaign and was named the CAA Offensive Player of the Year in November. He has completed 239 of 350 passes for 2,812 yards and 22 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He leads all FCS quarterbacks in completion pct. with a mark of 68.3 percent and ranks third in passing rating with a mark of 155.37. He also ranks 23rd in passing yards per game (216.3) and No. 28 in total offense per game (225.0)
He has thrown for over 200 yards eight times this season, including six times in the last seven years. He has been nearly flawless over the last six games, including three playoff appearances, completing 135 of 189 passes (71.4 percent) for 1,517 and 16 touchdowns with just one interception. He threw for a season-high 318 yards vs. Towson on Nov. 6 and threw for four touchdowns against both Massachusetts and Lehigh.
Gradkowski, a 6-4, 294 junior from Pittsburgh, Pa. (Seton-LaSalle HS), anchored an offensive line that featured just one senior and ranked among the CAA’s best, opening holes for Devlin and Pierce. A first team All-CAA selection, Gradkowski helped lead an offense that ranked No. 2 in the CAA in scoring (28.5 points per game), rushing offense (183.5 yards per game), and total offense (400.7 yards per game).
Bratton, a 6-2, 205 lb. senior from Manassas, Va. (Osbourn Park HS) who earned first team All-CAA honors this season, has anchored a defense that has led the nation in scoring defense all season long and allows just 11.5 points per game entering the national championship game. The Blue Hens also rank No. 5 nationally in total defense (277.4 yards per game) and No. 8 in passing efficiency defense.
He ranks second on the team with 92 tackles (55 solo), has posted three tackles for loss, intercepted two passes, forced two fumbles, and recorded a team-high 11 pass breakups. He posted 10 more tackles four times, including a career-high 14 stops in the NCAA semifinal win over Georgia Southern and 12 in a regular season victory over nationally-ranked James Madison.
Walters, a 6-1, 200 lb. senior from Philadelphia, Pa. (Cardinal O’Hara HS), also earned second team All-CAA honors earlier this season. Despite missing two games with injuries, he leads the team and ranks among the national leaders with seven interceptions for 138 yards. He also ranks seventh on the squad with 67 tackles (54 solo) while registering three tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
Pierce, a 5-11, 200 lb. freshman walk-on from Bridgeton, N.J. (Cumberland Regional High School), earned the starting job late in pre-season camp in August and has enjoyed a brilliant rookie season for the Blue Hens, starting all 14 games in the single back offense and rushing 301 times for 1,513 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has caught 28 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
Pierce’s 301 carries and 1,513 yards are each the third highest single season mark in school history with his 13 touchdowns ranking ninth. His 108.0 yards per game average ranks No. 18 in the nation, second among all freshmen. He has rushed for over 100 yards six times, including a UD freshman record 200 yards vs. Duquesne on Sept. 18 and 186 yards in the NCAA semifinal win over Georgia Southern.
The five Blue Hen players were among 16 CAA players named to the four teams.
In addition to Pierce, Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones was named the National Offensive Player of the Year, Massachusetts linebacker Tyler Holmes was named Defensive Player of the Year, Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana was named Offensive Lineman of the Year, and Idaho State return specialist Tavoy Moore was named the Special Teams Player of the Year.
Phil Steele College Football Preview All-American Team:
1st team Offense: QB Pat Devlin (Delaware); RB - Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington), Henry Harris (Southeast Missouri State); FB - Eric Breitenstein (Wofford); WR - Chris Summers (Liberty), Raymond Webber (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Tysson Poots (Southern Utah); TE - Andrew Kennedy (Columbia); C - Sean Middleton (Southeast Missouri State); OT - Ben Ijalana (Villanova), Will Rackley (Lehigh); OG - Brant Clouser (Villanova), Pat Illig (Wofford)
1st team Defense: DE - Mario Kurn (San Diego State), Ameet Pall (Wofford); DT - Brent Russell (Georgia Southern), Kenrick Ellis (Hampton); LB - Tyler Holmes (Massachusetts), J.C. Sherritt (Eastern Washington), Matt Evans (New Hampshire), Kyle Glazier (Western Illinois); CB - Korey Lindsay (Southern Illinois), Trumaine Johnson (Montana); S - Mark LeGree (Appalachian State), Eugene Clifford (Tennessee State).
1st team Special Teams: K - Matt Bevins (Liberty); P - David Miller (William & Mary); KR - Larrone Moore (Delaware State); PR - Tavoy Moore (Idaho State).
Other CAA Players Honored:
Second Team: OG Gino Gradkowski (Delaware), DT Martin Parker (Richmond), LB Eric McBride (Richmond), CB Dino Vasso (New Hampshire)
Third Team: DE Brian McNally (New Hampshire), CB Justin Rogers (Richmond), S Anthony Bratton (Delaware)
Fourth Team: WR Norman White (Villanova), CB Anthony Walters (Delaware), KR Justin Rogers (Richmond)