2009 All-America Football Watch
Running back Dave Paveletz '10, punter/place-kicker Bobby Eppleman '11 and offensive lineman Drew Champney'10 will all return for Susquehanna football in the fall with great expectations and the opportunity to join a long list of SU football All-Americans.
Eppleman has joined that list already. In 2008, he and safety John Lunardi '09 earned second-team All-America honors from D3football.com, but Paveletz and Champney are still waiting for their turn.
The numbers are impressive for Paveletz, who, with his bullish, 5-foot-9, 225-pound frame, has gained a school-record 3,317 rushing yards in his career, including 1,314 and 1,173 yards in 2008 and 2007, respectively, each of which led the Liberty League. Those 1,314 yards ranked 14th in NCAA Division III last year, and his 108 points (on 18 touchdowns) tied for 20th in Division III. The latter two numbers both led the Liberty in 2008 as well, just as Paveletz also led the league in 2007 with 15 TD and 90 points.
The 1,314 rushing yards rank second in school history for a single season behind the record set by Matt Wichlinski '00, who ran for just eight more yards in 1997. Of Paveletz’s 18 TD last year, 17 came on rushes, an accomplishment that also ranks second to Wichlinski (18 in 1997) in school single-season history. Paveletz sits third in SU history in career rushing TD with 36. Wichlinski ran for 37 from 1995 to 1998, and Jason Eck '05 ran for 45 from 2001 to 2004.
Paveletz has been a first-team all-Liberty running back in each of the last two seasons, including being a unanimous selection last year. He was a D3football.com National Team of the Week honoree Oct. 5–11, 2008, after setting school single-game records with 47 carries and 288 yards in a 28–13 win over the University of Rochester on Oct. 11. He ran for four TD in that game, which ties the school single-game record. He has done it twice.
“I want the school single-season rushing record, too,” says Paveletz. “I always set my goals high, and this year, I’d love to have about 1,500 rushing yards, 2,000 all-purpose yards and maybe five yards per carry. And even one fumble is too many. I have all of those goals written down on a big piece of paper, but at the bottom of that paper, it reads, ‘What would you give them all up for?’ And the answer is a Liberty League championship.”
Eppleman also had a remarkable 2008. He averaged 42.74 yards per punt, good for third in Division III and better than 12 NFL punters last season. That average is both a career and single-season record at Susquehanna. He also broke the school record with a 73yard punt in a 10–3 win over Juniata College on Sept. 13.
Just 11 days after joining Lunardi on the D3football.com all–East Region first team, Eppleman became the only non-junior or senior to earn 2008 D3football.com All-America honors. Eppleman was a first-team all-Liberty punter and second-team place-kicker last season. He was an all-league honorable mention place-kicker in 2007.
“Obviously, it’s a great honor to be an All-American, but I want that in the back of my mind,” says Eppleman. “If I punt more inside the 20-yard line, my average [per punt] may go down, but I would be helping the team win. I want to help the team win more than anything else.”
Champney was a third-team all-region choice at offensive tackle in 2008. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder also was a unanimous all-Liberty first-team offensive lineman last year and a second-team offensive lineman in 2007. He started all 10 games for Susquehanna in 2008 and protected the blind side of right-handed starting quarterback and all-Liberty honorable mention Derek Pope ’09, while also helping to pave the way for Paveletz.
“It would be a great honor to be selected as an All-American,” says Champney. “But I don’t really think about that. This year, I’m looking forward to working hard and building the most dominant offensive line in the Liberty.
“Being an All-American would be nice, but I would much rather win a league championship and make the [national] playoffs.”
And with these three returning, it’s certainly possible.
The contributing writer to Scoreboard is Robert Edward Healy III, director of athletics communications.