Written by Sean Dahlin
BUENA VISTA, Va.—USA College Sports, Inc., today announced its first USA College Football USCAA Preseason All-America team honoring 10 Southern Virginia University football scholar-athletes.
For defensive lineman Luke Herndon (Mechanicsville, Va.), running back Jerry Washington (Gloucester, Va.) and linebacker Dakoda Winsor (West Richland, Wash.), the USCAA Preseason All-America nomination is their second Preseason All-America selection of 2012—they were named to the USA College Football NAIA Preseason All-America team one month ago.
In 2012, Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald expects Herndon to be a key fixture on a solid Southern Virginia defense. As a three-year starter, senior-to-be Herndon will bring both experience and grit to the Knights' defensive line.
Herndon earned NAIA All-Independent Second Team honors last season after finishing second on the team in total tackles (62). He was also the Knights' only defensive player to earn USCAA national academic honors in 2011.
Herndon already ranks second all-time in Southern Virginia football history in quarterback sacks (7.0), fourth all-time in tackles-for-loss (17.5) and fifth all-time in assisted tackles (55).
On the offensive side of the ball, Washington had a particularly stellar rookie campaign last season in Southern Virginia's backfield leading the team with 906 rushing yards—second-most single-season rushing yards in program history—on 205 attempts, while also breaking the program's single-season record with 15 rushing touchdowns on route to becoming the program's first freshman to earn NAIA All-Independent Second Team honors.
"Even though he rushed for 900-plus yards last year, I don't think people realize how good Jerry [Washington] is or how good he can be," said Fitzgerald. "Jerry's going to have a big, big year for us at the tailback position. He's very deceptive and very competitive."
Winsor had a solid season defensively in 2011, wreaking havoc in opponents' backfields with 48 total tackles (30 assisted, 18 unassisted), 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 7 quarterback sacks.
In 2012, Winsor will move from outside linebacker—where he played last season—to middle linebacker filling the hole left behind by last year's senior defensive captain Tommy Davidson's (Paradise, Calif.).
Despite having big shoes to fill with Davidson's graduation, fourth-year Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald believes that Winsor will not only fill in at the middle linebacker position, but that he can also increase the overall speed and quickness of Southern Virginia's defense as the junior-to-be will also return kickoffs for the Knights again this season.
In addition to Herndon, Washington and Winsor, a slew of seven other Knights have also been honored as 2012 USCAA Preseason All-Americans: offensive lineman Tyler Condiff (Spring, Texas), punter Brenton Estorffe (Mooloolaba, Australia), defensive lineman Dylan Hall (Redding, Calif.), linebacker Robert Robbins (Glendale, Ariz.), tight end Jeff Waldron (Costa Mesa, Calif.), wide receiver Cameron Williams (Sacramento, Calif.) and defensive back Robert Williams (St. Cloud, Fla.).
After a solid 2011 campaign in creating holes for Washington to run through, junior-to-be Condiff will captain a young but talented offensive line. Condiff gives the Southern Virginia coaches a reason to relax a little more as he begins his third year as starter on the Knights' offensive line.
Estorffe had a solid 2011 season averaging 34.9 yards-per-punt, although Fitzgerald is also expecting his rugby-style punter to pin more opponents deep into their own territory this year.
In 2011, Hall had a solid first season with Southern Virginia ranking second on the team in tackles-for-loss (9.5) and third on the team in sacks (4) while also amassing 38 total tackles (22 assisted, 16 solo).
According to Fitzgerald, Southern Virginia's defense will be anchored by its two interior defensive linemen—Hall and Herndon—who are both captains this season and were a large part of the team's defensive production last season.
Robbins played for the Knights in 2008 and has recently returned from a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During his freshman season in 2008, Robbins recorded 48 total tackles (30 unassisted, 18 assisted) before leaving on his mission.
C. Williams led last year's squad in receptions (35), receiving yards (506) and touchdowns (5), while Waldron scored twice with 20 catches and 305 yards as Southern Virginia's fifth-leading receiver respectively.
"We expect another great season from Cameron [Williams], but we're going to make a concerted effort to get Jeff [Waldron] the ball more," Fitzgerald explained. "Jeff is a tank and is talented enough at the tight end position to continue playing after college and our quarterbacks just didn't find him enough last season."
Fitzgerald will look to senior captain R. Williams—the Knights' top cover corner a season ago with 3 interceptions for a team-high 61 interception-return yards—to shut down opponent receivers and lead the Knights' secondary.
"Those selected are deserving of their All-America selections," said Fitzgerald. "We expect them all to be an integral part of our team if we are to have any success this season."