Nine Leopards Earn All-Patriot League Football Honors
EASTON, Pa. -- Lafayette student-athletes earned nine spots on the All-Patriot League Football Teams announced on Wednesday morning. The Leopards had three first-team selections on offense and two on defense to go along with four second-team defensive selections.
Headlining the defensive first-team selections are senior linebacker Brandon Bryant and senior cornerback Phillip Parham. Bryant, who was a Preseason All-Patriot League selection, made good on the coaches’ predictions, finishing the season ranked third in the nation in tackles per game (12.1) and solo tackles per game (6.3).
The team captain ended his final campaign with 133 tackles, the most since 2005. He made a career-high 19 tackles against Harvard and was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week three times in 2017. It is the second All-League honor for Bryant, who was a second-team honoree in his sophomore year.
Parham led the nation in interceptions per game, recording seven picks in 11 starts, and passes defended (12 pass breakups plus 7 interceptions). He finished fifth on the team in tackles with 56, playing in 39 career games with 33 starts.
Tight end Dylan Wadsworth, fullback Will Eisler and return specialist C.J. Amill were selected to the All-Patriot League First Team Offense. Wadsworth, who like Bryant is a team captain and a Preseason All-Patriot League selection, finished second on the team with 41 receptions for 293 yards and one touchdown. Wadsworth played in 36 career games with 26 starts.
Eisler had a breakout season at fullback for the Leopards, seeing time in every game while logging four starts. Used primarily as a lead blocker and pass protector, he did find his way into the offensive game plan, catching eight passes for 72 yards while also managing three kick returns.
Amill may have cemented his All-Patriot League status with the final game of his 2017 junior season. He ran back a kickoff 96 yards in the second half against Lehigh, the fourth-longest kick return in Lafayette history. For the season, he averaged 29.4 yards per kick return, the second-highest return average in program history, a mark that places him fifth in the nation.
The final four All-Patriot League selections came on the defensive side of the ball. Fifth-year senior Matt Rothrock, the leader of the defensive line from his tackle spot, made 26 tackles with three sacks while starting all 11 games. Rothrock was also a Second-Team honoree in 2015 and started 33 of the 41 career games in which he played.
Junior Jerry Powe continued his outstanding play at linebacker. He finished third on the team with 70 tackles, including six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, while also recording his first career interception. Powe has started 28 of 32 games in his career.
Lafayette’s third level was also recognized on the second-team defense with the selection of sophomore corner Eric Mitchell (Martinsburg, W. Va./Martinsburg). Mitchell managed 41 tackles and a career-high three interceptions, including two in the shutout of Georgetown. He has played in 22 games with 17 starts in two seasons.
Punter Michael Turk (Dallas, Texas/Ridge Point) was a game changer for the Leopards’ special teams in his first season on College Hill. His 42.7 yards per punt broke a Lafayette single-season mark that had stood since 1946. Turk boomed 16 kicks of 50 or more yards and landed 18 of those efforts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line with only three punts resulting in touchbacks.
Lafayette finished the season 3-8 overall and 3-3 in Patriot League play under first-year head coach John Garrett. The Leopards open the 2018 season at Delaware on Sept. 8