Preseason Honors Continue To Roll In For Football Monarchs

July 12, 2010
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

July 12, 2010

NORFOLK, Va. - Several Monarchs were awarded preseason honors this week, including quarterback Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) being named to the Walter Payton Watch List on Monday.

The Sports Network established the Walter Payton Player of the Year Award in 1987, and it is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player on the FCS level. The winner is chosen by a nationwide panel of media and college sports information directors from the division. When the award was established, it was the only such award to be presented to an individual player in FCS football

"This is great recognition for Thomas and our team as a whole, as well as a big positive for our program to be recognized on the national level," said head coach Bobby Wilder. "It's great that our team is able to receive such national publicity as we continue to build our program with a challenging 2010 slate in front of us and entering the toughest FCS conference in the CAA in 2011."

The starting Monarch signal caller in DeMarco was number one in the FCS in points responsible for with 21.1 points per game and was the second leading quarterback in the FCS in rushing behind Florida A&M's Curtis Pulley. DeMarco totaled 892 yards rushing and 81.1 yards per game in helping the Monarchs to rank 10th among all FCS schools in rushing offense. He completed 137 of his 255 attempts with only four interceptions, threw for 21 touchdown passes, and passed for over 100 yards in all but one of ODU's 11 games last year. Phil Steele's also named DeMarco to his All-Independent team making it the second preseason nod for the rising redshit junior quarterback. DeMarco was also named Honorable Mention All-American by Consensus Draft Services.

In other notable national recognition of the rising Monarch football program, punter Jonathan Plisco (Newport News, Va.) was named First Team Preseason FCS All-American by Phil Steele.

Plisco, earned three All-America distinctions last fall. He was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press, a Second Team All-American by The Sports Network, and earned Honorable Mention status by The College Sporting News. He finished the 2009 season averaging a nation-leading 44.84 yards per punt and consistently ranked among the top punters nationally in the FCS throughout the year. He made 57 punts with 18 going 50 yards more, 26 inside the opponent 20, and seven for a touchback. The left footer averaged over 50 yards per punt in games with Chowan and Savannah State and posted a career-high 76-yard punt in a victory over Campbell. Entering the 2010 preseason, Plisco was named one of the top FCS specialists by the Sports Network and a First Team All-American by the Consensus Draft Services.

In addition to DeMarco being named to the Walter Payton watch list, he was one of nine Monarchs named to Phil Steele's Preseason All-Independent Team. On offense, DeMarco was joined by wide receivers Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.) and Mario Crawford (Detroit, Mich.), tackle Ryan Jensen (Petaluma, Calif.), and guard Bryan Morrison (Ashburn, Va.). Defensively, Old Dominion was represented by lineman Chad King (Springfield, Va.) and defensive backs Devon Simmons (Newport News, Va.) and Craig Wilkins (Washington, D.C.). Those Monarchs included on special teams were punter Plisco and Crawford as a returner.

Offensively, Mayers led the Monarchs with seven touchdown receptions and averaged 46.8 yards per game and 19.5 yards per catch, while Jensen and Morrison helped pave the way for Old Dominion to rank ninth among FCS schools in rushing offense (216.73 yds/g) and 18th among FCS schools in total offense (399.1 yds/g). Defensively, King led the Monarch defense in tackles for loss with 11 stops for a total loss of 41 yards, was fourth on the ODU defense in total tackles with 49 (28 solo, 21 assisted) and third on the Monarchs roster with five pass break-ups. Simmons meanwhile, led the Monarchs with four interceptions and tied for first among FCS independents in interceptions, while Wilkins was second on the Monarch roster in total tackles (65) and solo stops (46), led ODU in pass break-ups (7) and was second on the Monarch defense in interceptions (3). Crawford, on special teams, racked up 226 yards on 10 kickoff returns, including a long of 76, in the Monarchs first season of FCS play, while at running back was the second leading Monarch rusher at 60 yards per game and 6.1 yards per carry along with six touchdowns.