Phil Steele Tabs Taylor PFL Defensive Player of the Year; 13 Eagles Selected All-PFL
Thirteen Morehead State football student-athletes have been honored as Preseason All-Pioneer League picks by Phil Steele Magazine, with senior defensive end Vaughn Taylor, Jr., being tabbed as the pick for Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Other first-team selections include wide receiver/kick returner/all-purpose athlete BJ Byrd, offensive lineman Cam Mariott, linebacker Vincent Winey and punt returner Ian Holder. Second-team picks are quarterback Mark Pappas, wide receiver Thomas Campbell-Clay, offensive lineman Jacob Ungruhe, defensive lineman Devon Connors and punter Andrew Foster. Players on PS's Third-Team All-PFL are offensive lineman Michael Davis, defensive lineman Nick Lavender and defensive back Tyler Noble.
Taylor, Jr., finished the shortened 2020-21 season with 32 total tackles with 14 of them being solo and 10 for losses. The Washington, D.C., native led the team in sacks with five. He also totaled four quarterback hurries and two pass break-ups leading him to his unanimous and second career First-Team All-PFL selection. He heads into his final season with 37 career tackles for loss. Taylor, Jr., led the PFL in sacks and TFLs during the 2019 season.
Byrd, a Jacksonville University transfer, finished as the PFL leader in receiving touchdowns with eight during the spring 2021 ledger, scoring with 54 points, kick return touchdowns with one, and total touchdowns with nine. He was a First-Team All-PFL honoree. Byrd also made the All-PFL Second-Team as an all-purpose player. The Richmond, Calif., native racked up 734 all-purpose yards on the season. Byrd was also named the PFL Co-Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance against Butler at home. He was named Second-Team Academic All-PFL too.
Marriott, from Redlands, Calif., blocked for a unit that generated 335 yards on offense per game in PFL contests in the spring. He started all seven games this season, shifting around on the line and seeing time at center as well. In addition, Marriott was named First-Team All-PFL and First-Team Academic All-PFL.
Winey, a native of Lindenhurst, N.Y., led Morehead State with 84 total tackles with 41 of them being solo and seven for loss in the spring. He ranked second in the league in total tackles. The senior also forced and recovered a fumble. Winey was named PFL Defensive Player of the Week after his program single-game record performance, 23 total tackles, against Butler at home.
Holder, from Mount Airy, N.C., returned only two punts in the spring but averaged 37 yards per return. He averaged 11.5 in the 2019 season.
Pappas, from Avon Lake, Ohio, led the PFL in five statistical categories including passing efficiency (134.6), passing touchdowns (14), and passing yards (1,568). He completed 62 percent of his passes and recorded 17 total touchdowns while earning First-Team All-PFL. He also had five games where he accounted for at least three total touchdowns. He enters the 2021 campaign with 3,553 career passing yards and 30 touchdowns.
Campbell-Clay, hailing from Knoxville, Tenn., ranked second only behind Byrd with 28 catches and 428 yards in the spring. He caught four touchdowns, including one at PFL champion Davidson along with 150 yards there.
Ungruhe transferred from Urbana (Ohio) and immediately teamed up with Marriott on the front line to help MSU's offense move the ball consistently. He is from Maineville, Ohio.
Connors, a transfer from Purdue from Tampa, Fla., totaled 18 tackles in thre spring with half of the them being in the backfield. He ranked second on the team with nine tackles for loss. He also had three sacks.
For the third consecutive season, the Knoxville, Tenn., native Foster averaged more than 40 yards per punt. Six of his 36 boots went more than 50 yards as well.
Davis, an Honorable Mention All-PFL lineman, is from Beavercreek, Ohio. He has been a mainstay on the front line on offense for the past two seasons.
Lavender, who also transferred from Jacksonville, burst onto the MSU scene with 18 tackles and four for losses in the spring. He was also an ALL-PFL postseason honoree. Lavender hails from Jacksonville, Fla.
Noble, a native of Irvine, Calif., had 30 total stops and two of the Eagles' PFL-leading 14 interceptions.