FCS 2018 Pioneer Awards


Offensive Player of the Year: Anthony Lawrence, QB, San Diego

Photo: San Diego Athletics

The redshirt senior quarterback has thrown for a USD-record 12,036 passing yards in his career, breaking Josh Johnson’s previous record. He’s also thrown for 120 career touchdowns, with a high of 39 in 2018. Lawrence is known for his competitiveness, level head, and desire to win. Along with being the Pioneer League OPY, Lawrence was a STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Finalist (12th), and Second Team HERO Sports FCS All-America.


Defensive Player of the Year: Nathan Clayberg, DL, Drake

Clayberg’s faith has been an important part of his life.
Photo: Drake University

Clayberg, a fifth-year senior defensive end on the Drake University football team, has been named the Pioneer League DPOY. He has helped captain one of the nation’s top defense as the Bulldogs’ rank eighth nationally in FCS play in scoring defense (18.3 points per game) and 13th in total defense (198.3 yards per game). Along the way, Clayberg has tallied 30 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He’s also tallied six pass breakups earning the league’s top defensive player of the year honors.

“I am a man of faith and I am passionate about seeing the Kingdom [of God] come to this earth,” Clayberg said recently. “Everything I do is focused through that lens. Right now it is smaller things, but I hope to continue to dream big and make a difference that spans the state, country and world.”


Special Teams Player of the Year: Michael Armstead, RS/WR, San Diego

Armstead was named the All-Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player of the Year and added All-PFL first team accolades to his list of honors. The junior from Monterey, CA, returned 26 kicks for 840 yards this year with a long of 100 yards.


Offensive Freshman of the Year: Jack Cook, QB, Dayton

Photo: Dayton Flyers

University of Dayton redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Cook was named the 2018 Pioneer Football League’s Freshman Offensive Player of the Year. Cook led all FCS freshmen in passing efficiency (155.5, 8th overall) and was ranked third among all FCS freshmen in passing yardage (2,421) and passing touchdowns (20).

Cook had two-record-breaking days this season.  At San Diego, Cook threw for a UD-record 432 yards (29 of 40) and had a hand in all five Flyer TD’s (4 passing, 1 rushing).  At Butler, he tied his current position coach, Kevin Hoyng, for the UD record for touchdown passes in a game (5).  Cook completed 16 of 19 passes for 254 yards in that game.


Co-Defensive Freshmen of the Year: Mickey Kane, DL, Butler and Dreylan Hines, DB, Davidson

Butler DE Mickey Kane was Pioneer Football League Co-Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. He played in all 11 games; made 21 total tackles; recorded 18 solo tackles; assisted on three tackles; had10 tackles for loss (33 yards); and led the team with five sack. He was also credited with one pass break up; one QB hurry and one fumble recovery.

Davidson DB Dreylan Hines is the other PFL Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year. Hines led all PFL freshmen in passes defended (8) and interceptions (4). His 4 picks led the Wildcats who made 13 as a team. Hines 0.24 interceptions per game ranked 24th in all of the FCS. The Arlington, Texas, native made 40 stops, tied for fifth on the team.

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