ST. LOUIS – The Jacksonville University football team saw a pair of returning starters earn spots on the 2018 Preseason All-Conference Team, as announced by the Pioneer Football League Monday Afternoon.
Both players return to the Dolphins' sidelines after earning All-PFL recognition following the 2017 campaign. Tufano was named Second-Team All-PFL, while Wakeley earned PFL Honorable Mention honors.
"It is always nice to be recognized in preseason as a potential All-Conference performer, so for Trevor and Caysaun, it's certainly an honor, and a much deserved one based upon past performance," Head Coach Ian Shields said. "That being said, I know both are more concerned about where we're headed, and what we can accomplish collectively as team in this upcoming season."
Both Sunshine State natives, Tufano and Wakeley will bring their talents back to the River City in 2018 along with redshirt-senior linebacker Thomas Oporto. Together, the three steadied the team in tackles in 2017 (Oporto, Wakeley, Tufano), and missed just one combined start.
Wakeley ranked second among defenders with 70 tackles and 7.5 tackles for a loss, adding a sack, a forced fumble, a pair of pass break-ups and his first career interception, which came in a home win over Valparaiso on Nov. 4.
Tufano finished third on the team with 63 tackles, contributing 4.5 tackles for a loss, a pair of sacks and forced fumbles, an interception and two pass break-ups. The New Smyrna Beach, Fla. native's talents were recognized on a national level on Nov. 5, 2017, when he was named the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week following a heroic performance against Valparaiso that included 10 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and the game-winning interception.
The two are part of seven defensive starters from last season who will take the field for the Dolphins in 2018, as the team looks to build upon a 5-3 conference mark and a 7-4 overall record from the previous year.
After placing third in the league last season, JU was picked to finish sixth out of 10 teams and garnered 47 votes in the 2018 PFL Preseason Coaches Poll, released on Tuesday afternoon by the league. Defending champion San Diego was picked to win the conference once again, taking home 81 votes and nine of 10 possible first-place ballots.
"The production and leadership out of the second level of our defense, including Oporto, will certainly be a key to the improvement we must make moving forward," Shields added. "We have an outstanding trio of linebackers that really love to play. they each compete with tremendous effort, tackle well and fly around the field."
With just over a month until the start of the 2018 regular season, Jacksonville now sets its sights on the start of preseason camp, which begins at the end of the week. The team is set to report on Thursday, Aug. 2, with the year's first practice taking place the following evening.
The Dolphins will take part in 25 practices leading up to their 2018 home opener on Sept. 1 at 1:00 p.m. against Saint Augustine's University. Tickets for the 2018 football season can be purchased here.
Pioneer Football League
|1.||San Diego (9)||81|