SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – Two members of the Jacksonville University football team were named All-Pioneer League First Team and nine players total were recognized by the conference for their performance in 2018.
Nicolas, a true freshman from Florida, N.Y., ascended to a starting role by JU's third game of the season and ran for 718 yards and nine touchdowns, topping the 100-yard mark three times in his final four games of the season. Nicolas accumulated the second-most rushing yards by a freshman in Jacksonville history, trailing only Greg Portee's 747 in 1998.
Dempsey, an All-PFL Honorable Mention a year ago, helped pave the way for the third ranked rushing offense in the FCS. The senior from Bunnell, Fla. was a fixture up front in his JU career, playing in 40 career games and starting the last 31 he appeared in. He helped clear a path for not only Nicolas, but quarterback Calvin Turner Jr., who rushed for 1,431 yards, and two-time 100-yard rusher Irvin Riley as well.
Additionally, Jacksonville had seven players earn All-PFL Honorable Mention distinction. Senior linebackers Thomas Oporto, redshirt-junior kicker Javier Arce-Ramirez, junior cornerback CJ Lewis, linebacker Caysaun Wakeley and defensive tackle Crandall Maines, redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Dane Cordell and sophomore quarterback Turner Jr. all made the list.
Oporto, a three-year starter, first at free safety and later at Will linebacker, led the team in tackles for a loss with eight, while finishing second in total tackles with 55.
Arce-Ramirez did not miss a kick this season, the first kicker in JU history to go perfect. He made all four of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 49 yarder. He also connected on all 34 of his PAT attempts.
Lewis led the Dolphins in passes defensed with eight, including two interceptions to bring his career INT total to seven. He also registered 35 tackles, good for fifth-best on the team.
Wakeley finished third on the team with 54 tackles, including three for a loss, and four pass breakups, good for second most on the team. He also recorded his second career interception.
Maines, a junior from Naples, Fla., stepped into a full-time starting role this season and saw his production reflect the increased responsibility, as he racked up the fourth-most tackles on the team, 42, and made the second most stops for loss, with 4.5.
Cordell took over as the starting center and anchored the middle of the line that helped pave the way for the second-best rushing attack in the PFL and blocked for a school-record three 100-yard rushers in one game vs. Butler.
Turner Jr. had big shoes to fill at quarterback this year, and a season after earning All-PFL Honorable Mention accolades as a cornerback, successfully made the transition back to offense. He was the point man for the dynamic rushing attack, finishing just 36 yards shy of the school's all-time single-season rushing mark. Turner Jr. did set several school records, including rushing yards per game (143.1), rushing touchdowns (17) and yards per carry (6.9). He became the first Dolphin ball carrier to rush for over 200 yards in a game since 2012, doing so twice. He also finished third in the FCS in rushing yards per game, third in rushing TDs, fourth in total rushing yards, and 11th in yards per carry.