HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … Valparaiso.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country with HERO Sports.
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Valparaiso (2-9 IN 2018)
Pioneer Football League (Valpo finished T7th in 2018)
COACH: Landon Fox – At School: 1st Year Overall: 1st Year
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2003 (PFL Championship Game, defeated Morehead State 54-42)
2018 OFFENSE: 26.4 ppg (71st in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 35.6 ppg (102nd in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 5 @ Drake: This is the conference opener and a great way to build momentum. Valpo went 0-6 on the road last year, making this game an important one to see what kind of improvements the Crusaders have made in the offseason.
SUM IT UP: The Crusaders have only been above .500 once in the 2010s, but it came pretty recently. Valpo went 6-5 in 2017 before dipping back down to 2-9 last year. Landon Fox now steps in as head coach and he has great familiarity with the PFL. Fox was Dayton's defensive coordinator and secondary coach these last 11 years, a program that prides itself on tough defense. Dayton went 86-38 and won three conference titles during Fox's time there.
He inherits a Valpo team that has solid experience coming back but has just as many holes to fill. Six starters return on offense and five are back on defense along with kicker Dimitrios Latsonas and All-Conference return specialist Bailey Gessinger.
Six-foot-5 quarterback Jimmy Seewald enters his senior season fifth in school history with 4,491 career passing yards. The team's leading rusher Kyle Cartales (419 yards, 4 TDs) is back, but the top three pass catchers are gone. All-Conference offensive lineman Jack Jarnigan leads the big fellas up front.
Defensive back Jamari Booker is the top returning tackler (91) and was an All-Conference performer last year. Having a healthy Nick Turner at linebacker will be key for this unit. He battled injuries last season after being named on the All-PFL Second Team in 2017.
OUR TAKE: Valpo showed it can be a competitive program just a couple of years ago, going 5-3 in the PFL during its 6-5 season in 2017. Fox was a great hire as he knows what it takes to be a consistent program in this conference. With about half of its starting lineup needing to be replaced, a huge jump in the standings is a bit premature to predict. But as the Crusaders gain experience and get comfortable playing in the new system, expect this team to be a dangerous one toward the end of the year and build for the 2020 season.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./DB Jamari Booker (All-Conference HM, top returning tackler with 91)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./WR-RS Bailey Gessinger (All-Conference 2nd Team RS, 15 rec. for 216 yards and 1 TD, 39 KR for 954 yards and 2 TDs); Sr./OL Jack Jarnigan (AC HM); Sr./LB Austin Petrie (AC HM, 80 tackles and 9.5 TFLs); Sr./DL James Reed (AC HM, 50 tackles); Sr./LB Nick Turner (2017 AC 2nd Team, played in 4 games last yr. due to injury); Sr./K Dimitrios Latsonas (36-37 PATs); Jr./QB Jimmy Seewald (Veteran starter who battled injuries last year, played in 4 games)
TOP NEWCOMER: Jr./DL Trejuan Purty (ETSU transfer)
THE QUOTE: "Once we got these players to campus, they were able to see what Valparaiso University can provide from both an academic and athletic standpoint, and that made it an easy sell. They’re excited about our football program and they’re also enthusiastic about what Valpo can provide them academically.” — head coach Landon Fox said about the 2019 recruiting class
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Valpo Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The PFL
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast