Twelve Lafayette Football Players receive All-Patriot League Honors, three with academic honors

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Senior Malik Hamm (#99) led the 12 Leopards who received All-Patriot League Honors this season. (Photo courtesy of Cole Jacobson ’24)

Issy Bongiovanni, Contributing Writer

Twelve Lafayette football players earned All-Patriot League Honors this past Tuesday, which included four first-team and eight second-team selections. 

Senior team captain and defensive lineman Malik Hamm received the third All-Patriot League First-Team honor of his career. Paired with Hamm’s PL second-team selection his freshman year, he now has a spot on the list of 24 Patriot League football student-athletes to earn All-League honors four times.

Hamm, who was under-recruited in high school, said he chose Lafayette because “it was an amazing feeling, just knowing that you have people that believe in you and believe that you can be great at the next level.”

In his rookie season, Hamm earned Patriot League Defensive Rookie of the year in addition to All-Patriot League Second-team. He went on to win the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019 and be named to the All-Patriot League First-Team for three consecutive seasons. He started in 35 of 37 career games and ended his career with a total of 23.5 sacks, making him second all-time in sacks at Lafayette. Hamm also ranks second in tackles on the team as well as tackles for loss with 64 and 7.5, respectively.

Despite his many accolades, Hamm said his greatest accomplishment was being a team captain for his senior year.

“That award is not based off of what you do on the field. It’s mostly to do with what you do off the field, what type of leader you are, what type of character you have, and how you make the people around you feel,” Hamm said. “I think that that’s one of the hardest awards that you can get, especially as a player because it’s so dependent on what your teammates think of you and just to know that they think of me as a leader, that was an amazing experience.”

Junior linebacker Marco Olivas ended this season as one of the top linebackers in the Patriot League. Olivas started in all eleven games this season, ranking as sixth in the nation in total tackles and 14th in the nation with 59 solo tackles. In addition to Olivas’ athletic accomplishments, he garnered Academic All-Patriot League honors.

Olivas considers receiving first team All-Patriot League the biggest accomplishment in his career thus far and hopes to accomplish even more in his fourth year on the team for the 2022 season.

Olivas balances his athletic efforts with being an innovative engineer and posting a 3.66 GPA, which he said can be a struggle.

“It definitely pushes you to figure out how to organize and prioritize your time, but it’s definitely possible. People have been doing it here for years. You just got to find a rhythm and a routine and you’ll be fine,” Olivas said.

Olivas described his mindset as “never satisfied” and explained, “you want to get higher and higher. You want to get the best award you can get.”

Two offensive players, senior tight end Steven Stilianos and sophomore fullback and halfback Mason Gilbert also received All-Patriot League First-Team status.

Stilianos played in four games and finished third on the team with 21 receptions for 130 yards.

Gilbert validated his preseason All-Patriot League selection by starting in nine of eleven games and finishing fourth on the team with seventeen receptions for 139 yards.

The Leopards on the All-Patriot League Second-Team offense are senior running back and captain Selwyn Simpson, Junior running back Jaden Sutton, Junior wide receiver Julius Young, Senior captain Gavin Barclay and Freshman placekicker Micah Pettit.

Simpson led the team with 450 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. This newest honor follows his previous honors of first team in the spring 2021 season and second team in 2019.  

Sutton, ended the season second on the team in rushing, totaling 398 yards and three touchdowns, as well as five catches for 54 yards. He also spent time on the kick return unit.

Young led the team with 46 catches for 651 yards and three touchdowns. He had 12 catches of 20 or more yards.

Barclay has been on the All-Patriot League Second-Team his past three seasons. He started in every game on the offensive line for the past five seasons, holding the Lafayette record for career games played, including 48 games started.

Off the field, Barclay posts a 3.48 GPA in biology, earning him an Academic All-League Team honor this season.

Pettit was one of just three freshmen to achieve conference honors. Pettit converted 10-of-15 field goals in his first season, connected on all five of his tries from 40-49 yards, including a career-long 49-yard field goal that was the fourth-longest kick in school history and longest since 2010. Pettit also converted all 20 of his PATs.

The three second-team Patriot League honors for the Leopards went to senior defensive players Major Jordan and Ian Grayson, as well as junior defensive back DaRon Gilbert.

This is Jordan’s second year as a team captain and his third All-Patriot League Second-Team level honor. It was also his third straight Academic All-Patriot League honor, making him one of just 14 Patriot League student-athletes to do so. Jordan is an engineering major and has a 3.63 GPA.

Jordan had to miss five games during the heart of the season due to a broken wrist, proceeding to play the final four games with a cast.

Jordan, despite his injuries, still managed to play in 40 games with 33 starts throughout his career. Jordan finished with 46 tackles on the season and added a 50-yard pick-six at Holy Cross. 

Grayson was another player who battled a series of injuries, yet managed to start in 10 of 11 games this season, totaling 23 of 26 games in his career. Grayson had 23 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss.

Gilbert also started in 10 of 11 games at safety for the Leopards and attained the first All-Patriot League recognition of his career. Gilbert made 49 tackles to finish sixth on the team in stops from his secondary spot. Over the course of three seasons, Gilbert has played 22 career games with 19 starts.

Olivas reflected on the season, which ended 3-8, and noted the locked potential of the team.

“We had all the tools necessary to win, and at times during games, it seemed like we were close, but we didn’t do it. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how close you are. If you didn’t do it, you didn’t do it,” Olivas said.

While the season did not go as the team had hoped, Hamm described the good that came out of this year.

“Whenever you don’t achieve your goals it’s always hard, but at the end of the day we still were able to form those family relationships that’s going to last a long time,” Hamm said. “Although we always wanted a Patriot League Championship, being able to be here with these people for four years and grow with them was an amazing experience.”