History Made – three Dayton players sign football contracts in Europe.
How is it that three players from a championship football team in Ohio ended up signing contracts to play in Europe when none before them in school history ever had?
The University of Dayton has a Div.1-AA winning football tradition with long-tenured coaches and players focused on education first. Last season the Flyer football team honored 72 out of 110 on the roster who carried a 3.0 GPA during football season.
After the 2010 season, several players blessed with great athletic ability did their due diligence of winter workouts and attended Pro Combines where they tested out within a pro-caliber range except for body size. They were not selected in the NFL draft and the labor lock-out did not allow time for team tryouts. Just as on the field these men didn't give up. Their desire to continue playing football led to posting resumes on Europlayers.com. It did not take long for three teams to snap up former student-athletes who excelled in classrooms and on the football field.
The leader and two-time team captain was first to sign in Switzerland with the Calanda Broncos. Steve Valentino was Dayton's leading wide receiver in 2008. He also led in punt and kickoff returns and honored by the League. His receiving ability earned him a 1st Team Offensive Award in the Pioneer Football League (PFL).
In the 2009 season, Steve was asked to move to quarterback after the first game. With 4 days of practice, his effort at QB won him Player of the Week honors and a win for the team. It never stopped until at season's end he was named Offensive Player of the Year by the PFL. He came back in 2010 for an encore performance!
Valentino has great leadership character and whether in football, basketball or baseball, he was a coach on the field. The Junior teams in Chur will certainly learn good skills from Steve. The question there is will his nickname of "Tino" work since the roster already has a player named Tino.
The leading tackler on the Dayton 2010 team was James J. Vercammen, Associated Press FCS All-American selection. Twice he was selected PFL 1st Team All-League.
"JJ" as he was called, played the "Flyer" position – a hybrid where he was a linebacker for suspected runs and a strong safety on passing downs. He was the top tackler (100) on the 2nd best defense against the run in all of FCS football. It was amazing watching him leap over a blocker. Now he'll do his leaping in Sweden with the Orebro Black Knights. He probably will be the best on the kickoff team too.
The second leading tackler on that team was Devon Langhorst, the defensive end. In fact Devon was 2nd in all of FCS football in sacks for 2010 and was an AP All-American selection. He too was 2-time PFL All-League selection. Langhorst signed in Italy with the Reggio Emilia Hogs. Devon is very fast on the pass rush and in great physical shape. He wears down the blockers and often has his best stats in the last quarter of a game.
It is with UD Pride that we look forward to following these three teams and football success of our Euro-Trio, former football Flyers …(the Wright brothers –Wilbur & Orville - invented the first powered airplane at their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio.)
Author: Bill Loeffler
Note: It was brought to our attention that after the 2000 season (before UD football history was digitized) a 1st Team All-Pioneer DB named Marty McNamara played in Sweden for the Limhamn Griffins and he was the first Flyer to play in Europe. Marty lives & works in California now.