PHILADELPHIA- The University of Delaware football squad continued to haul in pre-season accolades this week as senior Gino Gradkowski and sophomore Andrew Pierce were both named to The Sports Network Pre-Season All-American team.
The pre-season TSN team consisted of 84 players on three teams led by 11 returning players who were voted to the All-America first team at the end of the 2010 regular season by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
Defending national champion Eastern Washington and national semifinalist Georgia Southern each placed five players on the pre-season squad. Gradkowski, an offensive guard from Pittsburgh, Pa. (Seton-LaSalle High School), and Pierce, a running back from Bridgeton, N.J. (Cumberland Regional HS), were each selected to the second team.
A total of 10 Colonial Athletic Association players were selected to the two teams, including first teamers in linebacker Tyler Holmes (Massachusetts), William & Mary running Jonathan Grimes and tight end Alex Gottlieb, and New Hampshire linebacker Matt Evans, second teamers in Gradkowski, Pierce, Richmond fullback Kendall Gaskins, New Hampshire defensive end Brian McNally, and Old Dominion punter Jonathan Pilsco, and third teamer Dante Cook, a linebacker from William & Mary. The honor is not the first for Gradkowski and Pierce this summer.
Gradkowski was named a pre-season Consensus Draft Services first team All-American as well as a Phil Steele College Football Preview first team All-American while Pierce, who earlier this month was named a candidate for the Walter Payton National Player of the Year Award, was honored as a pre-season second team All-American by Consensus Draft Services and a third team pick by Phil Steele.
Both UD players made outstanding contributions to the 2010 squad, leading the Blue Hens to a record of a 12-3, a share of the CAA title, and a berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national championship game last season for head coach K.C. Keeler. Keeler was named the AFCA National Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Pierce was one of the nation's top freshman during the 2010 campaign when he earned National Freshman of the Year honors by Phil Steele College Football Yearbook, third team The Sports Network All-American honors, College Sporting News All-American honors, and College Sporting News Co-Freshman of the Year laurels.
The sophomore from Bridgeton, N.J. (Cumberland Regional HS) was also named the ECAC All-East Rookie of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, and first team All-CAA as he rushed for 1,655 yards and 14 touchdowns and surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in seven games. Gradkowski earned second team All-American honors by Phil Steele College Football Yearbook and was a first team All-CAA and first team All-East (ECAC) selection a year ago when he helped Delaware average 27.9 points, 184.4 rushing yards per game, and 401.8 total yards per game to rank among the league leaders a year ago.
The Hens will open pre-season camp Aug. 8 in preparation for the season opener Sept. 3 at Navy and the home opener Sept. 10 vs. West Chester.
Season ticket packages, discounted ticket packs, and single season tickets are currently available. Go to the "Tickets" banner on the Delaware athletics website at www.bluehens.com for more information on how to order.