The Salukis have taken two more spots on the College Football Performance Awards watch list for the upcoming season.
Junior tight end MyCole Pruitt, senior punter Austin Pucylowski and senior linebacker Bryan Presume were chosen for the College Football Performance Awards watch list. According to the website, the CFPA uses scientific research to determine which players will increase effectiveness for their teams. Some elite players have been chosen as award winners such as Montee Ball and Von Miller, now members of the Denver Broncos.
Pruitt, a mechanical engineering major from St. Louis, was also named to the Sports Network’s Football Championship Subdivision Preseason All-American Second Team last week. The FCS is one level below the Football Bowl Subdivision, which is the highest level of collegiate football.
This is also the second time Pruitt was selected to the CFPA tight end award watch list. He was also a CFPA tight end performer of the week once and named an honorable mention four times last season.
Last season, Pruitt led the Saluki receivers with 49 receptions and four touchdowns. He also had 577 receiving yards, the fourth most in the country among tight ends.
At 250 pounds, Pruitt’s size is difficult for many defenders to match up with, enabling him to bully players that try to defend him. Pruitt said he likes that his offense can exploit a defense because of his size and he hopes they can continue to do that.
“Whether it’s a corner, a safety or a linebacker, I’m a match up problem for any position,” Pruitt said.
After starting as a red-shirt freshman, Pruitt has become successful during his time as a Saluki. He began to collect awards in his very next season, getting honorable mention on the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Conference Team, placing on the MVFC All- Newcomer Team and being voted team receiver MVP by his teammates.
Pruitt said it feels good that his team has his back and knows they can rely on him.
“They know that I’m a guy that they can count on,” Pruitt said.
Presume, a sports administration major from Kennesaw, Ga., led the Saluki defense with 78 tackles last season, 28 of them solo tackles. He had a career high of 11 tackles against North Dakota State University. In a game against the University of Northern Iowa, Presume set a school record with a 100-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and was chosen as the FCS Linebacker Performer of the Week by the CFPA for that game.
Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Bubba Schweigert works closely with Presume on defense, but also works with Pruitt and Pucylowski.
Schweigert said his players can always get better and it’s about getting them ready to perform the best they can. Individual recognition is also great for the program and the team, he said.
“We keep challenging our guys to get better and better each year,” Schweigert said.
Pucylowski, a biological sciences major from New Berlin, Wis., is making his first appearance on the CFPA watch list. He was named an honorable mention on the MVFC team last season and was selected to the College Sports Journal FCS All- Academic Team.
Pucylowski had 71 punts last season, the second most in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Those 71 punts put him at 2,855 punting yards for the season, the ninth most in the university’s history. Presume was also ranked 20th nationally with a net punting average of 36.7 yards.
Though the university has given him a chance at success, Pucylowski almost decided to play at another university.
Pucylowski said when he was deciding on where to continue his football career, it came down to campus visits. After visiting SIU and Illinois State University, he made his decision based on playing time, he said. Since receiving awards has been normal for Pucylowski during his time as a Saluki, that decision seems to have paid off.
In January, he was named to the Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star Team. The 121 schools in the FCS were able to nominate no more than two student-athletes. Only 54 student-athletes in the country are awarded this honor.
Even though the watch list is an individual honor, Pucylowski said he thinks other special teams players should get more credit since success is a team effort. He said many players on the punt team and offensive linemen don’t get as much recognition compared to the abundance of recognition other players receive.
“It wasn’t just me who got the award,” Pucylowski said. “It was everyone.”