Running Back Shea Dwyer '10 (#5, main photo by Don Chapin P'09) became just the second Wesleyan player to receive the distinction of Gagliardi Trophy finalist when the 10 players still eligible for Division III's version of the Heisman Trophy were announced November 23. In total, 26 players were nominated for the coveted award before the Gagliardi committee narrowed the choice to 10. Dwyer joins Wesleyan receiver Matt Perceval '00, who was a Gagliardi Trophy finalist during the 1999 season.
To see the breakdown of the 10 Gagliardi Trophy finalists on d3football.com how fans were allowed to become part of the voting for the winner, please click < here >. On Wed., Dec. 1, the final four individuals still in the running for the Gagliardi Trophy were announced and Dwyer was not among them. Still, the committee announced that eight of the 10 finalists received at least one first-place vote from the 35 voting members of the organization while the other two got at least one second-place tally.
Placing six players on the all-NESCAC squads in 2010, Wesleyan matched the largest number of conference honorees in school history but set a record for the most first- and second-team choices. Named to the all-NESCAC first team were Dwyer, offensive lineman a team tri-captain Nick Seara '11 (#60, photo insert lower right) and linebacker Cyprian Oyomba '12 (#28, photo insert upper left). Gaining a spot on the second team were defensive back and team tri-captain Justin Freres '11, offensive lineman Zach Sadler '11 and punter Kyle Weiss '12.
In both 2002 and 2000, Wesleyan had six individuals receive all-NESCAC football honors but that included NESCAC Rookie of the Year in both cases as the Cardinals had five players named to the first- and second-teams.
Both Dwyer and Oyomba were conference leaders in their specialities, running the ball and making tackles, respectively. Dwyer paced the NESCAC in rushing yards with 1,242, a school record ; set a Wesleyan record for yards in a game (255 vs. Colby) ; was twice named NESCAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week ; and was a Gridiron Club of Greater Boston weekly Gold Helmet Award winner. He ranked fourth in NCAA Division III for rushing yards per game (155.2) and was sixth nationally among all NCAA running backs. Dwyer, who had just 692 career rushing yards coming into the 2010 campaign, scored 12 TDs, 11 of them on the ground. He ended his career with 1,934 career rushing yards and 20 TDs. Dwyer also was named a Division II/III all-star by the New England Football Writers Association.
Oyomba, a NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week this season, racked up 80 tackles in 2010, tying for the NESCAC lead which posting 24 more tackles than the next nearest Cardinal. It was the second time in three years that Oyomba has topped the list for Wesleyan as his 76 stops in 2008 was a team high. He has 202 career tackles, 18.5 for a loss with 5.5 sacks.
Center Seara, a second-team all-NESCAC pick in 2009, and Sadler were integral in making holes for Dwyer throughout the season. Wesleyan churned an average of 200.6 yards a game rushing, ranking second in the conference. The last Wesleyan team to average at least 200 yards a game on the ground was the squad of 1993 (225.3). Wesleyan collected over 350 yards a game in total offense and averaged 23.5 points a game.
Freres repeated as an all-NESCAC second-teamer as he came through with 56 tackles and a team-leading three interceptions in 2010. He led the Cardinals in tackles a year ago with 76 and now has 192 career stops with nine interceptions.
Weiss ranked second in the conference for punting average with a 37.1 figure on 34 boots. He had a long punt of 60 yards and put five kicks inside the 20-yard line. Also the team's starting punter in 2009, Weiss had a 30.3 average with a long of 64 and 15 of 52 attempts inside the 20. Weiss plays receiver as well and led the Cardinals in receptions in 2010 with 22 for 175 yards.
Wesleyan posted a 4-4 mark in 2010 with victories over Hamilton, Colby, Bates and Bowdoin. Games with Middlebury and Trinity came down to the final possession before being decided while Little Three rivals Amherst and Williams prevailed with comfortable margins. Of the 33 players most active throughout the campaign, 22 should be back for the 2011 season along with a host of other talented athletes expected to move into more regular roles.