Bryant QB Zevi Eckhaus Wins NEC Rookie of the Year
Bryant University football quarterback Zevi Eckhaus was named the Northeast Conference Offensive Rookie of the Year and was one of nine Bulldogs to earn All-NEC honors, the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
Eckhaus becomes the first Bulldog to win offensive rookie of the year and is just the second true freshmen in NEC history to earn both rookie of the year honors and First Team All-NEC accolades (Nick Doscher 2009).
He’s joined on the first team by offensive tackle Michael Andrejco, defensive tackle Jack Daly and the Bash Brothers, Ryan Saddler and Joe Andreessen. Bryant’s All-NEC Second Team selections include wide receiver David Zorrilla, offensive tackle Trevor Smith, defensive end Kenny Dyson Jr. and kicker Luke Samperi. Bryant’s nine All-NEC selections are its most since nine earned all-league accolades in 2015.
Nominated for the Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award as the nation’s top freshman, Eckhaus starts his postseason haul in historic fashion. Of the three freshmen QBs to win NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and First Team All-NEC laurels, only Eckhaus is a true 18-year old rookie. Doscher returned to school after a baseball career and was a 21-year old freshman, while RJ Noel was a redshirt freshman in 2013.
Eckhaus was thrust into the bright lights on opening night, taking over in the second half at Rhode Island. He would go on to start the final 10 games of the year, posting a 7-3 record as a starter. Eckhaus completed 62.1 percent (233-of-371) of his passes for 2,392 yards, 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also brought a mobility to Bryant’s QB position, rushing for 242 yards and two scores, finishing his season with an 2,634 yards of total offense. Eckhaus completed 20+ passes in seven of his 10 starts, threw for 300+ in four outings and closed the year with eight-straight games of at least two TD passes. He was at his best over the last two weekends, 51-of-69 passes for 673 yards and six touchdowns as Bryant scored 50+ points in back-to-back games for the first time ever.
Andrejco served as Bryant’s starting left tackle in all 11 games this year and picks up All-NEC honors for the first time in his career. The veteran of Bryant’s offensive unit, Andrejco surpassed the 40-career games plateau this year in helping Bryant lead the league in scoring offense and total offense. Bryant also surrendered just 1.45 sacks per game this season.
Three years into his Bryant career and Jack Daly is putting together one of the best resumes for a defensive lineman in program history, earning All-NEC First Team honors for the second-straight year. Daly was a huge part of a Bryant run defense that allowed just 125 yards per game and allowed just three 100-yard rushers on the year. He posted a career-high 40.0 tackles, adding 7.5 TFLs and two pass breakups. Daly posted at least 2.0 tackles in all 11 games and registered a TFL in six of 11 outings.
Saddler earns All-NEC honors for the first time in his career after posting a team-high 91.0 tackles. After missing all four games in the spring, Saddler returned with a vengeance this fall, averaging 8.3 tackles per game and adding a sack, 6.0 TFLs, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Saddler made at least five tackles in all but one game and poste double-digit tackles on three occasions. He had 12.0 against Akron, 11.0 at Duquesne and a career-high 15.0 against Central Connecticut.
Andreessen formed the other half of the Bash Brothers, finishing with 80.0 tackles to earn All-NEC First Team honors for the second-straight season. Bryant’s starting middle linebacker, Andreessen actually led the NEC with three interceptions and finished with 8.0 TFLs and three additional pass breakups. Andreessen opened the year with a bang, posting 10.0 tackles at URI and posted at least 3.0 tackles in all 11 games. He intercepted his first-career pass at Duquesne and then posted Bryant’s multi-INT game since 2018 with a pair at Wagner. Andreessen collected a season-high 14 stops against Central Connecticut.
Zorrilla earns All-NEC honors for the first time in his career after leading the league in receiving yards per game. He finished the year with 47 receptions (5.2/game) for 623 yards and two TDs. Zorrilla posted 69.2 yards per game and was one of the league’s best wideouts in NEC-only games. In seven league games, Zorrilla caught 37 passes for a league-high 511 yards and two TDs. After missing two games with injury, he returned to catch 44 passes (6.3/game) over the final seven games, posting a pair of 100-yard receiving games.
Smith picks up All-NEC honors for the first in his career after starting all 11 games as Bryant’s right tackle. He helped the Black and Gold led the NEC in both scoring and total offense, while racking up the 15th-most first downs in all of FCS football.
Dyson Jr. is recognized on the All-NEC teams for the first time in his career this fall. One of the most feared rush ends in the NEC, Dyson Jr. posted 35.0 tackles, 7.0 sacks and 12.0 TFLs. He ranked second in the NEC in sacks per game and fourth in TFLs per game. Dyson Jr. posted at least a half sack in six of 11 games and had at least 1.0 TFLs in eight of 11 contests. He enjoyed an unstoppable three-week stretch against Brown, Duquesne and Saint Francis U in which he posted 3.5 sacks and 6.5 TFLs.
Samperi closes out of the highest-scoring career for a Bryant kicker in DI program history with his second All-NEC nod. He made 7-of-10 field goals and 39-of-40 PATs, finishing the year with 60 points. Samperi made a season-long field goal of 41 yards at Marist and closed his career by making his final PATs. As a Bulldog, Samperi finished 22-of-34 (65 percent) on field goals and 97-105 (92 percent) on PATs for 163 points.