NEW YORK – Bloomsburg's Franklyn Quiteh went from short-yardage specialist in the preseason to starting tailback on opening day to All-American when his redshirt freshman season was finished.
Quiteh, who led Division II with 2,015 yards rushing, and Central Missouri quarterback Eric Czerniewski, who passed for more than 5,000 yards, were selected to The Associated Press Little All-America team, honoring the top players from Divisions II and III and the NAIA.
Quiteh also led the nation with 22 touchdowns, while Czerniewski was tops in all of college football with 5,207 yards passing and 46 touchdown throws.
Minnesota-Duluth linebacker Kiel Fechtelkotter heads the first-team defense. The senior will lead the Bulldogs into the Division II national title game on Saturday against Delta State.
Wide receiver Cecil Shorts of Division III powerhouse Mount Union made the All-America team as an all-purpose player. The Purple Raiders play Wisconsin-Whitewater for the sixth straight year in the Division III national championship game Saturday.
Quiteh is one of the most unlikely Little All-Americans.
"We were going to use him as our short-yardage tailback, part of a three-man rotation," Bloomsburg coach Danny Hale said. Then a combination of injuries and suspensions to the players ahead of Quiteh pushed him up the depth chart.
"I was the last man standing," he said in a telephone interview. "I was like, 'I guess it's going to happen likes this.' I took it and ran and good things have been happening."
About a week before the opening game, Quiteh got taken off the punt block team. He said that was his first hint he'd been given a promotion.
When it came time to start his first college game, Quiteh was as nervous as he was excited.
"I was shaking all over," he recalled. "I was asking people, 'How's your first hit feel?' Everybody said after your first hit you'll be fine."
Quiteh ran for 140 yards on 35 carries in a 24-14 loss to Ashland, and Hale knew he had found a keeper. "He ran hard and we saw that, wow, he can even get better."
The 5-foot-10, 197-pound Quiteh finished the season with 10 straight games in which he ran for more than 100 yards and helped the Huskies reach the playoffs.
"As the season went on, I started to understand the offense more and became more patient," he said. "When the time comes, I can get physical and I can break away with speed."
Joining Quiteh and Czerniewski in the Little All-American backfield was Michigan Tech's Phil Milbrath. Czerniewski's top target, Jamorris Warren, was one of the All-American wide receivers, along with Fred Williams from St. Cloud State.
Ryan Travis from West Liberty, who led Division II in yards (140.20) and catches (12.6) per game, was the tight end.
Slippery Rock tackle Brandon Fusco, a senior who won the Gene Upshaw Award as the top linemen in Division II, leads the offensive line. He was joined by Cameron Bradfield of Grand Valley State, Brett Grozinger of Northwest Missouri State, Trevis Turner of Abilene Christian, and Koby Parker of Division III Hardin-Simmons.
The defensive line featured Matt Hoffman of Rowan, the only defensive player to be a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy given to D-III's top player. Hoffman had 21½ tackles for loss.
He was joined on the defensive line by Division II standouts Derrin Nettles of Morehouse College, Marc Schiechl of Colorado School of Mines, and Malcolm Jenkins of Elizabeth City State.
Larry Dean of Valdosta State and Matt Wenger of Division III North Central of Illinois joined Fechtelkotter at linebacker.
The secondary featured Valdosta State's Stevie Harden, who returned four of his eight interceptions for touchdowns, and Trinity's Henry Melendez, who led Division III in interceptions with 1.13 per game.
Ryan Jones of Northwest Missouri State and Caleb Singleton of Western Oregon were the other defensive backs. The punter was Ronnie Partridge of Stillman and the kicker was Steve Ivanisevic of Washburn.
Quarterback — Eric Czerniewski, senior, 6-foot, 190 pounds, Central Missouri.
Running backs — Franklyn Quiteh, redshirt freshman, 5-10, 197, Bloomsburg; Phil Milbrath, senior, 5-9, 200, Michigan Tech.
Linemen — Brandon Fusco, senior, 6-5, 305, Slippery Rock; Cameron Bradfield, senior, 6-5, 295, Grand Valley State; Brett Grozinger, senior, 6-4, 285, Northwest Missouri State; Koby Parker, junior, 6-3, 320, Hardin-Simmons; Trevis Turner, junior, 6-7, 335, Abilene Christian.
Receivers — Fred Williams, senior, 6-0, 195, St. Cloud State; Jamorris Warren, senior, 6-1, 195, Central Missouri.
Tight end — Ryan Travis, senior, 6-3, 235, West Liberty.
All-purpose player — Cecil Shorts, senior, 6-2, 210, Mount Union.
Kicker — Steve Ivanisevic, senior, 5-11, 195, Washburn.
Linemen — Derrin Nettles, senior, 6-4, 304, Morehouse College; Marc Schiechl, senior, 6-3, 260, Colorado School of Mines; Malcolm Jenkins, senior, 6-5, 235, Elizabeth City State; Matt Hoffman, senior, 6-3, 215, Rowan.
Linebackers — Larry Dean, senior, 6-0, 216, Valdosta State; Matt Wenger, senior, 6-0, 225, North Central (Ill.); Kiel Fechtelkotter, senior, 6-0, 220, Minnesota-Duluth.
Backs — Ryan Jones, senior, 5-11, 195, Northwest Missouri State; Caleb Singleton, senior, 6-4, 215, Western Oregon; Henry Melendez, senior, 5-10, 200, Trinity, Conn.; Stevie Harden, senior, 5-8, 157, Valdosta State.
Punter — Ronnie Partridge, junior, 5-10, 183, Stillman.
Quarterback — Zach Amedro, senior, West Liberty.
Running backs — Levell Coppage, junior, Wisconsin-Whitewater; Isaac Odim, senior, Minnesota-Duluth.
Linemen — Amini Silatolu, junior, Midwestern State (Texas); Taylor Boggs, senior, Humboldt State; Michael Tribue, senior, Carson-Newman; Matt Weber, senior, Wisconsin-Whitewater; Kyle Thornton, senior, North Alabama.
Tight end — Josh Baker, senior, Northwest Missouri State.
Receivers — Edmund Gates, senior, Abilene Christian; Tyler Beiler, senior, Bridgewater, Va.
All-purpose player — Anthony Stewart, senior, Central Missouri.
Kicker — Gareth Rowlands, senior, Tusculum.
Linemen — Courtney Harris, senior, North Alabama; Chris Mayes, junior, Wesley; Daniel Webb, senior, Emporia State; Aston Whiteside, junior, Abilene Christian.
Linebackers — Travis Brisco, senior, Urbana; Kyle McGivney, junior, Luther; Nate Dreiling, redshirt freshman, Pittsburg State.
Backs — Craig Ray, senior, Indianapolis; Tillman Stevens, senior, Eastern New Mexico; Mike Langhurst, senior, Aurora; Keon Robinson, sophomore, Shepherd.
Punter — Jared Jenkins, senior, Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Quarterback — Ben McLaughlin, senior, Louisiana College.
Running backs — Jim Bower, senior, Marine Maritime; Jesse Lewis, junior, Colorado State-Pueblo.
Linemen — Chandler Rearden, junior, Lenoir-Rhyne; Quintin Borders, senior, Union, Ky.; Dustin Davis, senior, Mary Hardin-Baylor; Orion Matthies, senior, Nebraska-Kearney; Matt Desotell, senior, Michigan Tech.
Tight end — Patrick Mengelkoch, senior, Wisconsin-Stout.
Receivers — Mike Preston, senior, Heidelberg; Joe Hasting, senior, Washburn.
All-purpose player — Stephan Nevllie, junior, Stonehill.
Kicker — Tyler Funk, senior, Carthage.
Linemen — Eddie Vallery, senior, Wittenberg; Seath Kimball, senior, Eastern Oregon; Brandon Williams, sophomore, Missouri Southern State; Maurice Harris, senior, Mars Hill.
Linebackers — Matt Freed, senior, East Stroudsburg; Tressor Baptiste, senior, Texas A&M-Kingsville; Will Hawkins, senior, Millsaps.
Backs — Garrett Williams, senior, Delta State; Jared Millikan, junior, Anderson, Ind.; Ron Parker, senior, Newberry; Jeremy Jones, junior, Wayne State.
Punter — Derek Jambon, junior, Arkansas-Monticello.