On Sept. 2, junior running-back Julius Chestnut was named to the 2020 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Preseason All-American Second-Team. According to Sacred Heart Athletics, Chestnut was the only player in the Northeast Conference (NEC) to be named to the Preseason All-American Second-Team.
“My mom told me about the award,” Chestnut said. “I was actually a little surprised. Since I made All-American 3rd team for the 2019 season, I wasn’t expecting to be on the 2nd team. I was also very happy.”
Chestnut is coming off one of the most impressive individual seasons in Sacred Heart football history. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,495 yards, which is the second most in the FCS, which was also the second-highest single season total in SHU history. He also carried the ball 293 times, leading all of FCS, as well as setting a SHU single-season record.
“Coming off of a productive year inspires me to do even better. I love this sport and this is what I want to do in the future,” said Chestnut.
Mark Nofri is going into his eighth season as the Pioneers head coach. Nofri reflects on Chestnut’s honors and hopes that he can carry the momentum into the upcoming season.
“I am happy and proud of Julius. He had a great year last year and proved he is one of the top running backs in the league, and all of FCS. It was well deserved,” said Nofri. “But again this is a new season and new year. I want to see him improve and be even better this year.”
Chestnut was named to the All-NEC First-Team, First-Team All-ECAC, as well as the All-New England team in 2019. Nofri acknowledged Chestnuts on the field honors, as well as his character off the field.
“Great kid. He does all the right things on and off the field. He works hard in the weight room and in the classroom,” said Nofri. “Always has a smile on his face and is glad he is a Pioneer. He has earned the respect of his peers because of his work ethic and leadership skills.”
When it was announced that the 2020 NEC football season was going to be postponed, Chestnut tried to stay positive even though he would need to wait a little longer to start his junior season.
“When I found out the season was being postponed, I was a little crushed. But it didn’t surprise me,” said Chestnut. “With everything going on in the world, I knew it would probably happen. I understand why they did it, but of course I would love to be out there playing and competing.”
Nofri is making sure the team stays in good spirits and is prepared for the upcoming season.
“Everyone, including the coaches and players are disappointed about not playing. Especially when you see other teams on tv playing football. They are trying to stay positive and working out together,” said Nofri. “It could be worse, we could not be at school at all, but we are trying to stay together and improve as a team as much as we can. We will be ready to play, when and if there is a spring season.”
Chestnut hopes to improve off of his sophomore season during the 2020 season.
“I always try to improve my speed. So I have been working more on that,” said Chestnut. “I hope to continue to do well and help my team win as many games as possible and win another NEC Championship!”