AFCA names Olszewski to Division II Coaches’ All-America First Team

AFCA names Olszewski to Division II Coaches’ All-America First Team
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
AFCA names Olszewski to Division II Coaches’ All-America First Team

WACO, Texas -- Bemidji State University football senior corner back Gunner Olszewski brought home his third postseason honor of 2018 as the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) released its Division II Coaches’ All-America Teams Wednesday. Olszewski was one of three Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference student-athletes named to the AFCA All-America First Team.

Olszewski, a senior defensive back from Alvin, Texas, was named the 2018 NSIC Defensive Player of the Year while also being named All-NSIC North Division First Team on both defense and special teams. He finished third on BSU with 63 tackles, including 36 solo tackles, and ranked third with three interceptions in nine games played. Olszewski totaled four pass break ups and 1.5 tackles for a loss of seven yards. As a punt return specialist, Olszewski led the NSIC with 269 punt return yards and 16.8 yards per return, which ranked fifth nationally.

Olszewski finished his career second all-time at BSU with 13 interceptions and 923 punt return yards, and also holds the program record with 183 solo tackles. This is his second appearance on the D2CCA Super Region Four list after earning a spot on the second team defense in 2016. Olszewski continues the recent success of BSU defensive backs as the program has totaled three D2CCA Super Region 4 team selections since 2016.

Bemidji State ended the 2018 season 7-4 overall and has totaled over 30 wins since Olszewski was a freshman in 2015. The Beavers secondary has been one of the nation’s best over the past few seasons, including ranking second nationally in 2018 with 21 interceptions. BSU also finished the season third in the NSIC with a defensive pass efficiency allowed of 107.1.

The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945  until 1967, only one team was chosen. From 1967 through 1971, two teams – University Division and College Division – were selected.  In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II. In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams — FBS  and FCS. In 1996, the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III, respectively. In 2006, the AFCA started  selecting an NAIA-only team.

From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997, a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team. The return specialist position was replaced by an all-purpose player in 2006. In 2016, the AFCA added a second team All-America.

The AFCA’s Division II All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA’s seven districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the  selection committee. The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the teams are chosen.

Members of the AFCA Coaches’ All-America First Team will receive a plaque commemorating their selection to the team,  while members of the Second Team will receive a certificate.

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Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).