ST. LOUIS, Mo. – University of Dayton redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Cook was named the 2018 Pioneer Football League's Freshman Offensive Player of the Year today as part of the PFL's major awards announcement.
Cook, a redshirt freshman from Cranberry Township, Pa., was thrust into the starting quarterback role after redshirt senior and four-year starter Alex Jeske tore his ACL in the first quarter of the season's first game. Cook's first two starts came against teams that not only reached the FCS playoffs this season, but they both won their first-round game.
He led all FCS freshmen in passing efficiency (155.5, 8th overall) and was ranked third among all FCS freshmen in passing yardage (2,421) and passing touchdowns (20).
One of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, which goes to the top freshman in FCS football, Cook was 170 of 280 passing (.607) for 2,421 yards and 20 touchdowns (with just two interceptions) for the year. Both of his interceptions were in late-game desperation downfield situations. The yardage mark was the second-best single-season mark in UD history, and the passing TD's were third.
Cook was also Dayton's second-leading rusher, with 421 net yards on 91 attempts. (4.6 avg.). He ran for eight touchdowns.
In the PFL, Cook is fourth in the PFL in total offense per game (258.5). The next closest freshman is Stetson running back Jareem Westcott at 78.2. Cook is also fifth in passing yards per game (220.2) behind seniors Anthony Lawrence of San Diego, Colin McGovern of Stetson, Grant Kraemer of Drake and Will Marty of Butler.
Cook had two-record-breaking days this season. At San Diego, Cook threw for a UD-record 432 yards (29 of 40) and had a hand in all five Flyer TD's (4 passing, 1 rushing). At Butler, he tied his current position coach, Kevin Hoyng, for the UD record for touchdown passes in a game (5). Cook completed 16 of 19 passes for 254 yards in that game.
He is the second Flyer freshman to earn a PFL major award. Back in 2008, defensive back Joe Castaneda was PFL Freshman of the Year when the league only recognized one freshman each season.
The 2018 All-PFL teams will be announced Tuesday, and the league's academic awards will come Wednesday.