Francis Named State Defensive Lineman of the Year

RICHMOND, Va. – Bridgewater College senior defensive lineman Joel Francis was tabbed as the College Division Defensive Lineman of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Richmond and will be honored for his accomplishments on Wednesday, December 5 at the Dudley Award banquet at the Hilton Richmond Hotel.

Francis is the second player for the Eagles in three seasons to be named one of the top players at their respective position in the Division II, III, NAIA and USCAA ranks after Tyler Beiler's selection as the state's top wide receiver and as the Lanier Award winner in 2010.

Last week, Francis was named the Lou Wacker Defensive Player of the Year by the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) and also picked up first team all-conference accolades.

Francis turned in a stellar senior season for the Bridgewater Eagles football team cracking the top five in the ODAC in sacks and tackles for a loss. Francis ranked in a tie for fifth in the league in sacks among defensive linemen with 4.5 and led the conference in tackles for a loss among defensive linemen with 12.5.

Overall, the Woodbridge, Va. native finished in a tie for sixth in the league in sacks and was ranked third in tackles for a loss. Francis also forced one fumble on the season and accounted for a score with a safety in Bridgewater's season opening victory at St. Vincent.

On the year, Francis amassed 55 tackles which led the league among defensive linemen and ranked him in a tie for 23rd in the league overall.

Francis ranks sixth in program history in tackles for a loss with 33.5 and is seventh all-time in sacks with 12.5.

Aside from his play on the field, Francis is also the student body president for the College and served as a member of the Bridgewater Strategic Planning Committee which helped develop a course for the college for the next decade.

The Dudley Award banquet is open to the public and will be held Wednesday, December 5 at the Hilton Richmond Hotel with a pre-banquet social at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $40 each and may be purchased by contacting Rudy Ward, 804-551-0980, or by emailing the Touchdown Club of Richmond at

The Dudley Award is named for the late Bill Dudley, and NFL Hall of Famer who starred at Virginia while the Lanier Award is named for Willie Lanier, also an NFL Hall of Famer who graduated from Richmond's Maggie Walker High School.

The Touchdown Club of Richmond is a sport-social organization that serves to promote the best interests of the American game of football and sports in general, under the guidance of elected officers with the predominate purpose being to recognize worthy athletes for their accomplishments and to encourage them to continue their education and athletic careers.

Francis and the Eagles finished the season with a 7-3 overall record.