Dalton Ponchillia was the leading receiver for the brand new Buccaneer football team last season, and so far into the 2016 season, is keeping with this trend.

Ponchillia transferred in from Mercer University, where he also played football, but his decision to transfer was not solely for his sport.

ETSU offered his desired exercise science major, and being a native of Nashville, he wanted to be a little closer to home.

Ponchillia said the team at Mercer was young, very much like the Bucs when he came in, but felt that the overall attitude of ETSU was better.

“We’ve really become close, like a family here, and everybody has stayed positive even when things get rough,” Ponchillia said.

He and his teammates are more grateful and excited for the opportunity to be on this starting football team, and that shows in their treatment and encouragement of one another.

Head Coach Carl Torbush is excited that Ponchillia has another year left in him, and is ready for his experience and talent to spread to the rest of the team.

“He doesn’t talk a great deal, he’s a quiet guy,” Torbush said. “But at the same time, the players respect him, so when he does speak, they listen.”

In the 2015 season, Ponchillia had 509 yards and three touchdowns.

For the 2016 season, he is currently leading the team in yardage, with 165 yards and one touchdown.

Going into this year, it was not really about personal improvement to Ponchillia.

“I don’t look at my personal stuff too much,” Ponchillia said. “I just try to do what the coaches need me to do week in and week out and help the team out as much as I can.”

Not only is he excelling in football, but academically as well. For the 2015 football season, he was named to the SoCon Academic Honor Roll. Taking on school with a demanding major like exercise science with a sport that seemingly takes up so much time is difficult, but Ponchillia seems to have found that balance.

“You just have to make sure you spend as much time as you need academically still,” Ponchillia said.

Torbush expects the No. 16 wide receiver to step up even further in his leadership on and off the field, being amongst the older crowd on a predominantly young team.

“He’s not only a really good football player but an outstanding leader,” Torbush said. “He gives great effort, he does things right socially and academically.”