Football | Friday, April 11, 2014
Four Bearcat Football Players Sign Contracts to Play in Germany
Giza, Dean, Johnston and Pastorino Continue Willamette Pipeline to Europe
SALEM, ORE. -- Former Willamette University football players Tyson Giza (CB/KR, Salem, OR/Sprague HS), Josh Dean (QB, Dana Point, CA/Dana Hills HS) and Ryan Johnston (WR, The Dalles, OR/The Dalles Wahtonka HS), as well as alumnus Cody Pastorino ('13) have all signed contracts to play professional football this coming year with clubs at varying levels of the German Football League (GFL).
"A number of former Bearcats have gone on to play football overseas in recent years," Giza said. "[They] paved the way for guys like Josh [Dean], Cody Pastorino, Ryan Johnston, and myself to play this year."
Giza, who signed with the Hamburg Huskies of the GFL's second division, was named Third Team All-America as a kick return specialist by the Beyond Sports Network in 2013. He was also selected Third Team All-West Region by D3football.com and First Team All-Northwest Conference as both a cornerback and a kick returner.
Giza previously earned Second Team All-NWC honors at defensive back in 2012 and was an Honorable Mention selection in 2011.
He returned 20 kickoffs for a total of 573 yards this season to average 28.7 yards per return with two touchdowns. His kickoff return average ranked him first in the Northwest Conference and 17th in NCAA Division III.
On defense, Giza earned 42 total tackles this season, including 33 unassisted. He concluded his career with 110 total tackles on 77 solo tackles and 33 assists.
He led the Bearcats and ranked second in the NWC with four interceptions this fall, which he returned a total of 70 yards. He also led Willamette with 11 pass break-ups. Among all players on the 242 teams in NCAA Division III, Giza ranked 13th in passes defended per game with 15 in nine games (1.7 avg.).
During his Willamette career, Giza gained a school record 1,537 kickoff return yards. He broke the previous record of 1,348 set by Jose Green ('11) from 2007-10. He also accumulated 13 interceptions 24 pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one blocked kick in 37 games played.
He is the second Willamette player in as many years to sign with the Huskies, following Dominic David ('12), who played for Hamburg last season.
"Tyson has been a fantastic player for us," Willamette Head Coach Glen Fowles said. "He is one of the most gifted athletes we have had at Willamette and is a fierce competitor."
In contrast to his career at Willamette, Giza will primarily play on offense for Hamburg. Former Willamette assistant coach Timothy Speckman is the Huskies' offensive coordinator.
Dean has signed to play quarterback with the Osnabrück Tigers, who compete in Germany's third division. The Tigers' head coach and offensive coordinator is current Willamette running backs coach Danny Mitchell ('12).
In 2013, Dean was named Second Team All-NWC for the second year in a row, while also being chosen First Team Capital One Academic All-District.
His 28 passing touchdowns led the NWC and ranked eighth in NCAA Division III. Additionally, Dean ranked ninth in Division III in points responsible for per game (21.8) and set a Willamette record with seven touchdown passes in the Bearcats' 56-30 Wagon Wheel Game victory at Lewis & Clark College on Oct. 19.
Dean set all of Willamette's single season passing records in 2012, completing 273 of 422 passes for 3,345 yards and 34 touchdowns. He concluded the season ranked third in the nation in NCAA Division III in passing yards, fifth in passing yards per game (334.5), sixth in total offense per game (351.6 yards) and sixth in completions per game (27.3).
He finished his career with 468 completed passes on 729 attempts for 5,877 yards and 62 touchdowns.
Johnston signed with the Lübeck Seals, who also play in the German third tier, on March 4. Like the Huskies, the Seals have made a habit of signing former Bearcats, as Green and Jamiere Abney ('11) each played for Lübeck last year.
Johnston contributed on both offense and special teams for Willamette, playing in a total of 26 games during his career. He earned 10 career tackles (six solo) on kick or punt return coverage, while also catching a 20-yard touchdown pass in WU's 50-21 victory over Whitworth last year.
Bearcat alum Cody Pastorino ('13), who served as Willamette's linebackers coach this past season, will resume his playing career with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the GFL first division.
Pastorino played defensive back at WU for four seasons, earning First Team All-West Region and Second Team All-America honors in 2012. He was named First Team All-NWC in 2011 and 2012, and was selected Second Team All-NWC in 2010.
He made 169 tackles during his Willamette career, including 111 solo stops. He also achieved 11 interceptions, 14 pass break-ups and seven blocked kicks. In 2013, Pastorino made 62 tackles, led Willamette with five interceptions, and broke up six other passes. He graduated from WU in 2013 with a degree in Exercise Science.
"Cody is the type of player every coach wants," Fowles said. "He is a naturally gifted athlete that has a real 'feel' for the game of football."
The Unicorns are one of Germany's most successful clubs, winning the national championship, the German Bowl, in 2011 and 2012.
While all the Bearcats are looking forward to playing professional football, the opportunity to experience an entirely different culture was another factor that impacted their decision to go overseas.
"Football is my number one priority and I hope to bring a GFL championship to Hamburg," Giza said. "But you can't help looking forward to traveling around such a beautiful city like Hamburg that has so much to offer."