Football team announces award winners
Running back Zach Zenner was named the recipient of the Jim Langer Award as team most valuable player and wide receiver Jason Schneider earned a pair of team awards at the South Dakota State University football team’s year-end banquet Saturday night.
A junior from Eagan, Minn., Zenner received the Jim Langer Award for the second consecutive season. Zenner became only the second player in the history of the Football Championship Subdivision to rush for 2,000 yards in two separate seasons, tallying 2,015 yards during the 2013 season. A consensus All-American, Zenner also scored 25 touchdowns — 23 rushing and two receiving — and added 21 receptions for 251 yards.
Schneider, a junior from Andover, Minn., was named the winner of the Adam Timmerman award as offensive MVP and also received the squad’s Scholar-Athlete Award. Schneider set a Jackrabbit single-season record with 78 receptions and became the first SDSU player in the Division I era to top the 1,000-yard mark in receiving with 1,088. He also led the team with 10 touchdown receptions.
A pharmacy major, Schneider earned the Scholar-Athlete Award while maintaining a grade-point average of better than 3.8. He and Zenner were honored on the Capital One Academic All-America First Team during the 2013 season.
Senior linebacker R.C. Kilgore was honored with the Doug Miller Award as team defensive MVP. A native of Cottage Grove, Minn., Kilgore led the Missouri Valley Football Conference in tackles with 134, while adding a team-best seven takeaways — five fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Sophomore punt returner Je Ryan Butler was selected by his teammates and coaches as the recipient of the Adam Vinatieri Award as the squad’s special teams MVP. A native of Tempe, Ariz., Butler took over the punt return duties midway through the season and averaged 11.8 yards on 21 attempts, including an 80-yard touchdown in a double-overtime victory over Northern Iowa. Butler added 31 tackles and shared the team lead with four interceptions from his cornerback position.
Earning the Josh Ranek Effort Award was senior captain Winston Wright. A three-year starter at cornerback, Wright wrapped up his Jackrabbit career in 2013 with 52 tackles, shared the team lead with four interceptions and forced four fumbles.
Three other Jackrabbit players were honored during Saturday’s banquet with scout player of the year awards. The offensive award was presented to freshman running back Brady Mengarelli, while sophomore interior lineman Tory Dibb received the defensive award. Freshman linebacker Mikias Alipate was selected as the special teams honoree.
The Jackrabbits, led by head coach John Stiegelmeier, ended the 2013 season with a 9-5 overall record and made their second consecutive appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. SDSU ended the season ranked 13th in the Sports Network media poll and 14th in the FCS Coaches’ Poll.