Defensive end Danny Batten
repeated on the first team and earned Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors to highlight South Dakota State's selections to the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference Team, which was announced Wednesday.
A senior from Gilbert, Ariz., Batten ranks second in the league with nine sacks, including a career-high three in the regular season finale Nov. 21 at Western Illinois. A Buck Buchanan Award candidate, Batten leads the Jackrabbits with 17 tackles for loss and ranks second with 80 total tackles.
Batten shared the defensive award with Northern Iowa defensive end James Ruffin.
Joining Batten on the first team were linebacker Derek Domino and center Ryan McKnight.
Domino has emerged as the team's leading tackler this season with 88 stops, including eight tackles for loss and two sacks. A junior linebacker from Spring Lake, Park, Minn., Domino also leads the team with five interceptions, two of which he has returned for touchdowns. Four times this season Domino has recorded double digits in tackles.
McKnight, a junior center from Sioux Falls, was the lone SDSU representative on the first team from the offensive side of the ball. He was honored as Missouri Valley Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Jackrabbits' Hobo Day victory over Northern Iowa and is a key part of an offensive unit that has averaged 25.9 points and 342.8 yards of total offense per game.
Five Jackrabbits received second-team honors, led by repeat honorees Glen Fox and Kyle Minett.
Fox finished the regular season tied for fourth in the league rankings for receptions per game with 5.5. His 60 receptions this season are the sixth most by a Jackrabbit receiver, while also contributing 718 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Fox set a single-game career high with 12 receptions for 101 yards against Southern Illinois on Nov. 7.
Minett ranks third in rushing with an average of 106.6 yards per game, tallying 1,173 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns so far in 2009. He has topped the 100-yard mark six times this season, including a season-best 164 yards on 34 carries against North Dakota State. Minett has added 18 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Other second-team selections included strong safety Conrad Kjerstad, offensive lineman Casey Knips and punter Dean Priddy.
Kjerstad, a Wall native, has been the leader in the secondary for a Jackrabbit defensive unit that leads the Football Championship Subdivision in pass efficiency defense. His four interceptions this season are tied for second on the squad, while his 76 tackles rank third.
Knips has held down the starting left tackle spot each of the past two seasons and has been an anchor on an offensive line that has surrendered only 18 sacks in nearly 350 pass attempts. A senior from Adrian, Minn., Knips was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy earlier this fall.
Priddy, a junior from Eden Prairie, Minn., has handled the punting duties each of the last three seasons. In 2009, he ranks second in the league with an average of 41.2 yards per punt, including a career-long 64-yarder. He has landed 17 of his 53 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and booted eight punts at least 50 yards.
Three other SDSU players received honorable mention recognition: tight end Colin Cochart and linebackers Chris Johnson and Jimmy Rogers.
Cochart, a junior from Kewaunee, Wis., ranks fourth on the team with 22 receptions, tallying 212 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a key two-point conversion pass in the Jackrabbits' win over Northern Iowa on Oct. 24.
Both three-year starters at linebacker, Johnson and Rogers rank fourth and sixth, respectively, on the team for tackles. Johnson, a senior from Council Bluffs, Iowa, has notched 71 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, while Rogers, a senior from Chandler, Ariz., has made 59 stops, with five tackles for loss.
South Dakota State, coached by John Stiegelmeier, finished the 2009 regular season with an 8-3 overall record and runner-up finish in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 7-1 mark. The Jackrabbits received an at-large berth in the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs and will open the postseason Saturday at top-seeded Montana. Kickoff is slated for 12:05 p.m. Mountain Time (1:05 p.m. Central) at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Mont.