ST. LOUIS — Four South Dakota State players, led by Freshman of the Year Austin Sumner, have been selected to the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team, which was announced Tuesday. The 24-player squad was selected by voting conducted among the league’s nine head coaches, sports information directors and a media panel.
A 6-foot-5, 230-pound redshirt freshman from Brandon, Sumner started the final eight games at quarterback for the Jackrabbits and set a conference freshman record with 2,382 yards. He completed 59.7 percent (182-of-305) of his passes, throwing for 16 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. One of 20 finalists for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, which will be awarded in January to the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision, Sumner passed for at least 200 yards in each of his last seven starts and topped the 300-yard mark five times.
Joining Sumner on the all-newcomer squad from the offensive side of the ball were wide receiver Dale Moss and running back/return specialist Zach Zenner.
Moss, who was named to the all-MVFC Second Team on Monday, led the league with an average of 86.3 receiving yards per game and was part of a three-way tie for second place in receptions per game with 5.5. In his lone season playing football, the senior from Brandon tied for the team lead with 61 receptions and led the squad with 949 receiving yards (15.6 yards per catch), while also catching six touchdowns.
Zenner ranked third among MVFC players in all-purpose yards with an average of 123.1 yards per game. A redshirt freshman from Eagan, Minn., Zenner led the team with 754 yards on kickoff returns (24.3-yard average), ranked second on the squad with 470 rushing yards and added 18 receptions for 130 yards. He also scored five touchdowns — three rushing and two receiving.
Rounding out the Jackrabbit selections was senior punter Jason Schlautman. A senior from Columbus, Neb., and a transfer from Nebraska-Omaha, Schlautman was the lone player from SDSU to earn first-team all-conference recognition. During the 2011 season, Schlautman led the league with an average of 42.2 yards per punt. He recorded 14 punts of 50 or more yards, including a season-long of 63 yards.
Illinois State led with five all-newcomer selections, followed by the Jackrabbits’ four honorees.
South Dakota State finished the 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record, including a 4-4 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference to finish in a tie for fourth place.