Football award winners announced
Sophomore running back Zach Zenner received team Most Valuable Player honors for the South Dakota State University football team at its recent year-end banquet.
A native of Eagan, Minn., Zenner led the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing with 2,044 total yards and an average of 157.2 yards per game, while scoring 13 touchdowns. A consensus All-American and finalist for the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS ranks, Zenner added 28 receptions for 197 yards. He set a school record with a 99-yard touchdown run at Kansas in the 2012 season opener and racked a school-record 295 yards on 33 carrries with three touchdowns in SDSU's 58-10 victory over Eastern Illinois in the first round of the FCS Playoffs.
Senior wide receiver Tyrel Kool was named Offensive MVP after recording a team-best 47 receptions for 592 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Yankton native led the team in receiving for the second time in three seasons after playing running back in 2011. He finished his career sixth in receptions by a Jackrabbit player with 138.
Earning Defensive MVP honors was senior linebacker Ross Shafrath. A native of Hampton, Iowa, Shafrath recorded 150 tackles — an average of 11.54 stops per game that ranked seventh among FCS players. He tallied double figures in tackles nine times, including a career-high 18 in his final collegiate game — a playoff loss at eventual national champion North Dakota State.
Sophomore kicker Justin Syrovatka received the team's Special Teams MVP award after leading the Jackrabbits in scoring with 86 points. The Sioux Falls native made 18-of-22 field goal attempts and 32-of-33 extra-point tries. He made his final 12 field goal attempts of the season, including a career-long 48-yarder against in-state rival South Dakota on Nov. 17.
Three Jackrabbit newcomers were honored as Scout Players of the Year. Freshman tight end Shayne Gottlob received the offensive award, while freshman linebacker Matt Romano was honored on the defensive side. Junior college transfer Rob Diané earned the special teams award.
Rounding out the Jackrabbit award winners were Scholar-Athlete Award recipients and pharmacy majors Brandon Hubert and Alex Olinger. Both players were named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team during the 2012 season. A senior offensive lineman from Ames, Iowa, Olinger was honored on the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Academic First Team. Hubert, a junior wide receiver from Gretna, Neb., was a second-team honoree on the MVFC All-Academic squad.
SDSU, coached by John Stiegelmeier, finished the 2012 season with a 9-4 overall record, including a runner-up mark of 6-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Jackrabbits made their second appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs in the last four years.