SIOUX CITY | Morningside College linebacker Caden McDonald and Dordt College offensive lineman Jacob Cook each received first-team honors on the American Football Coaches Association’s NAIA Coaches All-America football team which has been released.
In addition to McDonald, Coach Steve Ryan’s Great Plains Athletic Conference champions were also represented on the NAIA All-America squad by four second-team selections – running back Bubba Jenkins, wide receiver Connor Niles, offensive lineman Trae Bradburn and punter Spencer Wyant.
These five athletes helped lead Morningside to one of its best seasons in football history. The Mustangs were a perfect 8-0 in the GPAC, reached the NAIA Football Championship Series for the 14th consecutive year, then concluded a 13-1 campaign falling 43-36 to Saint Francis in the playoff semifinals.
A 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior linebacker from Logan, Iowa, McDonald was previously named the GPAC’s defensive player of the year.
McDonald topped Morningside’s defense with 102 tackles (57 solos, 45 assists), which included a team-high 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 54 yards. McDonald also had a team-high five interceptions and two blocked kicks.
Selected as the GPAC defensive player of the week five times as a senior, McDonald had five double-digit tackle performances. He returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown against Tabor and also scored on a 24-yard interception against NCAA Division II Truman State.
Cook, a 6-foot, 305-pound senior from Council Bluffs, Iowa, claimed the All-American honor for his offensive line play. Coach Joel Penner’s Defenders ranked third in the NAIA this season, averaging 290.5 yards rushing.
With Cook on the offensive line, Dordt rushed for 2,905 yards in 2017. The Defenders also rushed for 3,029 yards in 2016 and 3,118 yards in 2015. Cook was a key member of an offense that averaged 35.5 points and 489 yards total offense.
Dordt (5-5) also led the NAIA with eight quarterback sacks allowed.
Bradburn, a 6-2, 285-pound senior offensive tackle from Fort Calhoun, Neb., was a standout for a Morningside offense that led the nation in total yards (575.9) and ranked second in scoring (51.1). His blocking skills helped the Mustangs allow only 11 sacks.
Jenkins, a 5-10, 205-pound senior running back from Springfield, Mo., was the nation’s leading rusher with 2,160 yards for an average of 154.3 yards per game. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 28 touchdowns.
Niles, a 5-11, 195-pound junior from Sioux City, set a school record with 96 catches that went for 1,449 yards and 17 touchdowns. He enters his senior year as Morningside’s all-time leader with 3,700 yards receiving.
Wyant, a 6-1, 205-pound junior from Sergeant Bluff, averaged 42.8 yards per punt. He had a season-long 66-yard punt against Sterling while 21 of his punts resulted in either a fair catch or were downed inside the 20-yard line.
Northwestern tight end J.C. Koerselman, a 6-2, 220-pound senior from Boyden, Iowa, received second-team honors. Koerselman had 46 catches for 543 yards and three touchdowns for a squad that concluded a 10-2 season with a 30-3 quarterfinal loss at Saint Francis.
The GPAC had two other All-American selections, both on the first team. Dakota Wesleyan wide receiver Hayden Adams had 81 catches for 1,472 yards and 18 touchdowns while Doane defensive back Cole Wiseman had six interceptions and 61 tackles.