ST. LOUIS – Five South Dakota State players were honored Tuesday as members of the 2019 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team. Selections were determined by a vote conducted by the league’s head coaches, sports information directors and a media panel.
Three of the Jackrabbits’ selections came on the defensive side of the ball as Diamond Evans, Michael Griffin II and Quinton Hicks were named to the squad.
Evans, a freshman cornerback from Chicago, moved into the starting lineup midway through the season and tallied 20 tackles with an interception and four pass breakups.
Griffin started 11 of 12 regular season games at safety in his first season in the Jackrabbit lineup after transferring from Southwest Minnesota State. A junior from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, Griffin ranked second on the team with three interceptions, while adding 39 tackles, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.
Hicks emerged as one of SDSU’s top pass-rushers, ranking second on the team with 4 1/2 sacks. A freshman defensive end from Wichita, Kansas, he finished the regular season with 15 total tackles, 5 1/2 of which were for a loss.
On offense, quarterback J’Bore Gibbs and wide receiver Jaxon Janke received accolades.
Gibbs was limited by injuries to six games during his redshirt freshman season, but posted team highs of 1,058 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in regular-season play. The Chicago native completed 58.9 percent (73-of-124) of his passes and threw for three touchdowns in a pair of games. He also scored four rushing touchdowns.
Janke, a redshirt freshman from Madison, ranked third on the squad with 27 receptions and 333 receiving yards, while his four touchdown catches ranked second. He also handled the punt return duties, averaging 10.9 yards on 25 returns, including a 77-yard touchdown in the Sept. 7 home opener against Long Island.
SDSU’s five selections were tied with Illinois State for the most among the 10 league members. A total of 24 players between offense and defense were named to the MVFC All-Newcomer Team.
The MVFC All-Academic Team will be announced today.
The Jackrabbits ended the regular season with an 8-4 record, including a 5-3 mark in the MVFC. SDSU is making its eighth consecutive appearance in the FCS Playoffs and will host league rival Northern Iowa in second-round action Dec. 7. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
2019 MISSOURI VALLEY FOOTBALL CONFERENCE ALL-NEWCOMER TEAM
PK: Matthew Cook, UNI 5-11 175 Fr. Cedar Falls, Iowa
WR: Avante Cox, SIU 5-10 175 So. Rochester, Ill.
WR/FB: Dominique Dafney, InSU 6-3 235 Sr. West Des Moines, Iowa
QB: J’Bore Gibbs, SDSU 6-3 230 Fr. Chicago, Ill.
WR: Jaxon Janke, SDSU 6-2 210 Fr. Madison S.D.
RB: Kobe Johnson, NDSU 5-9 177 Fr. Lawrenceville, Ga.
QB: Trey Lance, NDSU 6-3 221 Fr. Marshall, Minn.
QB: Will McElvain, UNI 5-11 197 Fr. Des Moines, Iowa
RB: Jeff Proctor, IlSU 5-8 195 Jr. Munster, Ind.
WR: Kacper Rutkiewicz, IlSU 5-8 165 Fr. Mount Prospect, Ill.
OL: Adam Solomon, IlSU 6-6 320 Sr. Indianaplos, Ind.
RB: Javon Williams Jr., SIU 6-1 239 Fr. Centralia, Ill.
DB: Omar Brown, UNI 6-1 195 Fr. Minneapolis, Minn.
P: Jack Colquhoun, SIU 6-2 190 Jr. Melbourne, Australia
DB: Keawvis Cummings, InSU 6-0 175 Sr. Tupelo, Miss.
CB: Diamond Evans, SDSU 5-10 195 Fr. Chicago, Ill.
S: Michael Griffin II, SDSU 6-0 215 Jr. Cottage Grove, Minn.
RS/WR: Justin Hall, WIU 5-9 185 Fr. Homewood, Ill.
DE: Quinton Hicks, SDSU 6-3 235 Fr. Wichita, Kan.
S: Clayton Isbell, IlSU 6-2 220 Fr. St. Charles, Ill.
DB: Zaire Jones, YSU 6-0 200 Jr. Meridian, Miss.
LB: Aaron Mens, IlSU 6-0 230 Sr. Kansas City, Mo.
DB: Marquis Smith, WIU 5-11 185 Jr. Ypsilanti, Mich.
LB: Jakari Startling, USD 6-1 210 Fr. Riviera Beach, Fla.