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Cougars get Northern Sun Conference honors

by
University of Sioux Falls
University of Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, SD (KWSN-AM)  Another year in the books, another host of honors for the Cougars. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference announced its All-NSIC team on Tuesday and the Cougars (6-5, 4-3 NSIC South) find themselves making their marks on the first, second and honorable mention squads. 

“I was happy to once again see so many guys recognized by the league office, especially the three seniors,” said fourth-year head coach Jed Stugart. “It excited me to see the intensity and emotion and how they cared so much about beating Wayne State last Saturday to give the program a winning record for the 20th year in a row.”

Headlining the NSIC South Division first team offense for the Cougars is senior wide receiver Carrington Hanna. A 2012 NSIC South second teamer, Hanna caught 44 passes for 491 yards (11.2 per catch) and three touchdowns. Despite playing only three years at USF and two full seasons at the slot receiver position, Hanna finished his receiving career with 1,460 yards and 14 scores. 

Sophomore defensive back John Tidwell (Aurora, Colo.) earned his first career all-conference honor, as he is the Cougars’ only NSIC South first team defense representative. A graduate of Rangeview HS, Tidwell was credited with 56 tackles (42 solo), 3.5 TFL for seven yards and two interceptions this season. He ranked sixth in the NSIC with 12 passes defended and also tallied a team-best 10 pass break-ups. 

Hanna proved that his 2013 NSIC South Offensive Preseason Player of the Year nod was well deserved, as the Streetsboro (Ohio) native was also named the NSIC South second team quarterback. Hanna is the first player in the history of the NSIC (records dating to 1973) to be selected as both an all-conference wide receiver and all-conference quarterback in the same year. Hanna moved under center halfway through the season due to an injury to starting quarterback Luke Papilion and went 99-for-162 for 1,085 yards (125.5 pass efficiency). He threw seven touchdowns and was picked off five times in the Cougars’ final five games.  

Hanna began his Cougar career (2011) as Coach Stugart’s starting quarterback and leaves career marks of 165 completions-on-291 attempts with 15 passing touchdowns to go with 16 picks. 

"I am very proud of Carrington for being recognized as both a receiver and quarterback by my fellow head coaches in the conference,” said Stugart. "He just wants to win and didn’t hesitate for a minute when we talked about moving him to quarterback once Luke got hurt. 

“And then for him to move back to receiver and have a 100-plus yard game against No. 1 MSU-Mankato; it just shows what a great work ethic Carrington has and I’m proud of the career he put together at USF.” 

Joining Hanna on the NSIC South Division is junior offensive lineman Derek Delaney (Neligh, Neb.). Delaney provided solid protection of front for both Hanna and freshman quarterback Luke Papilion, as the Cougars averaged 467.9 yards and 33 points per game. He also helped the Cougars notch a 73% (45-62) efficiency in the red zone. 

Wes Smith, the 5-7, 170-pound senior, was named the NSIC South Second Team return specialist. The Georgia native racked up a team-high 1,564 all-purpose yards—including 818 on kick returns—which ranked fourth in the NSIC and vaulted him as high as ninth in the NCAA in kick return average over the course of the 2013 campaign.  Smith finished with an average of 23.4 yards per kick return and also led the league in punt return average (13.4), which placed him 15th nationally at the end of the season. Smith also had 35 receptions for 534 and four scores, including a team-best 78-yard touchdown run.

USF placed three players on the NSIC South Honorable Mention Team and they are sophomore punter Jace Bunkers, sophomore defensive lineman Grant Schindler and senior tight end Austin Vanhove.  

Bunkers, the 5-10, 198-pound Roosevelt graduate, finished the regular season seventh in the NSIC in punt average (35.0). He accumulated 1,821 yards on 52 punts. Schindler started all 11 games and posted 39 tackles (19 solo), 7.0 TFL for 14 yards, a pair of sacks, three pass-breakups, three passes defended and recovered a fumble.

Vanhove was one of four honorable mention tight ends. The sixth-year senior led the Cougars with 542 receiving yards on 44 catches and tied for the team lead with four touchdown grabs. Vanhove, who joined Hanna in the 1,000 Yard Receiving Club earlier this year, ends his Cougar career with 117 receptions, 1,437 yards and 13 touchdown catches.

Courtesy University of Sioux Falls Athletics

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