USD players named to ESPN academic squad

USD players named to ESPN academic squad
Four South Dakota football team members have been named to the 2006 ESPN The Magazine District VII Academic Squad.

Frank Leibfarth, Matthew Murphy and Luke Mikkelsen all were named to the District VII first team and are eligible for Academic All-American honors. Ryan Mach was a second team selection.

Academic All-District selections are voted on by members of College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), and student athletes must have a 3.2 grade point average or higher to be eligible for the honor.

Leibfarth, a junior place-kicker from Yankton, owns a 3.922 grade point average in chemistry/biology. Murphy, a senior defensive lineman from Rapid City, owns a 3.944 grade point average in business. Luke Mikkelsen, a senior punter from Gregory, has a 3.59 grade point average in criminal justice. Ryan Mach, a senior from Prague, NE, owns a 3.257 grade point average in business management. Leibfarth, Murphy and Mach were all named to the Academic All-NCC squad earlier this month.

Murphy has been a stalwart on USD's defensive front. He has recorded 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops, four tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks for the top-ranked defense in the NCC. Led by Murphy, the USD defense has limited opponents to 60.9 yards rushing and 268.9 yards in total offense each game. Murphy has started 16 and played in 42 games during his career at USD. He has 47 career tackles, six quarterback sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Last spring, Leibfarth became just the seventh USD student to be awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, a $7,500 national scholarship. The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,081 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculty members from colleges and university across the nation. Leibfarth has started 21 straight games as the USD place-kicker. Leibfarth, who has made 7-of-14 field goals and 43-of-45 extra point attempts in 2006, ranks sixth in the NCC in scoring at 6.4 points per game. A year ago, he made a school record 65-of-66 extra points and scored 77 points which was third on the team and seventh in the NCC in scoring. Leibfarth owns three USD kicking records and hit a career best 42-yard field goal in USD's Dakota Day win over Central Washington on Oct. 7. In his career, he has made 108-of-111 extra points and 11-of-20 field goals Leibfarth's 108 career extra points is a school record, which he set in the 45-28 win over seventh-ranked Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 4 at the DakotaDome.

Mikkelsen, who was a second team ESPN The Magazine Academic District VII selection in 2005, has started 34 straight games at punter for South Dakota. He has 25 punts for 937 yards or 37.5 yards per kick and has placed seven kicks inside the 20-yard line this season. In his career, he has 100 punts for 3,836 yards or 38.36 per punt. Mikkelsen was named to the Academic All-NCC squad in 2004.

Mach, a starter in 10 games for USD this season, is one of the leaders on the USD offense, which leads the league in rushing yards per game (276.8 yards per game), total offense (443.7 yards per game) and scoring offense (34.6 points per game). Mach has played in 22 games during his standout career at USD.

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