Senior offensive lineman Christian Morton of Norfolk, NE, was named to the second team on the Lindy's Preseason All-American Division II squad, which was also announced in the magazine this week. Morton received three All-American honors following the conclusion of the 2006 season, including first-team honors on the Don Hansen Football Gazette. Morton was selected to the first team on d2football.com and the first team of the Daktronics, Inc., squad. He was one of the eight finalists for the national Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award. He also was named the Rimington Award recipient as the best offensive center in D-II.
Morton anchored the nation's fourth-best rushing attack (253.4 yards per game). In fact, Morton helped USD gain 3,632 yards on the ground in 531 attempts for a per-carry average of 6.2 yards. USD was third in the nation in average yards per rush and a half-yard better than the NCC's top rushing team, Nebraska-Omaha, at 5.58. Morton was also a key contributor on the league's top-scoring offense (32.8 ppg), which ranked 14th nationally. He was also part of the fifth-best offense in the nation (425.5 total offense yards).
The magazine also named Wisconsin transfer Dion Foster as its Newcomer of the Year. Foster (5'9, 208 pounds) was Wisconsin's Scout Team Player of the Year in 2005. He received a near-four-star rating (3.88) by Rivals.com in 2005 after rushing for 2,010 yards on 204 carries with 25 touchdowns as a high school senior at Oaklawn (IL) H.L. Richards High School. Foster also accumulated 1,909 yards and 32 touchdowns as a sophomore and followed that up with 1,558 yards and 19 scores as a junior, all of which helped him rank as the No. 82 running back in the nation and in the Midwest Overall Top 100 in 2005 by Scout.com. In his prep career, he totaled 5,477 yards and 75 touchdowns on 576 carries.
"It is pleasing to see that national publications are continuing to recognize our success of the past three seasons," said USD head football coach Ed Meierkort, who begins his fourth year at USD with a 27-8 overall mark. Meierkort has compiled the best three-year mark by a head football coach in school history.
The Coyotes will open the season with a special Thursday night game on the road at 19th-ranked West Texas A&M at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31. The Coyotes' home season opener is a week later on Hall of Fame Saturday against Winona State at 7 p.m. in the DakotaDome.
South Dakota returns 17 starters from a squad that was nationally-ranked all season in 2006. The 2006 Coyotes had their third straight nine-win season and a 4-2 record in conference play.