Caden McDonald was named to the AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Football First Team and four of his Mustang teammates were named to the second team.

Caden McDonald

Morningside’s Caden McDonald, a 5-11, 210 lb. senior linebacker from Logan, Iowa, was named to the 2017 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NAIA Coaches’ All-America First Team.

In addition to McDonald’s first-team selection, the Mustangs placed four players on the AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Second Team in Trae Bradburn, Bubba Jenkins, Connor Niles and Spencer Wyant.

Their exploits helped lead Morningside to one of its greatest seasons in school history. The Mustangs posted a 13-1 record, won a seventh consecutive Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championship with a perfect 8-0 league slate and made a 14th consecutive post-season appearance in the NAIA Football Championship Series, where they lost 43-36 against reigning NAIA National Champion University of Saint Francis in the semifinals.

Morningside’s five All-America selections matched Baker University’s five players on the 2106 AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Team for the most All-Americans in one season.

McDonald, the 2017 Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Defensive Player of the Year, topped the Mustangs’ defense with 57 solos and 45 assists for 102 total tackles, including a team-high 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 54 yards. He also led the Mustangs with five interceptions and two blocked kicks, finished second on the team with eight quarterback hurries, and had 4.5 quarterback sacks, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. McDonald returned his five interceptions for 196 yards for an average of 39.2 yards per return and had touchdown returns of 50 yards against Tabor College and 24 yards against NCAA Division II Truman State University. McDonald had five double figure tackle performances, including a season’s high 14 tackles when the Mustangs opened the season with a 41-24 victory against St. Francis University.

Trae Bradburn

Bubba Jenkins

McDonald was named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Week four times this season and was the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week after he had 11 tackles, two quarterback sacks, an interception and a blocked field goal attempt in the Mustangs’ 48-20 victory against nationally ranked Northwestern College to hand the Red Raiders their only loss of the regular season.

McDonald, who topped the Mustangs’ tackle chart with 78 stops in the 2016 season, collected 120 solos and 103 assists for 223 tackles during his Morningside career. His career totals also include 41 tackles for losses of 176 yards, 10.5 quarterback sacks, six interceptions and five pass breakups.

Bradburn, a 6-2, 285 lb. senior offensive tackle from Fort Calhoun, Neb., is the offensive line standout for a potent Morningside offense that leads the nation with an average of 575.9 yards total offense per game and ranks second in scoring with an average of 51.1 points per game. Bradburn’s blocking skills helped the Mustangs average 248.0 yards rushing per game and 5.6 yards per rushing attempt and give up only 11 quarterback sacks all season.

Jenkins, a 5-10, 205 lb. senior running back from Springfield, Mo., is the nation’s leading rusher with 2160 yards in 350 attempts for an average of 154.3 yards per game. Jenkins rushed for 28 touchdowns and an average of 6.2 yards per carry. He also had 18 pass receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. Jenkins’ 2160 yards rushing is the second highest single-season total in Morningside history and the fifth highest career rushing yardage total in the Mustangs’ annals.

Jenkins rushed for over 100 yards in 12 of the Mustangs’ 14 contests, including a season’s high 238 yards in a 56-16 win against Hastings College for the seventh highest single-game rushing performance in Morningside history.

Spencer Wyant

Connor Niles

Niles, a 5-11, 195 lb. junior wide receiver from Sioux City, set a school record with 96 pass receptions that went for 1449 yards and 17 touchdowns for an average of 15.1 yards per catch. His 1449 pass reception yards is the third highest single-season total in Morningside history. Niles had seven 100-yard reception games, including a career-high 263 yards in the season opener against St. Francis for the fourth highest single-game total in Morningside history. He had a career-high 12 receptions that went for 151 yards in a 76-21 victory against Dakota Wesleyan University. Aside from his pass catching exploits, Niles was the Mustangs’ top return specialist with 17 kickoff returns for a 24.7-yard average and six punt returns for a 29.2-yard average with one touchdown.

Niles has 214 receptions for 3700 yards and 39 touchdowns during his Morningside career. He is Morningside’s all-time leader with 3700 career pass reception yards and ranks second in the Mustangs’ record book with 214 career receptions and 39 career touchdown catches.

Wyant, a 6-1, 205 lb. junior punter from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, was one of the top punters in the nation with 47 punts for 2010 yards for an average of 42.8 yards per punt. His longest punt of the season was a 66-yarder in the Mustangs’ 63-7 victory against Sterling College in the NAIA Football Championship Series First Round. Twenty-one of his 47 punts resulted in a fair catch or were downed inside the 20-yard line. Wyant increased his average to 44.2 yards per punt over the last 11 games of the season.

He has punted 140 times for 5644 yards for an average of 40.3 yards per punt during his Morningside career.

Morningside has placed a player on the AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America First Team for 12 straight years from 2006 to present for the longest streak in AFCA NAIA All-America Team history. 

The AFCA has selected All-America teams since 1945. The association selects All-America teams for the NAIA and all divisions of the NCAA. The AFCA started selecting a NAIA only team in 2006.

Click here for the complete 2017 AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Team.