Matt Zimmer’s 2022 All-Missouri Valley Football Conference team ” Missouri

It’s been 10 years since my disdain for college football teams run by sports information led me to start my own.

Back when NSIC was my primary hit, I did the math and found that about half of the conference starters were recognized by all conferences. This is stupid. Especially when it’s no secret that some schools go so far as to manipulate stats, name certain games, and refuse to switch starters in blowouts to give their players that little credit.

So I came up with “Zim’s All-Pro Team,” named after the NFL’s more exclusive post-season all-star team.

Here was my first, back in 2012. You’ll find that Adam Thielen wasn’t good enough. Damn I was that hard. (Just kidding, that was a silly omission; Jason Eck, then Mankato’s offensive coordinator, told me that, but the Mavericks were a run-first offensive line, so I ignored him.)

I’ve carried on tradition while covering the Missouri Valley Football Conference, although the Valley’s all-conference team has never been as bloated as what NSIC puts out. Here is last year’s team.

The basic idea has remained the same. No second team, no honorable mention. No Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, just a single MVP.

Here we go. Zim’s 2022 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Pro Team:


Theo Day, North Iowa

The Michigan State transfer leads the Valley in passing yards (3,121), touchdown passes (26) and QB rating (169.0), and at least two of its six interceptions, against SDSU, were tipped balls. The guy was on fire at the end of the season, and the entire playoff field should be lucky that the Panthers narrowly missed out. The day would make her dangerous.

Back race

Jaleel McLaughlin, Youngstown State

Can the Division II stars make a difference at FCS level? Ask McLaughlin, the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher.

After rushing for 2,400 yards as a sophomore at Notre Dame College Division II and 2,316 yards as a sophomore, McLaughlin relocated to Youngstown State, where he rushed for 691 yards in the spring season shortened by the pandemic.

Then he ran for 1,139 last year. He then came back for the extra year this season and was better than ever, rushing for 1,588 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 7.0 yards per carry. All three of those numbers led the Valley, and the Penguins went 7-4, narrowly missing out on the playoffs.

He ended his career with 8,155 yards.

Isaiah Davis, State of South Dakota

Took over as captain after Pierre Strong left and carried the burden for the Jacks. Davis is second in the league with 932 yards and third with 10 rushing touchdowns. And the good news for SDSU? It still feels like he hasn’t fully broken out this season.

wide receiver

Bryce Oliver, Youngstown State

Bo Belquist, North Dakota

Naseim Brantley, western Illinois

Alright, here’s the thing. Jaxon Janke and Jadon Janke are the best receivers in the Valley in my opinion. However, the production that brings awards isn’t pure talent. The Janke twins have been fantastic this year, better than ever in my opinion, but the numbers just aren’t there (for a variety of reasons beyond their control). That was the same reasoning I used to not pick Christian Watson (who is now catching touchdowns for the Packers) last year and then Thielen. It would be hypocritical to change the criteria now.

More:Matt Zimmer’s End of Season Top 25 FCS Football Rankings

Belquist was the best receiver I’ve ever seen next to the Jankes, and he led the league in catches. Brantley had the most yards and was second for touchdowns and Oliver had the most touchdowns and was second for yards. They earn it. The fact that the Jankes numbers have dropped this year and that SDSU has won its first full Valley title and is the top seed in the playoffs is no coincidence. Their goal is wins, not catches, and that’s another reason they’re the best.

Close end

Zach Heins, SDSU

That’s Tucker Kraft’s spot and I almost gave it to him even though he only played four full games. But with Kraft spending two months on the shelf, the Jacks needed Heins to step up, and he did, catching 27 passes and four touchdowns. Kraft will be a high draft pick, but Heins could also play on Sundays.

offensive line

Cody Mauch, State of North Dakota

Nash Jensen, State of North Dakota

Mason McCormick, SDSU

Garret Greenfield, SDSU

Donny Ventrelli, North Dakota

Mauch is widely considered the best blocker in the league, and Jensen isn’t far behind. Neither did McCormick and Greenfield, who anchored the left side for SDSU this year. All five of the above selections have a chance to play on Sundays.

line of defense

Caleb Sanders, SDSU

Spencer Waege, NDSU

Reece Winkelman, SDSU

Richie Hagerty, Southern Illinois

Sanders and Winkelman destroyed balls for a deep defensive line that lost several key figures last year and has continued to dominate this season. In fact, they were even better; the #1 defense in the valley, with the front four routinely leading the way. Waege, a kid from South Dakota, and Hagerty were among the top pass rushers among the league’s downlinemen.


Zeke Vandenburgh, Illinois

Stephen Hillis, USD

Kenton Wilhoit, Illinois

Adam Bock, SDSU

Vandenburgh was a good cow, registering a whopping 14 sacks – twice as many as anyone in the league, while also finishing second in the league with 100 tackles. Just an absolute beast, the most effective defensive player in the conference. Wilhoit was also dangerous with 77 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

Hillis led the Valley with 114 stops and helped the Coyote defense put together a credible performance for the year, at least until the season finale.

I almost took Bock off the list because he missed the last three Plus games of the season, but he was so outstanding while being healthy, so efficient, playing so well against the run and the pass all over the field that he still part of it.

defensive back

Benny Sapp, UNI

Michael Tutsie, NDSU

Woo Governor, UNI

DyShawn Gales, SDSU

Sapp continued to be a huge playmaker, while Woo Governor’s game garnered even more attention than his great name. Gales gets the nod for a handful of teammates (Colby Huerter, Malik Lofton, Dalys Beanum, Cale Reeder) who all deserve attention.

table football

Matthew Cook, UNI

The best kicker in the league. No debate. I’d say I hope the Vikings draft him, but I don’t want to curse the boy.


John Bickel, USD

SDSU’s Hunter Dustman averaged Bickle (42.6 to 42.4), but opponents returned Dustman’s punts for 171 yards, 100 more than Bickle allowed on 20 more punts. Bickle also doubled Dustman in kicks within the 20th minute.

More:South Dakota football’s commitment to head coach Bob Nielson promises change and stability

Returns specialist

Jadon Janke, SDSU

That could have gone to several guys this year, but Janke gets the nod. He took the job late in the season but immediately made a seismic impact on a second leg that hadn’t yielded much in years.


Mark Gronowski, SDSU

The more I thought about it, the easier it was. McLaughlin was the league’s most prolific offensive player. Vandenburgh was by far the most feared defensive player.

But if you emphasize the “V” in “MVP,” Gronowski is an easy choice.

He led SDSU to a perfect season against FCS competition after losing a year to an ACL injury, and he did it by getting better every week. The Jacks had a new offensive coordinator, lost their best weapon from the previous year (Pierre Strong) to the NFL, had a redesigned offensive line (which also had a new coach), and they lost their best projected weapon (Force). to an injury just a few games into the season.

All of these factors got the offense off to a slow start, but as Gronowski shook off the gridiron, the offense came alive. He completed 65 percent of his throws for 2,247 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions while rushing for an additional eight touchdowns.

Along the way, he was the same charismatic veteran player he was drawn to in the Spring 2021 season, and he was visibly becoming an even stronger leader. It was Gronowski who was vocal about confronting the SDSU’s history of suffering disappointments amid strong seasons, and it seemed like he was urging them to avoid it this year. He wasn’t Offensive Player of the Year, he was Most Valuable Player.

More:Mark Gronowski’s return from injury underscores South Dakota State’s FCS title hunt

coach of the year

John Stiegelmeier, SDSU

If you go into the valley undefeated, you will be trainer of the year. With all the injuries the Jacks had, will you make it without a bye week? This makes it even easier to make calls.