Football

Kitchens Named AFCA All-American

WACO, TEXAS – Catawba sophomore linebacker, Kyle Kitchens (Decatur, Ga./Decatur), has been named a 2015 Division II All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).  The team, comprised of 25 players, was announced on Thursday.

Kitchens recorded 13 sacks on the year, the second highest single season total at Catawba behind DeVonte Peterson’s 14.5.  The sacks led the South Atlantic Conference.  Kitchens totaled 23 stops for loss among his 65 tackles on the year.  He forced two fumbles and had three recoveries and returned his lone interception 90 yards for a touchdown against Mars Hill.

Kitchens becomes Catawba’s first AFCA All-American since Terence Crosby in 2008 and is the 10th Catawba player to earn the honor from the AFCA.  He was just one of three sophomores on the 2015 AFCA All-America Team.

The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions.  What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves. 


2015 AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team
Offense
QB - *Jason Vander Laan, Ferris St., 6-4, 244, Sr., Frankfort, Ill. (Chicago Christian)
RB - Damian Baker, Carson-Newman, 5-8, 195, Sr., Columbus, Miss. (Columbus)
RB - Ja’Quan Gardner, Humbolt St., 5-7, 190, So., Ceres, Calif. (Central Valley)
WR - Jon Schnaars, East Stroudsburg, 6-3, 210, Sr., Harrisburg, Pa. (Central Dauphin)
WR - Reece Horn, Indianapolis, 6-3, 215, Sr., Carmel, Ind. (Cathedral)
TE - Adam Shaheen, Ashland, 6-6, 240, So., Galena, Ohio (Big Walnut)
OL - Shane Thompson, Texas A&M-Commerce, 6-3, 245, Sr., Keller, Texas (Fossil Ridge)
OL - Cory Tucker, Slippery Rock, 6-4, 305, Sr., South Park, Pa. (South Park)
OL - Joe Ray, Lenoir-Rhyne, 6-1, 270, Sr., Atlanta, Ga. (Druid Hills)
OL - Chris Reaper, Findlay, 6-3, 281, Sr., Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer)
OL - Jordan Morgan, Kutztown, 6-4, 300, Jr., Philadelphia, Pa. (Parkway Northwest)

Defense
DL - *Josh Gordon, Minnesota St., 6-2, 255, Sr., Milwaukee, Wis. (Wisconsin Lutheran)
DL - Justin Woods-West, Central St., 6-2, 265, Sr., Detroit, Mich. (Kettering Senior)
DL - Morgan Fox, Colorado St.-Pueblo, 6-4, 259, Sr., Fountain, Colo. (Fountain-Fort Carson)
DL - Clayton Callicutt, Angleo St., 6-4, 275, Sr., Crosby, Texas (Crosby)
LB - Kyle Kitchens, Catawba, 6-2, 205, So., Decatur, Georgia (Decatur)
LB - Jewell Ratliff, Tuskegee, 6-1, 238, Sr., New Orleans, La. (McDonogh 35)
LB - Alex Wahl, Upper Iowa, 6-2, 235, Sr., Elgin, Ill. (Larkin)
DB - *Michael Jordan, Missouri Western St., 6-0, 200, Sr., Hazelwood, Mo. (Hazelwood Central)
DB - Marqui Christian, Midwestern St., 6-1, 205, Sr., Spring, Texas (Spring)
DB - *Solomon St. Pierre, Sioux Falls, 5-11, 171, Sr., Wagner, S.D. (Wagner)
DB - *Jordan Shaw, Shorter, 6-2, 215, Sr., Jasper, Ga. (Pickens County)

Specialists
PK - *Brent Wahle, Ohio Dominican, 6-2, 175, Sr., Pataskala, Ohio (Bishop Hartley)
P - Brett Benes, Charleston, 6-0, 180, Jr., Boca Raton, Fla. (Cardinal Newman)
AP - Tyreek Hill, West Alabama, 5-10, 185, Sr., Douglas, Ga. (Coffee)
*-2014 AFCA All-American 

Team Background: The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945 until 1967, only one team was chosen. From 1967 through 1971, two teams, University Division and College Division, were selected. In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II. In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams — FBS and FCS. In 1996, the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III, respectively. In 2006, the AFCA started selecting an NAIA-only team.
From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997, a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team. The return specialist position was replaced by an all-purpose player in 2006.

Selection Process: The AFCA’s Division II All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA’s seven districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee. The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the team is chosen.

The Award: Members of the AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team receive a plaque commemorating their selection to the team.

Top Teams: Texas A&M-Kingsville has been represented a total of 34 times by 30 players on the AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team, to lead all schools. Trailing Texas A&M-Kingsville is Pittsburg State (20/16), Northwest Missouri State (19/14), Indiana (Pa.) (18/16), North Alabama (17/16), Texas A&M-Commerce (17/15), Carson-Newman (16/15), Grand Valley State (16/15), Ferris State (16/13), American International (14/13), New Haven (13/13), Valdosta State (13/11), Ashland (12/12), Indianapolis (11/11), Saginaw Valley State (11/11), Angelo State (11/10), Catawba (11/10), West Texas A&M (10/10), St. Cloud State (10/9) and Central State (10/8).

Consecutive Years: Texas A&M-Kingsville had at least one player named to the AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team for 18 straight seasons, from 1986 to 2003, the longest streak by any team in Division II. Northwest Missouri State is second, having had 16 straight selections from 1996-2011. Pittsburg State has the third longest streak at nine straight selections from 1988-96. Three teams have had three consecutive selections from 2013 to today: Colorado State-Pueblo, Ohio Dominican and Texas A&M-Commerce. Six teams have had two consecutive selections from last year to today: Ferris State, Humboldt State, Lenoir-Rhyne, Minnesota State, Missouri Western State and Sioux Falls.

Repeat After Me:  Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Johnny Bailey is the only player to earn Coaches’ All-America honors in four consecutive years at any level. Bailey was a four-year pick at running back in 1986-87-88-89.

Back-to-Back: Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan, Minnesota State defensive lineman Josh Gordon, Missouri Western State defensive back Michael Jordan, Sioux Falls defensive back Solomon St. Pierre, Shorter defensive back Jordan Shaw and Ohio Dominican placekicker Brent Wahle are the six players who earned AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America honors for the second consecutive season in 2015.

Two Players, Two Schools: Punter Mark Bounds and placekicker Greg Zuerlein are the only players to earn Coaches’ All-America honors at two different schools. Bounds was named to the AFCA College Division I team in 1990 while playing for West Texas A&M. He transferred to Texas Tech after West Texas dropped football and earned I-A All-America honors as a Red Raider in 1991. Zuerlein was named to the Division II Coaches’ All-America Team in 2009 while playing for Nebraska-Omaha. He transferred to Missouri Western State after Nebraska-Omaha dropped its football program and earned Division II honors in 2011 as a Griffon.

Class Distinction: This year’s Division II Coaches’ All-America Team is made up of 20 seniors, two juniors and three sophomores.

It’s Been A While: Wide receiver Jon Schnaars of East Stroudsburg, defensive lineman Justin Woods-West of Central State (Ohio), defensive lineman Clayton Callicutt of Angelo State (Texas) and offensive lineman Jordan Morgan from Kutztown have earned AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team honors for their schools for the first time since 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1997, respectively.

First Time’s A Charm: Charleston (W.Va.) punter Brett Benes and Upper Iowa linebacker Alex Wahl earned honors for their schools for the first time in AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team history.

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