CLEVELAND, Ohio-- After winning their second-straight North Coast Athletic Conference championship, Denison football landed 16 players on the NCAC's all-conference teams. Senior running back Alex Minton was named the NCAC Offensive Player of the Year and senior defensive end Nate Keirn was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year. This is the first time since 1986 that Denison has swept both Player of the Year awards.
Overall, Denison placed five players on the first-team, seven players on the second-team while four received honorable mention.
Minton completed one of the greatest rushing seasons in program history in 2019. He captured his second-straight NCAC rushing title by finishing with 1,550 yards and a program-record 18 rushing touchdowns. At the conclusion of the regular season, he ranked fourth in Division III in rushing yards, seventh in rushing touchdowns and third in total touchdowns. He rushed for over 100 yards, seven times in 2019 and ended the season with a career-high 255 yards rushing against Kenyon. Minton is a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and is a nominee for the Gagliardi Trophy, presented to Division III's top player. This is the fifth time a Denison player has nabbed Offensive Player of the Year from the NCAC. Minton joins Canaan Gebele (2018), Dushawn Brown (2014), and Chris Spriggs (1985-86).
Keirn is Denison's first Defensive Player of the Year since Dan Holland won the award in 1986. He is a three-time all-conference player and two-time first-team selection that anchored the top defense in the NCAC. The Big Red allowed only 13.5 points per game and limited opponents to 80.9 rushing yards per game. Keirn shattered the program record for sacks, ending with 36 in 41 career games. He set a career-high with a conference-best 11.5 sacks in 2019 in addition to 18 tackles for loss.
Vining established him as one of the most dangerous deep threats in the nation in 2019. At the conclusion of the regular season, he leads Division III with 26.7 yards per reception. He led the NCAC in receiving yards with 936 and had three, 100-yard receiving games.
This is Zoltan's third all-conference honor and his second-straight first-team selection. For Trey Dawkins, this marks his first conference honor in his inaugural season in the starting lineup. Zoltan and Dawkins were the bookends of a fantastic offensive line that saw all five players earn all-conference accolades in 2019. The Big Red rushed for 233.5 yards per game while scoring 38.5 points per game.
Second-team honors went to senior Andrew Zellers and junior Sean McCafferty on the offensive line. Defensive tackles Jordan Lobel (35 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and Chase Struewing (42 tackles, 6.5 sacks) represented the Big Red's dominating front seven while Ryan Hallinan (53 tackles, 1 INT) picked up his first all-conference award from his strong safety position. On special teams, Pat Kramer (10-13 FGs, 48-48 PATs) earned his second, All-NCAC certificate and Vining was selected as a second-teamer as a kick return specialist.
Rounding out the All-NCAC honorees for Denison were four honorable mention selections. Sophomore quarterback Drew Dawkins passed for 1,936 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first season as a starting quarterback. He also rushed for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Senior guard Preston Ott picked up his first all-conference award while linebackers Chris Negrete and Andrew Smith represented the defense. Smith led the Big Red in tackles with 67 while Negrete followed with 58.
Denison's 16 all-conference selections led the NCAC. The Big Red finished the 2019 season with an 8-2 record, marking the program's third, eight-win season since 2016. Over the last four seasons, Denison has gone 31-10 with two NCAC Championships and one NCAA Division III playoff appearance in 2018.