CEDAR FALLS - Northern Iowa defensive end James Ruffin earned part of the defensive player of the year award and led a group of five Panthers to receive first-team honors as the Missouri Valley Football Conference announced its all-league teams Wednesday.
Ruffin, a 6-foot-4, 263-pound senior from Burnsville, Minn., secured his second consecutive MVFC defensive player of the year honor. He was the sole winner in 2008; this season South Dakota State end Danny Batten claimed a share of the award.
Ruffin became the sixth MVFC player to win back-to-back defensive player of the year status.
It's just the second time since the formation of the league in 1985 that two players have shared the defensive award. UNI linebacker Mark Farley, now the Panthers' head coach, and James Houston of Missouri State jointly won it 24 years ago.
The other Panthers named to Valley Football's first team were quarterback Pat Grace, center Austin Steichen, linebacker Josh Mahoney and safety Quentin Scott. All five are seniors.
Both Mahoney and Steichen made the first team for the second consecutive time. It also was the latest honor for Mahoney, who had been named a first-team academic all-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Grace moved up from second-team status as a junior to become a first-teamer in 2009. Scott made the first team in his only season as a starter in the UNI defensive secondary.
The Panthers' second team contingent includes junior tight end Schuylar Oordt, senior offensive tackle Austin Howard, senior fullback Ryan Mahaffey and senior defensive tackle Wes Lane.
Mahaffey and Howard are on the second-team for consecutive years. Oordt and Lane made the squad for the first time.
UNI's honorable mention picks include redshirt freshman running back Carlos Anderson, senior wide receiver D.J. Hord, junior placekicker Billy Hallgren and junior linebacker Jamar Thompson.
Southern Illinois running back Deji Karim was Valley Football's offensive player of the year. Saluki head coach Dale Lennon was the coach of the year for the second straight season.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE - Quarterback: Pat Grace, Northern Iowa, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Running backs: Deji Karim, Southern Illinois, 5-11,. 200, Sr.; Pat Paschall, North Dakota State, 5-11, 198, Sr.; Fullback: John Goode, Southern Illinois, 6-2, 225, So.; Wide receivers: Donald Jones, Youngstown St., 6-2, 210, Sr.; Eyad Salem, Illinois St., 6-1, 190, Sr.; Tight end: Clay Harbor, Missouri St., 6-4, 243, Sr.; Offensive line: David Arkin, Missouri St., 6-5, 298, Jr.; Keith Buckman, North Dakota St., 6-5, 320, Sr.; Ryan McKnight, South Dakota St., 6-2, 295, Jr.; David Pickard, Southern Illinois, 6-5, 290, So.; Austin Steichen, UNI, 6-3, 305, Sr.; Placekicker: Zach Kutch, Illinois St., 5-9, 175, Sr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE - Defensive line: Chris Arthurs, Southern Illinois, 6-0, 295, Sr.; Danny Batten, South Dakota St., 6-5, 245, Sr.; James Ruffin, UNI, 6-4, 263, Sr.; Mychal Savage, Youngstown St., 6-2, 310, Sr. Linebackers: Derek Domino, South Dakota St., 6-3, 230, Jr.; Brandin Jordan, Southern Illinois, 6-11, 230, Sr.; Josh Mahoney, UNI, 6-1, 228, Sr.; Antoine Wilkinson, Missouri St., 6-2, 220, Jr.; Secondary: Korey Lindsey, Southern Illinois, 6-0, 190, Jr.,; Mike McElroy, Southern Illinois, 6-1, 205, Jr.; Quentin Scott, UNI, 6-5, 224, Sr.; Patrick Stoudamire, Western Illinois, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Punter: Scott Ravanesi, Southern Illinois, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Return specialist: Todd Speight, Western Illinois, 5-8, 165, Jr.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE - Quarterback: Matt Brown, Illinois St., 6-4, 210, Fr.; Running backs: Dre Gibbs, Western Illinois, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Kyle Minett, South Dakota St., 5-10, 215, Jr.; Fullback: Ryan Mahaffey, UNI, 6-4, 258, Jr.; Wide receivers: Joe Allaria, Southern Illinois, 6-2, 195, Jr.; Glen Fox, South Dakota St., 6-2, 205, Sr.; Tight end: Schuylar Oordt, UNI, 6-7, 246, Jr.; Offensive line: Nick Bledsoe, Illinois St., 6-2, 290, So.; Bryan Boemer, Southern Illinois, 6-2, 305, So.; Austin Howard, UNI, 6-7, 319, Sr.; Casey Knips, South Dakota St., 6-8, 315, Sr.; Eric Rodemoyer, Youngstown St., 6-4, 280, Jr.; Placekicker: Kyle Dougherty, Southern Illinois, 5-10, 185, Jr.;
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE - Defensive line: Eric Brunner, Illinois St., 6-2, 270, So.; Matthew Gratzek, North Dakota St., 6-2, 278, Jr.; Wes Lane, UNI, 6-4, 290, Sr.; Waylen Richardet, Missouri St., 6-1, 269, Jr.; Linebackers: Aaron Archie, Indiana St., 6-0, 230, Fr.; Preston Evans, North Dakota St., 5-11, 220, So.,; Kyle Glazier, Western Illinois, 6-1, 220, Jr.; Chauncey Mixon, Southern Illinois, 6-1, 215, Sr.; Secondary: Kelvyn Hemphill, Illinois St., 6-2, 185, Jr.; Conrad Kjerstad, South Dakota, St., 6-0, 200, Jr.; Skylar Smith, Missouri St., 5-11, 190, Jr.; Lenny Wicks, Youngstown St., 5-10, 190, Sr.; Punter: Dean Priddy, South Dakota St., 6-3, 210, Jr.; Return specialist: Deji Karim, Southern Illinois, 5-11, 200, Sr.
HONORABLE MENTION - Chris Garrett, E.J. Jones, Doni Phelps, Illinois St.; Darrius Gates, Rod Hardy, Donye McClesky, Indiana St., Jordan Chiles, Jared Emery, Cody Kirby, Missouri St.; Ryan Foster, Austin Richard; Carlos Anderson, Billy Hallgren, D.J. Hord, Jamar Thompson, UNI; Colin Cochart, Chris Johnson, Jimmy Rogers, South Dakota St.; Chris Dieker, Ryan Kernes, Marty Rodgers, Southern Illinois; Buddy Dudczak, Josh Gabelmann, Lilo Senatus, Western Illinois; Dominique Barnes, Andre Elliott, Brandon Summers, Youngstown St.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Deji Karim, RB, Southern Ilinois
CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR - James Ruffin, DE, UNI and Danny Batten, DE, S. Dakota St.
BRUCE CRADDOCK COACH OF THE YEAR - Dale Lennon, Southern Illinois.