The Missouri Valley Football Conference boasts some of the best teams in the Football Championship Subdivision, so it stands to reason that the league is made up of some tremendous players.
Of the four major individual awards that are handed out at the end of the regular season by the league, three of those players are returning in 2019. It makes for what should be a terrific season and for Bison fans, consistently seeing some of the best talent in the FCS.
QUARTERBACK - Ryan Boyle, Indiana State - The reigning newcomer of the year received my vote for the preseason top quarterback in the league. Boyle threw for over 16 hundred yards and 12 touchdowns for a resurgent Indiana State team that should have made the playoffs last season. The Sycamores remain off the Bison schedule in 2019, but if you need any proof how good Boyle is, go back and watch the thriller with South Dakota State last season. He'll be fun to watch this fall.
RUNNING BACK - Pierre Strong, South Dakota State - The freshman of the year was sensational last year. Strong burst on the scene in November for the Jackrabbits then proceeded to run roughshod over the rest of the league in leading SDSU to the FCS semifinals. A full season with Strong in the backfield is a scary thought for defenses, after he ran for 1,116 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Illinois State's James Robinson is also a special player, an FCS All-American to boot. Robinson ran for nearly 13 hundred yards in 2018 and racked up 12 touchdowns, his ability to break tackles and run away from defenders is a talent that many teams find hard to stop.
WIDE RECEIVER - Cade Johnson, South Dakota State - Another skill player from the Jackrabbits, Johnson burst on the scene in last year's season opener with an unreal catch against Montana State. Johnson finished with 67 receptions for 1,332 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2018, becoming a favorite target of Taryn Christion. His ability to get open is tremendous, the biggest question surrounding Johnson this fall is who's going to be throwing him the ball?
OFFENSIVE LINE - Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State - The junior is poised to be the best offensive lineman in the conference. Radunz recovered from a torn ACL in the first week of the 2017 season to start every game at left tackle last year. He was named offensive lineman of the week once last season en route to be named second team all-league. He has the prototypical size to be a terrific player on the line for the next two seasons and be an NFL prospect.
DEFENSIVE LINE - Darin Greenfield, South Dakota - The senior has been a force up front for the Coyotes the last couple of years, he was named an All-American last season, finishing 20th in the defensive player of the year balloting. Greenfield had six sacks last season and became a disrupter on the defensive line, he's a guy that offense coaches scheme for, they need to know where he is on the field.
LINEBACKER - This is a position of riches in this league. Jabril Cox is an NFL player in the making, he's played two years at NDSU and claimed two major awards, newcomer and defensive player of the year. He has shown the ability to singlehandedly take over games with his ball skills, his pick six against Delaware literally ended the game shortly after it started. He could be considered the defensive player of the year this season. Christian Rozeboom has been a three year starter at linebacker for South Dakota State, an All-American player that flies around the field. Rozeboom will be the anchor of a Jackrabbit defense that is undergoing some changes for 2019. Jonas Griffith was a tackle machine in 2018 finishing with 132 for a rising Indiana State team. He will be a feature piece for Curt Mallory's team that hopes to end a five-year playoff drought.
DEFENSIVE BACK - Southern Illinois has been a forgotten school in this league the last five seasons, but you can't ignore Jeremy Chinn. The senior played in just nine games last season, but was an impact player racking up three interceptions. Chinn added in 9 pass breakups and two forced fumbles and was always around the ball and figures to be again this fall. James Hendricks story can't be told enough, the former quarterback that moved to safety, became an all-conference player last season. Hendricks figures to be in the mix to be a team captain at North Dakota State this fall, he followed up a six interception season with five more last year. Hendricks is a player you can't ignore in the secondary.
KICKER - Chase Vinatieri, South Dakota State - The last name carries some clout, but Chase Vinatieri has turned into an excellent kicker for the Jackrabbits. His percentage won't impress a ton from last season (14 of 21) but his ability to make big kicks and his monster leg makes him a must-see player in the conference for this coming season.
Bookmark this page and come back and look in November to see how many of these players were impact guys in 2019.