Kitchens Becomes Fourth D2 Player Named AFCA All-American Three Straight Years


WACO, TEXAS -- Gannon running back Marc Jones and Catawba linebacker Kyle Kitchens headline the 2017 AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Teams announced today by the American Football Coaches Association. Kitchens becomes just the fourth player in Division II history, and second defensive player, to be named to three straight AFCA All-America teams. He was a first team pick in 2015 and 2017 and a second team honoree last year.

The senior Kitchens totaled a South Atlantic Conference (SAC) high 12.5 sacks this year and had 20 tackles for loss. The SAC Defensive Player of the Year made 53 total tackles, forced a fumble and recovered one. He was credited with 16 quarterback pressures and broke up five passes.

Jones, a finalist for the 2017 Harlon Hill Award, finished the season with 2,176 rushing yards, 29 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, 186 total points and 2,464 all-purpose yards. He leads all divisions of the NCAA in rushing yards per game (197.8). Jones tops NCAA Division II in rushing touchdowns, rushing yards per carry (8.09), total touchdowns (31), points per game (16.9) and total rushing yards.

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.

2017 AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Teams

First Team
Pos – Name (Ht,  Wt, Cl, School) Hometown (High School)
QB - Travis Tarnowski (5-11, 218, Sr, Ashland) Broadview Heights, Ohio (North Royalton)
RB - Marc Jones (5-11, 225, Sr, Gannon) Painesville, Ohio (Riverside)
RB - *Kamal Cass (5-11, 185, Sr, Eastern New Mexico) Clovis, N.M. (Clovis)
WR - Donta Armstrong (5-10, 151, Sr, West Alabama) Bruce, Miss. (Bruce)
WR - Weston Carr (6-2, 200, So, Azusa Pacific) Benicia, Calif. (Benicia)
TE - Seth Hebert (6-4, 225, Jr, Central Missouri) St. Louis, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt West)
OL - *Jared Machorro (6-7, 280,Sr, Texas A&M-Commerce) Coldspring, Texas (Oakhurst)
OL - Joseph Lacey (6-6, 328, Sr, LIU-Post) Medford, N.Y. (Patchogue-Medford)
OL - Desmond Harrison (6-7, 288, Sr, West Georgia) Houston, Texas (Oak Ridge)
OL - Andrew Alten (6-2, 308, Sr, Findlay) Loveland, Ohio (Loveland)
OL - Ruben Holcomb (6-4, 317, Sr, Indianapolis) Fort Wayne, Ind. (Snider)

DL - Blake Nelson (5-11, 230, Sr, Colorado Mesa) Centennial, Colo. (Arapahoe)
DL - *Marcus Martin (6-2, 255, S., Slippery Rock) West Mifflin, Pa. (West Mifflin)
DL - *Zach Sieler (6-6, 290, Jr, Ferris St.) Pinckney, Mich. (Pinckney)
DL - Nathan Shepherd (6-5, 300, S., Fort Hays St.) Ajax, Ontario (J. Clarke Richardson)
LB - **Kyle Kitchens (6-2, 205, Sr, Catawba) Decatur, Ga. (Decatur)
LB - Brandon Payer (6-4, 248, Jr, Colorado St.-Pueblo) Pine, Colo. (Conifer)
LB - *Osband Thompson (6-0, 205, Sr, Tuskegee) Miami, Fla. (Jackson)
DB - Max Redfield (6-1, 205, Sr, Indiana,PA) Mission Viejo, Calif. (Mission Viejo)
DB - Chris Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr, North Alabama) Birmingham, Ala. (Oak Mountain)
DB - Marcus Jones (6-0, 178, Sr, Northwest Missouri St) Gladstone, Mo. (North Kansas City)
DB - Andrew Spencer (6-1, 210, Sr, Winona St.) Lake Villa, Ill. (Lakes Community)

PK - Casey Bednarski (6-1, 230, Jr, Minnesota St) Oconomowoc, Wis. (Oconomowoc)
P - Cody Mikell (6-0, 215, Sr, Henderson St) Poplarville, Miss. (Poplarville)
AP - Deonte Harris (5-6, 170, Jr, Assumption) Baltimore, Md. (Archbishop Curley)
*-2016 AFCA All-American **-2015 & 2016 AFCA All-American

Second Team
QB - Luis Perez (6-3, 220, Sr, Texas A&M-Commerce) Chula Vista, Calif. (Otay Ranch)
RB - *Chris Robinson (5-9, 196, Sr, Delta St) Bude, Miss. (Franklin County)
RB - Ja’Quan Gardner (5-7, 205, Sr, Humboldt St) Ceres, Calif. (Central Valley)
WR - Keshaun Taylor (6-1, 180, Sr, Mars Hill) Homestead, Fla. (Homestead)
WR - J.T. Luper (5-9, 175, Sr, Central Oklahoma) Sherman, Texas (Sherman)
TE - Tanner Hudson (6-5, 239, Sr, Southern Arkansas) Camden, Tenn. (Central)
OL - Dontavius Blair (6-7, 294, Sr, West Alabama) Anniston, Ala. (Anniston)
OL - Taylor Nikithser (6-4, 300, Sr, California,PA) Wexford, Pa. (North Allegheny)
OL - Austin Fleer (6-8, 300, Sr, Colorado Mesa) Aurora, Colo. (Grandview)
OL-  Sam Lee (6-5, 300, Sr, Augustana) Blue Earth, Minn. (Blue Earth Area)
OL - Islam Sbeih (6-1, 298, Sr, Midwestern St) East Oakland, Calif. (San Leandro)

DL - Davondrick Lison (6-2, 213, Jr, Southern Arkansas) Arkansas City, Ark. (McGehee)
DL - Myles Humphrey (6-2, 245, Sr, Shepherd) Upper Marlboro, Md. (Dr. Henry A. Wise)
DL - Adonis Davis (6-3, 257, Jr, Florida Tech) Columbus, Ohio (Beechcroft)
DL - Markus Jones (6-3, 255, Jr, Angelo St) Crowley, Texas (Crowley)
LB - Austin Weltha (5-10, 220, Sr, McKendree) Bloomington, Ill. (Bloomington)
LB - Dennis Gardeck (6-0, 205, Gr, Sioux Falls) Lake in the Hills, Ill. (Crystal Lake South)
LB - Kevin Haynes (6-1, 228, Sr, Central Washington) Battle Ground, Wash. (Battle Ground)
DB - Yusef Sterling-Lowe (6-2, 170, Sr, Texas A&M-Commerce) Oakland, Calif. (McClymonds)
DB - Tevin Madison (5-10, 168, Sr, West Alabama) Fayette, Ala. (Fayette)
DB - Tavierre Thomas (6-0, 205, Sr, Ferris St) Detroit, Mich. (Allen)
DB - Darius Williams (6-0, 195, Jr, Colorado St.-Pueblo) Gilbert, Ariz. (Williams Field)

PK - Cole Tracy (5-11, 190, Sr, Assumption) Camarillo, Calif. (Newbury Park)
P - Justin Marcha (6-1, 200, Sr, Emporia St) Edmond, Okla. (Edmond Memorial)
AP - BJ Muckelvene (5-10, 170, R-So, Wingate) Waxhaw, N.C. (Cuthbertson)
*-2016 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 teams are chosen.

The Award: Members of the AFCA Coaches’ All-America First Team will receive a plaque commemorating their selection to the team, while members of the Second Team will receive a certificate.

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 to 2011. Pittsburg State has the third longest streak at nine straight selections from 1988 to 1996. Texas A&M-Commerce has the longest active streak with five straight selections from 2013 to today. 

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 Texas A&M-Commerce (22/19), Northwest Missouri State (21/16), North Alabama (20/19), Pittsburg State (20/16), Indiana (Pa.) (19/17), Ferris State (19/15), Carson-Newman (16/15), Grand Valley State (16/15), Ashland (15/14), Mississippi College (15/14), New Haven (14/14), American International (14/13), Valdosta State (14/12), Colorado Mesa (13/11), Catawba (13/10), Indianapolis (12/12), Saginaw Valley State (12/12), Angelo State (12/11), Eastern New Mexico (11/9), LIU-Post (11/9), Slippery Rock (11/9), West Georgia (10/10), West Texas A&M (10/10), Winston-Salem State (10/10), Central Washington (10/9), Sioux Falls (10/9), St. Cloud State (10/9), Central State (10/8), Mars Hill (10/8) and Minnesota State (10/7).

Back-to-Back: Eastern New Mexico running back Kamal Cass, Texas A&M-Commerce offensive lineman Jared Machorro, Slippery Rock defensive lineman Marcus Martin, Ferris State defensive lineman Zach Sieler, Tuskegee linebacker Osband Thompson and Delta State running back Chris Robinson are the six players who earned AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America honors for the second consecutive season in 2017.

Three-peat: Catawba linebacker Kyle Kitchens became the fourth player in Division II history to be named to three straight AFCA All-America Teams. Kitchens was a first-team selection in 2015 and 2017, and a second-team selection in 2016. He joins Brandon Williams, a defensive lineman from Missouri Southern State (2010-12), running back Jonas Randolph from Mars Hill (2009-11) and Tywan Mitchell, a wide receiver from Minnesota State (1996-98).

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

Two Players, Two Schools: Punter Mark Bounds and placekicker Greg Zuerlein are the only players to earn AFCA 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 37 seniors, 10 juniors, two sophomores and one graduate student.

It’s Been A While: Wide receiver J.T. Luper from Central Oklahoma and defensive back Max Redfield from Indiana (Pa.) have earned AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team honors for their schools for the first time since 2007 and 2009, respectively.

First Time’s A Charm: Gannon running back Marc Jones, Assumption all-purpose player Deonte Harris and place-kicker Cole Tracy earned honors for their schools for the first time in AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team history.

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