South Dakota's Christian Morton Named Rimington Award Recipient As DII's Top Center

Christian Morton of The University of South Dakota Football Team has been named the top center in NCAA Division II for the 2006 season. Morton, a two-year starter for the Coyotes, was named the winner of the Rimington Award as the top center, according to an announcement by the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Omaha, Neb., which sponsors the Rimington Award.

The Rimington Award is presented to the premier centers in each of the following divisions: Division 1-AA, Division II, Division III, and NAIA. The recipients of the Rimington Award are chosen by Don Hansen, who publishes the Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette. Hansen's publication reports on small college football divisions and has been in circulation since 1986.

In 2006, Morton, a junior from Norfolk, Neb., helped lead South Dakota (ranked 13th in the final American Football Coaches Association poll; and ninth in the final poll) to a 9-4 record and its first NCAA Division II playoff appearance and win in 20 years.

"Christian Morton is one of the leaders on our football team and one of the best offensive linemen in the country," said South Dakota Head Football Coach Ed Meierkort. "He is defined by his solid work ethic and drive and will attract attention of NFL scouts," said Meierkort.

Morton has received three All-American honors following the conclusion of the 2006 season, including first-team honors on the Don Hansen Football Gazette. Morton has been selected to the first team on and the first team of the Daktronics, Inc., squad. He was one of the eight finalists for the national Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award.

Morton anchored the nation's fourth-best rushing attack (253.4 yards per game). In fact, Morton helped USD gain 3,632 yards on the ground in 531 attempts for a per carry average of 6.2 yards. USD was third in the nation in average yards per rush and a half-yard better than the NCC's top rushing team Nebraska-Omaha at 5.58. Morton was also a key contributor on the league's top-scoring offense (32.8 ppg), which ranked 14th nationally. He was also part of the fifth-best offense in the nation (425.5 total offense yards).

A starter in 29 straight games at center including all 13 games in 2006, Morton recorded 59 pancake blocks in 13 games and has 110 in his two seasons as a starter. Morton graded out at 90 percent or better each game and was named USD's lineman of the week nine times in 13 weeks. Between Morton and former Coyote All-American Brian Alderson, USD has had three straight finalists (Alderson, 2004 and 2005) for the Gene Upshaw Award.