Kennedy, Black earn All America honors

FILE: MSU senior center Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy was named the 2016 Rimington Award winner for NCAA Division II / Image Source: MSU Athletic Communications
FILE: MSU senior center Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy was named the 2016 Rimington Award winner for NCAA Division II / Image Source: MSU Athletic Communications

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State's Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy and DeAndre Black earned Don Hansen Football Gazette All-America honors as released Monday afternoon.

Kennedy earned second-team All-America honors to cap off a brilliant senior campaign.

The Hilo, Hawaii native earned the Rimington Award as the top center in NCAA Division II joining former teammate Marqui Christian as the lone Mustangs to earn top national honors. Christian, a fifth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, competes with the Los Angeles Rams after winning the Cliff Harris Award as the nation's top small college defensive player in 2015.

Kennedy became the fourth MSU player to earn American Football Coaches' Association All-America honors earlier this month as a second-team selection joining former two-time honoree Amini Silatolu (2010, 2011), was taken in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, standout running back Keidrick Jackson (2013) and Christian (2015).

Also a second-team D2SIDA/D2CCA All-Super Region Four pick, Kennedy earned first-team All-Lone Star Conference accolades last month while continuing MSU's "O-Line Pride" tradition by producing the sixth league offensive lineman of the year over the past seven seasons joining former All-American Amini Silatolu (2010, 2011), Ken Van Heule (2012), Shadow Stokes (2014) and Alfredo Moreno (2015).

Kennedy led an offensive line unit that paved the way for the second-best running attack in the LSC while ranking 37th nationally at 196.1 yards per game. He headed a unit that allowed 5.10 tackles for loss per game -- second in the LSC, 38th in NCAA II -- and 11 total sacks this season.

Black, a junior return specialist who earned second-team Hansen All-America honors, ranked second in NCAA Division II with 18.6 yards per return boasting three punt returns of at least 40 yards including a 67-yard return for a touchdown against UT-Permian Basin.

The transfer from Division I Monmouth rated second in the LSC with 605 combined kick return yards, while proving to be a force at wide receiver making 31 catches for 398 yards and four touchdowns.

Black was the lone Mustang to earn first-team All-Super Region Four honors through Hansen's Football Gazette, while Kennedy gained second-team honors.

Senior defensive lineman Darian Childers-Brown was also tabbed a second-teamer after making 42 tackles including team highs of 14 tackles for loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks. The Copperas Cove native recorded sacks in six consecutive games this season.

Senior offensive lineman Joel Onyia earned third-team all-region honors after gaining first-team All-LSC honors last fall.

The Don Hansen Division II All-America Team carries out the legacy of long-time small college football advocate Don Hansen, who passed away at age 75 on Aug. 29, 2010. Hansen, from Brookfield, Ill., started and published Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette for three decades, selecting NCAA Division II All-America teams for the first time in 1988.

The Don Hansen Football Committee selected All-Super Region teams following the season, with the first-team and second-team All-Super Region players advancing to the national ballot.

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