Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON- Seven UMHB football players found their names listed amongst the best in D-III when the Associated Press released its All-America teams Thursday afternoon. And UMHB women’s soccer’s Maria Rico was named an Scholar All-America just minutes later by the United Soccer Coaches.
Leading UMHB on the AP Football First Team was K.J. Miller, Sante Parker Jr. and Titus Dunk. Miller, the lone offensive representative, was named First Team as a return specialist, finishing his collegiate career in 2022 as the NCAA’s all-time leader in punt return yardage (1,707). He averaged 26.3 yards per kickoff return and 13.9 yards per punt return in 2022.
Parker, the D3football.com Region 3 Defensive Player of the Year, tallied a team-best 19 tackles for loss for 85 yards, along with 9.5 sacks and 54 total tackles. Parker was also the ASC’s Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year. Dunk, who came up with a key interception in the third-round playoff win over Bethel, had two interceptions, four pass breakups and 45 solo tackles. His 62 total tackles ranked fifth on the team.
Quarterback Kyle King, offensive lineman Ethan Ruckman, and kicker Anthony Avila represented the offense on the AP’s Second Team. King, an All-America selection by the AFCA, set new program records for passing yards, touchdown passes, completions, and attempts during his senior year, while Ruckman guided an offensive line that gave King plenty of time to complete those record-setting passes. Ruckman tallied 54 pancake blocks and allowed just one sack in 282 attempts as the ASC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year. Avila was 15-of-19 on field goals, with a long of 44-yards. He was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts between 40-49 yards.
Durand Hill was the lone defensive player selected to the Second Team. At linebacker, Hill did a little bit of everything for the Crusader defense, with 71 solo tackles and 124 total tackles. His 11 pass breakups ranked No. 1 on the team, and he had two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
News of Rico’s Scholar All-America selection came shortly after, as the senior forward was selected to the USC’s Third Team. She graduated with a 3.88 GPA as a pre-med major and also led UMHB to a 17-1-1 record this past fall. She was a two-time ASC Offensive Player of the Year in her four-year collegiate career.