Seven Dolphins earn first team all-PFL honors
Whenever you win a conference championship, there are a lot people that deserve credit for the title.

On Tuesday, 21 Dolphins were honored as all-Pioneer Football League selections with seven earning first team honors.

Headlining the honors was linebacker Mike Klein, who was named PFL Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.

Running back Rudell Small, offensive lineman Leonard Payton and wide receiver Josh Philpart were unanimous first team selections.

“This was a very special team and this shows the respect they have across the conference,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “With 21 guys earning recognition, it shows that we were not just a one-man show. This was a complete team effort this season.”

Joining the unanimous first team selections are J.J. Laster, offensive lineman Dustin Robinson, linebacker Joseph Fennell and defensive back Jordan Dewhirst.

Klein moved into the starting lineup midseason due to a season-ending injury to Layne McCombs and shined. He had 5.5 tackles for a loss, including 2.5 sacks, with 39 tackles – most of those coming in the last six games of the season.

Small and Laster were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the PFL in rushing yards all season, with Small becoming the first running back in program history to record three straight 1,000-yard seasons. It is Small’s third straight first team honor.

Philpart led the team with 48 receptions and 800 yards with 12 touchdown receptions, the second highest single-season total in JU history.

Payton earned first team all-conference honors for the second straight year, with Robinson receiving his first honor after anchoring the front five of the highest ranked offense in the country.

Fennell was second on the team in tackles with 63 and recorded a career-high two interceptions to move up from his second team selection in 2009.

Dewhirst led a much-improved JU secondary having an impressive sophomore season after moving from linebacker in the spring. He led the team with four interceptions, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

The second team featured tight end Chris Kuck, quarterback Josh McGregor, offensive linemen Kevin Halverson and Ian Osking, defensive lineman Bradley Burns and linebacker Will Perry.

JU placed seven on the honorable mention list – wide receiver Larry Thompson, defensive linemen Rolando Fines and Mike Mayoral, defensive backs Leonard Smith and Colby Walden, as well as return specialist Elliott Finkley.

Dayton’s Steve Valentio was named PFL Offensive Player of the Year, while Drake’s Dain Taylor was named PFL Defensive Player of the Year. Dayton’s Rick Chamberlin was named PFL Coach of the Year while Davidson’s Jonathan Carkhuff was named PFL Offensive Player of the Year.