ST. LOUIS — South Dakota freshmen Nate Thomas, Nick Gaes and Josiah Ganues have been selected to the 2021 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team as voted on by the league’s head coaches, sports information directors and members of the media. It is the third time South Dakota has placed at least three on the team.
Thomas (South Holland, Ill.) is a true freshman walk-on who led the Coyotes and ranks seventh in the Valley in rushing with 717 yards. He did that despite not making his debut until week three. Thomas averaged 6.3 yards per carry, which ranks 16th nationally, and scored five touchdowns. He caught 13 passes for 69 yards. Thomas eclipsed 100 yards rushing twice this season and needed just 11 carries to get there both times.
Gaes (Alta, Iowa), a defensive tackle, finished third in voting for Valley Freshman of the Year. He led the conference with 7.0 sacks (all solo) in Valley play and was third in the league with 8.0 tackles-for-loss. He had at least one sack in six of eight conference games, and finished as the team’s sixth-leading tackler with 35 stops. He also led the team with six quarterback hurries.
Ganues (Miramar, Fla.) started 10 games at free safety and finished as the team’s ninth-leading tackler despite missing nearly all of the final three games due to injury. He returned a fumble 65 yards to setup a key score against Northern Iowa. He had a season-high six tackles and forced a fumble at Missouri State.