ST. LOUIS -- South Dakota State University running back Pierre Strong, Jr. was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman of the Year Wednesday afternoon, becoming the fourth Jackrabbit in the last eight seasons to earn the award. The selection is based upon a vote among the league's 10 head coaches, sports information directors and select media.
A redshirt freshman from Little Rock, Arkansas, Strong closed the second half of the conference schedule with three consecutive 100-yard games to take over the team lead in rushing with 777 yards. He is averaging 11.6 yards per carry and all eight of his rushing touchdowns covered at least 24 yards.
Strong was honored as MVFC Newcomer of the Week after each of the last two games of the regular season, rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns at Southern Illinois on Nov. 10, followed by a career-best 253 yards on only 17 carries with three more scores in the Nov. 17 matchup with South Dakota.
He joins Austin Sumner (2011), Jake Wieneke (2014) and Christian Rozeboom (2016) as Jackrabbits to win the MVFC Freshman of the Year award.
In other awards announced Wednesday by league officials, North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick edged SDSU signal-caller Taryn Christion for MVFC Offensive Player of the Year honors, while Bison linebacker Jabril Cox was selected as the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year. Indiana State collected two awards as quarterback Ryan Boyle was honored as MVFC Newcomer of the Year and Curt Mallory was tabbed as Bruce Craddock Coach of the Year.
South Dakota State, 8-2 overall, has earned its seventh consecutive berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The fifth-seeded Jackrabbits received a first-round bye and will host a second-round game Dec. 1 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium against the winner of Saturday's first-round matchup between Duquesne and Towson.