Editor’s note: Mike Shoff was a standout in football, wrestling and track and an honor-roll student during high school at Sutton and Cambridge. He won three consecutive state wrestling titles and had a 153-1 career record. He was the Journal Star Boys Prep Athlete of the Year in 2012. Shoff redshirted his first season at South Dakota State, and is the starting right guard this season. Shoff also plans to compete for the Jackrabbit track team this year. His family has now moved to York, where his father works for York Public Schools.
1. South Dakota State is one of the top teams in the Football Championship subdivision, and has a 3-0 record and No. 6 ranking following a 34-26 win against Southeastern Louisiana last week.
“South Dakota State is a great university. We’ve got great fans, and Brookings is one of the best sports towns there is. There is so much stuff around town and support for our football team and the Jackrabbits. It’s an exciting time. We’ve had some success in football, basketball and baseball. The buzz around is for South Dakota State, and it’s exciting.”
2. Last season, South Dakota State tied the school record with nine wins and advanced to the FCS playoffs for the second time in four years. The Jackrabbits lost to eventual champion North Dakota State in the second round, and finished with a 9-4 record and No. 14 final ranking. In 2010, Nebraska beat South Dakota State 17-3.
“We’ve had some success in the past. We’ve had a couple playoff berths in (NCAA) Division II, and, of course, two FCS playoff berths. There hasn’t been the constant winning tradition. That’s what (head coach John Stiegelmeier) and all the coaches here are trying, build that tradition of making the playoffs and winning championships. That’s our focus.”
3. There are 13 Nebraskans on the South Dakota State roster, including both the starting center (Taylor Suess of Columbus) and right guard (Shoff).
“All through my childhood, I always wanted to end up playing for the Huskers, and it didn’t work out. I’m excited I ended up coming to South Dakota State, and it was a great choice. It’s going to be awesome getting to play back in Nebraska and Memorial Stadium; that was always kind of a dream of mine. Of course, all my family that lives in the state can come and watch. It’s going to be pretty awesome.”
4. The Jackrabbits' offense is averaging 41 points per game. Junior running back Zach Zenner is averaging 180 yards rushing to lead all rushers nationally. Against North Dakota two weeks ago, Zenner rushed for 295 yards and three touchdowns.
“I have a biased opinion, but I think our offensive line is pretty strong. We’re deep, too. Zach Zenner is having a great year. (Quarterback) Austin Sumner and all of our receivers and tight ends are a really strong bunch.”
5. Four-time Super Bowl champion kicker Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts, and NFL Hall of Fame member Jim Langer are two of the most famous South Dakota State players.
“Jim Langer played for the Dolphins in the ‘70s, and when they went undefeated in ’72. He’s in the Hall of Fame, and we have his jersey up in our O-line room. He’s pretty famous.”