LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Senior Dylan Stepleton (Tipton, Iowa/Wilton) has been named a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, presented to the nation's top small college defensive player.
The Cliff Harris Award will be presented for the fourth-straight year by the Little Rock Touchdown Club and Wright, Lindsey and Jennings. The award is presented to the top small college defensive player in the country from NCAA Divisions II and II, along with NAIA colleges and universities. Stepleton is one of 81 finalists for the award and one of just 29 from NCAA Division III. Morningside's Luke Gibbs is the only other player from a school in the state of Iowa on the list.
An overall winner will be announced on Dec. 24 and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet on Jan. 19, 2017, featuring guest speaker Archie Manning. The winner will receive the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy, presented by Cliff Harris. In addition to the overall winner, the top vote getters from each division will be announced. A prestigious group of former college and pro football greats serve on the Cliff Harris Award committee.
Already this year, Stepleton has earned All-American honors from the AFCA (First Team) and D3football.com (Second Team). Stepleton was a D3football.com All-West Region First Team selection. The Iowa Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Stepleton was also an All-Iowa Conference First Team selection.
Stepleton had one of the best years in school history in the secondary, ranking second in NCAA Division III with nine interceptions. He also ranked second in all four NCAA divisions in interceptions. He finishes his career ranked second in school history in interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) and sixth with 14 career picks. His two pick sixes this year are tied for the second-most in school history, as are his nine interceptions. He finished the season with a career-high 70 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss and 15 pass deflections. Stepleton had 182 tackles in his career, including 122 solo stops. He finished his career with 10 tackles for a loss and 32 pass deflections.
The Kohawks finished the season with a school-record 11 wins and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs for the third time in school history.