ST. LOUIS – Coming off its first NCAA Playoff appearance since 1990, Missouri State football had seven student-athletes earn preseason All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors, the league announced today.
Montrae Braswell, a junior defensive back out of Avon Park, Fla., was MSU’s lone first-team Preseason All-MVFC selection. Braswell was selected to the All-MVFC first team for the 2020-21 season after racking up 41 tackles, 35 solo stops and seven passes defended in seven games played. As a sophomore, he was tied for second in the league with three interceptions and earned MVFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after scoring two touchdowns and recording six solo tackles against No. 21 South Dakota.
In addition to Braswell, the Bears had six players named to the Preseason All-MVFC second team, including: OL Landon Bebee, DL Kevin Ellis, DL Eric Johnson, DB Kyriq McDonald, PK Jose Pizano, and LB Tylar Wiltz.
Bebee, a junior offensive lineman, was named to the All-MVFC second team as a sophomore. He started the final eight games of the 2020-21 season, seven of which came at guard. Against Valley opponents, Bebee allowed just one sack and six pressures in 401 conference snaps.
A senior from Fort Worth, Texas, Ellis also earned All-MVFC second team honors for the 2020-21 season. A Bear co-captain as a junior, Ellis started nine games at defensive end and led the team with eight tackles for loss and six sacks on the year. He was named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week after forcing a fumble, recording a 30-yard interception return, and collecting a pair of sacks and six total tackles against Western Illinois.
Johnson, a redshirt senior defensive lineman, started all 10 games in the 2020-21 and extended his playing streak to 42 consecutive games. Last season, he was selected to the All-MVFC second team after collecting 27 total tackles, six TFL and 1.5 sacks. He also recorded three tackles and assisted on a TFL in the Bears’ NCAA FCS Playoff game at North Dakota.
McDonald, a senior safety out of Madison, Ala., earned second-team All-MVFC honors in his first season with MSU in 2020-21. In six games played, McDonald racked up 41 total tackles which tied him for the third-most tackles on the Bears defense. He also led the Bears with 35 solo tackles in conference play. With an average of 6.8 tackles per game, McDonald ranked 19th among all Valley defenders as a junior.
A junior kicker from Lehi, Utah, Jose Pizano ranked second in the MVFC last season in field goal percentage (.857) on 12-of-14 attempts en route to All-MVFC second team laurels. As a sophomore, Pizano led the Valley with a perfect PAT percentage (1.000, 13-for-13) in conference games. With eight field goals in league play, Pizano ranked second in the MVFC in field goal percentage (.889) on 8-of-9 attempts. He was named Valley Special Teams Player of the Week last season after making the game-winning field goal as time expired against Southern Illinois.
Wiltz, a senior linebacker from Breaux Bridge, La., led the Bears last season with 80 total tackles and 51 solo stops. Wiltz earned second-team All-MVFC honors after ranking 10th in the Valley with 7.3 tackles per game in conference action. His seven tackles for loss last season ranked third on the Bears defense and tied for ninth-most in the Valley. He was named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 12 solo tackles, three TFL and a QB hurry against Youngstown State. Wiltz recorded five total tackles and a TFL in the Bears’ NCAA FCS Playoff game at North Dakota.
Missouri State was also picked sixth in Tuesday’s MVFC preseason poll, which is the school’s highest selection since 2010, when the Bears were picked to finish fifth in the conference.
South Dakota State received 24 first-place votes and 454 total points to earn the title as preseason conference favorite, just head of North Dakota State with 18 first-place votes and 435 points. North Dakota (357), Southern Illinois (345) and Northern Iowa (311) rounded out the top five, the latter two of which were defeated by the Bears during the spring.
Following Missouri State (256) were Illinois State (196), South Dakota (163), Youngstown State (126), Indiana State (112) and Western Illinois (83) to round out the 11-team league.
In his first year at Missouri State in 2020-21, Bears head coach Bobby Petrino earned MVFC Coach of the Year and led MSU to a 5-1 conference record, a national ranking as high as No. 12 in the national FCS polls, and the team’s first NCAA Playoff appearance since 1990. He returns 18 starters from a squad that earned a share of the MVFC regular-season title.
Bears fans may secure 2021 season tickets by calling (417) 836-8899 or emailing DuaneMiller@missouristate.edu. The season ticket interest form may also be submitted to guarantee reserved seats for every home game in the upcoming campaign. Season ticket prices for the five-game home slate are $125 for chairback seats; $100 for bleacher-back seats; and $60 for bleacher seats.