Connor Niles, a 5-11, 195 lb. junior wide receiver from Sioux City, is the Hauff Mid-America Sports/Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the fourth-ranked Mustangs’ 56-16 victory against Hastings College.
Niles returned a kickoff 53 yards to the Broncos’ 35-yard line to set up the Mustangs’ first touchdown of the game after Hastings had taken an early 3-0 lead. The Mustangs scored on the first play after the kickoff return on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Trent Solsma to Niles.
Niles’ 53-yard return against Hastings was the Mustangs’ longest kick return of the season. He finished the game with two kickoff returns for 67 yards and had eight pass receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Niles’ 94 reception yards raised his career total to 3159 yards to move within 118 yards of the Morningside record of 3277 career reception yards by Beau Kildow, who played at Morningside from 2006-09.
Niles also received the GPAC Special Teams Player of the Week award after he returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown in the Mustangs’ 35-30 victory against NCAA Division II Truman State. It was the Mustangs’ first touchdown on a punt return since Niles had a 67-yard TD return against Midland during the 2015 season.
Niles is the Mustangs’ top pass receiver with 56 receptions for 908 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with five punt returns for a 35.4-yard average and 10 kickoff returns for a 24.6-yard average. He ranks second nationally in the NAIA with averages of 192.9 all-purpose yards, 129.7 pass reception yards and 8.0 pass receptions per game and is the nation’s ninth leading scorer with 78 points.
Morningside will take an 8-0 record into this Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game against Midland University.