RICHARDSON, Texas – West Texas A&M football star Dustin Vaughan and Lady Buff volleyball standout Laura Iwuchukwu were selected as the 2014 Lone Star Conference Fred Jacoby Academic Athletes of the Year. The awards were announced Monday following a vote of the league’s sports information directors.
Vaughan, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, earned the prestigious honor for the second year in a row, while Iwuchukwu earned her first honor. This is the third year WT has won on the men’s side in the seven-year history of the award bearing the name of Jacoby, the long-time LSC commissioner who passed away in March 2008. Vaughan is the second Buff to earn the honor (Tyler Cooper, 2008, Men’s Basketball). On the women’s side, it is the fourth honor for WT and Iwuchukwu is the second winner from volleyball as Lauren Thedford earned the honor in 2011. Former Lady Buff basketball standout Emily Brister won in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009.
Following Vaughan in the standings, Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Denver Diefenbach (baseball) was second, followed by West Texas A&M sophomore golfer Ethan Peterson. On the women’s side, Texas Woman’s softball standout Bailey Vrazel, who had won the honor the past two seasons, finished second followed by her teammate Kendra Sancet.
A senior biology/pre-medicine major, Vaughan capped his outstanding career as the only quarterback at any level this season to pass for over 5,000 yards with 5,401, which are the most all-time in Division II. He led the nation in passing and was second in passing yards per game at 385.7. Vaughan’s 53 touchdown passes were the best in the nation and the most in league and school history in a season, as well as being the third-most all-time in Division II. For his career, he owns the school and conference records for passing yards, (13,525), total yards (13,608) and touchdowns (123).
He is a two-time LSC Offensive Player of the Year, finished runner-up in the prestigious Harlon Hill Award and earned American Football Coaches Association All-America honors this season as he helped guide the Buffs to an 11-3 record and a berth in the NCAA Quarterfinals. He was tabbed LSC Academic Player of the Year for a second time in 2013, a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America selection and was the 2012 CoSIDA Academic Division II Football Player of the Year. Vaughan also earned an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete. He recently signed a free-agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
An elementary education major from Edmond, Okla., Iwuchukwu evolved into one of the most feared middle blockers not only in the Lone Star Conference, but in all of NCAA Division II volleyball during her senior campaign in 2013. She registered 366 kills (2.67/set) to go along with 29 digs while leading all of Division II in total blocks with 220 (28 solo, 192 assisted) for an incredible average of 1.61 per frame to lead the nation. Iwuchukwu's 192 assisted blocks on the season set a new WT single-season record previously held by Erin Dougherty's 157 during the 2011 campaign.
Iwuchukwu, the LSC Defensive Player of the Year, was named to the Daktronics First Team All-South Central Region, as well as the AVCA First Team All-South Central Region, Daktronics First team All-America and AVCA Second Team All-America.
Academically, she was named the Lone Star Conference Academic Player of the Year while picking up Capital One Academic First Team All-America accolades for her efforts in the classroom.
The Lady Buffs finished the 2013 season ranked fifth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II Top-25 Poll as they made the program’s 24th appearance in the NCAA Postseason with a run to the National Semifinals finishing the season 35-4. WT claimed the program’s 18th overall Lone Star Conference Championship with a perfect 16-0 league record, before earning its 15th overall and eighth straight LSC Tournament Championship.
LSC MALE ACADEMIC ATHLETE OF YEAR (Name, School, Sport, Points): Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M, Football, 20; Denver Diefenbach, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Baseball, 15; Ethan Peterson, West Texas A&M, Golf, 4; Kyle Lantz, Eastern New Mexico, Basketball, 4; Dylan Doss, West Texas A&M, Cross Country, 3; Baptiste Moreu, West Texas A&M, Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field, 2; Marcus Sanna, Texas A&M-Commerce, Golf, 0.
LSC FEMALE ACADEMIC ATHLETE OF YEAR (Name, School, Sport, Points): Laura Iwuchukwu, West Texas A&M, Volleyball, 14; Bailey Vrazel, Texas Woman's, Softball, 11; Kendra Sancet, Texas Woman's, Softball, 6; Brionna Minde, Texas A&M-Commerce, Soccer, 5; Hillari Adam, Angelo State, Basketball, 5; Sharon Lau, Tarleton State, Golf, 5; Ewa Zaborowska, Harding, Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field, 4; Emma Love, West Texas A&M, Cross Country, 3; Ivana Zecevic, Tarleton State, Tennis, 1.
Fred Jacoby Academic Athletes of the Year
Year Male Female
2014 Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M (football) Laura Iwuchukwu, West Texas A&M, (volleyball)
2013 Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M (football) Bailey Vrazel, Texas Woman’s (softball)
2012 Zack Cohen, Angelo State (baseball) Bailey Vrazel, Texas Woman’s (softball)
2011 Kirk Jewasko, Incarnate Word (baseball) Lauren Thedford, West Texas A&M (volleyball)
2010 Brad Rutherford, Abilene Christian (baseball) Lauren Craig, Midwestern State (softball)
2009 Andrew Foshee, Central Oklahoma baseball) Emily Brister, West Texas A&M (basketball)
2008 Tyler Cooper, West Texas A&M (basketball) Emily Brister, West Texas A&M (basketball)