Year after year, season after season, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association proves itself one of the premier football conferences in Division II.

Year after year, season after season, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association proves itself one of the premier football conferences in Division II.

Now, with the season opening Thursday for nine MIAA schools, we take a look at 10 of the top returning players in the conference.

Marlon Douglas, Central Missouri (CB)
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior from Memphis, Tenn., earned All-MIAA first team last year, as he tied for the Mules' team lead in interceptions (four) and led Central Missouri in pass breakups (eight). Douglas, a very capable wide receiver at White Station High School, converted two of his interceptions into touchdowns last year, against Missouri Western and Nebraska-Omaha. His two interception returns for touchdown tied a school record. Douglas made 49 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Nate Dreiling, Pittsburg State (LB)
As a redshirt freshman, Dreiling announced his presence on the NCAA Division II scene last year by leading the nation with 160 tackles (73 solo, 87 loss). He averaged over 13 tackles per game and recorded double-digit tackles in 11 of 12 games, with his only sub-10 tackle performance coming against Central Oklahoma in the season opener. Against Central Oklahoma, Dreiling made nine stops. His season high was 18 against Missouri Southern.

Michael Elliott, Truman State (DB)
Elliott led Truman State in tackles last year with 91 (50 solo, 41 assist), over 30 tackles ahead of the next-highest Truman tackler. Elliott intercepted three passes (tied for eighth — MIAA), added one sack, forced three fumbles (tied for first — MIAA) and recovered two fumbles (tied for second — MIAA). Against Pitt State, Elliott recorded six tackles.

Michael Hill, Missouri Western (RB)
A hometown kid from St. Joseph, Mo., Hill (5-11, 205) led the Griffons in rushing last year with 704 yards on 172 carries and earned All-MIAA honorable mention. He added 27 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, Hill established two career-high individual games: 130 yards receiving against Washburn (Sept. 18) and 146 yards rushing against Nebraska-Omaha (Nov. 6). Hill rushed for 792 yards and eight touchdowns on 180 carries as a redshirt freshman in 2009.

Chad Kilgore, Northwest Missouri State (LB)
Kilgore has led the Bearcats in tackles two straight years, 96 in 2009 and 131 in 2010. His 2010 season high was 15 tackles against Central Missouri in the Division II playoffs. Kilgore went over 10 tackles six times, added three sacks and returned an interception for a touchdown last year. His career total is 269 tackles.

Derek Lohmann, Emporia State (DB)
This fourth-year junior led the MIAA in interceptions as a sophomore by virtue of his .45 interceptions per game average, picking off five passes in 11 games. Lohmann returned his five interceptions for 66 yards (62 yards on a single return) and made 40 tackles during an All-MIAA second team season.

Dane Simoneau, Washburn (QB)
A two-sport standout (football, baseball) during his time at Washburn, Simoneau the football player already holds 20 school career and single season records and enters his senior year ninth on the MIAA's all-time passing chart. He's passed for over 300 yards 10 times and threw a school-record six touchdown passes against Pitt State in 2009. Last year, Simoneau broke his own school record for passing yards in a season, throwing for 3,459 yards; he added school records for completions (223) and touchdowns (33).

Jake Soy, Northwest Missouri (WR)
Soy was the only active Northwest Missouri or Pitt State player selected to the recently announced Fall Classic All-Decade Team and enters his senior year already tied for the conference's all-time touchdowns receiving mark (40). His banner season was as a sophomore in 2009 when he led the nation in receiving yards (1,559) and touchdowns (27). Soy caught 92 passes as a sophomore and 83 passes for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. He ranks 10th on the MIAA's career receiving chart.

Alex Whitehill, Fort Hays State (LB)
Whitehill led Fort Hays State in tackles with 118 (56 solo, 62 assist) as a junior last year and made 13 stops against Pitt State, matching Dreiling's total. Whitehill averaged 10.7 tackles per game, second-highest in the conference behind Dreiling.

Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern (DL)
This fourth-year junior (6-3, 325) had an outstanding sophomore season last year, leading Missouri Southern and sharing the MIAA lead with nine sacks. Williams recorded six tackles and two sacks against Pitt State last year.