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Three Griz, One Bobcat placed on All-Big Sky Team

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The Big Sky Conference released their preseason all-conference teams. Three Montana Grizzly players made the list: Offensive Tackle David Reese, Wide Receiver Jerry Louie-McGee, and Outside Linebacker Josh Buss. One Montana State Bobcat player made the list as well, middle linebacker Mac Bignell.

Eastern Washington Quarterback Gage Gubrud was named the preseason offensive MVP. North Dakota safety Cole Reyes was named the preseason defensive MVP. 

Here is the press release this morning from the Big Sky Conference:

PARK CITY, Utah (July 17, 2017) – According to a select group of Big Sky media, the best players at the end of the 2016 season should be the best players in the 2017 season.

The Big Sky Conference announced its annual Preseason All-Conference Football Team Monday, a team that is selected by a group of Big Sky media members and sports information directors. The media selected Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while North Dakota safety Cole Reyes was selected as the league’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Both won the year-end categories for their respective sides of the football to end the 2016 season.

Gubrud, who was also the Big Sky’s First-Team quarterback at the end of last season, had a record-breaking season in Cheney, Wash., for the Eastern Washington Eagles. The sophomore threw for 5,160 yards, throwing for 48 touchdowns. He also rushed for 606 yards, leading EWU in rushing yards. Gubrud was a finalist for the STATS Walter Payton Award, along with former Eagles receiver Cooper Kupp.

Reyes won the Big Sky’s Defensive Player of the Year after a remarkable junior season, one where he made 70 tackles, along with three interceptions. Reyes helped lead North Dakota to its first-ever Big Sky title, as the Fighting Hawks tied with Eastern Washington at 8-0 in league play, along with the program’s first-ever appearance in the FCS playoffs.

Both Gubrud and Reyes were joined by several teammates on the Preseason All-Big Sky list. The Fighting Hawks led all schools with six selections, while Eastern Washington had three selections. Besides Reyes’s selection at safety, North Dakota placed offensive guard Demon Taylor, running backs John Santiago and Brady Oliveira, and cornerback Deion Harris. Santiago was a consensus selection at running back, and also was selected at the return specialist position. Eastern Washington’s other selections were defensive end Albert Havili and safety Mitch Fettig. 

Other Big Sky teams that qualified for the FCS playoffs also had multiple selections. Weber State, who qualified for the FCS postseason for the first time since 2009, placed four players on the list: tight end Andrew Vollert, inside linebacker Landon Stice, cornerback Taron Johnson and punter Jacob DeMaio. Vollert was a consensus pick for the list, after an All-American season in 2016 that saw him also earn the Big Sky’s Newcomer of the Year award. Vollert finished with 62 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns.

Cal Poly placed a pair of players on the team, with center Joey Kuperman and fullback Joe Protheroe making the list. Protheroe, who earned All-America honors at fullback, led the Big Sky Conference in rushing with 1,334 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. 

The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks are hoping to rebound from an injury-riddled season in 2016, and NAU will have the tools to do that as they placed three offensive players on the preseason team. Emmanuel Butler, the team’s best receiver, was a consensus selection to the list, after finishing with 1,003 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2016. Also making the list was offensive guard Tyler Shank and placekicker Griffin Roehler.

Montana is another Big Sky team trying to respond from a disappointing 2016 season. While Montana has a few question marks entering the 2017 season, the Griz will have no questions to answer at three positions: wide receiver, offensive tackle and outside linebacker. Jerry Louie-McGee represented the Griz as a wide receiver in one of the league’s most potent passing attacks, and had offensive tackle David Reese join him on the list. Also, Josh Buss represented Montana’s elite defense after making 81 tackles and 20 tackles-for-loss in 2016.

Speaking of elite defense, the Southern Utah Thunderbirds maintained their spot as one of the league’s best defensive units and the continued respect for SUU’s defense led to two Thunderbirds being selected to the list. Outside linebacker Mike Needham made the list, along with defensive tackle Robert Torgerson. Needham made 76 tackles in 2016 while Torgerson had 11 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble.

Entering Portland State coach Bruce Barnum’s third season, the Portland State Vikings had a pair of players represented in the preseason all-conference honors. The Vikings had offensive tackle Randin Crecelius and defensive tackle Anthony Del Toro make the list. Del Toro was named to the HERO Sports Freshman All-America team, posting 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his rookie season. 

Rounding out the linebacker core on the Big Sky’s preseason list was Montana State inside linebacker Mac Bignell. Bignell, a consistent interior stopper for the Bobcats, made 97 tackles and 14.5 tackles-for-loss in 2016.

Three other schools placed a single player on the list. Sacramento State placed defensive end Ben Sorensen, UC Davis placed receiver Keelan Doss and Northern Colorado’s Hakeem Deggs was named as the league’s special teams player.

Several of the preseason team’s selections are representing their programs at the Big Sky Football Kickoff, including: Gubrud, Butler, Reyes, Johnson, Protheroe and Deggs.

The Big Sky’s Preseason All-Conference Football Team is selected by a mixture of television, radio, and print media, along with institutional sports information directors from around the Big Sky Conference. Coaches do not vote for the preseason list.

#BigSkyFB Preseason All-Conference Team

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year

Cole Reyes, North Dakota

Position

Player

Quarterback

Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington

Wide Receiver

Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona (Consensus); Keelan Doss, UC Davis; Jerry Louie-McGee, Montana

Offensive Tackle

David Reese, Montana; Randin Crecelius, Portland State

Offensive Guard

Tyler Strank, Northern Arizona; Demon Taylor, North Dakota

Center

Joey Kuperman, Cal Poly

Tight End

Andrew Vollert, Weber State (Consensus)

Running Back

John Santiago, North Dakota (Consensus); Brady Oliveira, North Dakota

Fullback

Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly

Placekicker

Griffin Roehler, Northern Arizona

Return Specialist

John Santiago, North Dakota

Defensive Tackle

Robert Torgerson, Southern Utah; Anthony Del Toro, Portland State

Defensive End

Albert Havili, Eastern Washington; Ben Sorensen, Sacramento State

Outside Linebacker

Mike Needham, Southern Utah; Josh Buss, Montana

Inside Linebacker

Mac Bignell, Montana State; Landon Stice, Weber State

Cornerback

Deion Harris, North Dakota; Taron Johnson, Weber State

Safety

Cole Reyes, North Dakota (Consensus); Mitch Fettig, Eastern Washington

Punter

Jacob DeMaio, Weber State

Special Teams Player

Hakeem Deggs, Northern Colorado 

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