Big Sky announces 2017 awards, all-conference teams



UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss and Weber State cornerback Taron Johnson were named the Big Sky Conference Offensive and Defensive MVPs, respectively, the league announced on Tuesday afternoon.

The All-Conference teams and individual award winners were selected by the 13 league head coaches and released by the league.

Doss was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player. Doss, a candidate for the Walter Payton Award, finished the regular season as the top wide receiver in the nation among all Division I FBS and FCS players in receiving yards (1,499), receiving yards per game (136.3) and receptions per game (10.5).

Johnson was voted as the Defensive Most Valuable Player. Johnson, the only unanimous selection to the defensive first team, helped lead the Wildcats to a share of the Big Sky title in his final season. He finished the regular season with 30 tackles, 3.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks, 10 passes defended, and three interceptions for a total of 59 yards.

Offensive Player of the Year: Keelan Doss, UC Davis

Defensive Player of the Year: Taron Johnson, Weber State

Freshman of the Year: Troy Andersen, Montana State

Newcomer of the Year: Jake Maier, UC Davis

UC Davis junior wide receiver Keelan Doss/ by Wayne Tilcock, Davis athletics

Additional top honors went to Aggie sophomore quarterback Jake Maier for Newcomer of the Year. The sophomore finished his season ranked second in the FCS in completion percentage (.686), third in passing yards (3,669) and fifth in passing yards per game (333.5).

Freshman of the Year honors went to double threat Troy Andersen, who plays running back and linebacker for Montana State. He notched 515 rushing yards to go along with five touchdowns on the ground and a touchdown reception. On defense he had nine tackles and a sack for the Bobcats.

Southern Utah outside linebacker Michael Needham and North Dakota running back John Santiago were the only three-time first-team All-Big Sky honorees.

Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus and Weber State tight end Andrew Vollert were named two-time first-team honorees. Vollert was also the only offensive player voted as a unanimous First Team selection. Both players will lead their teams in the FCS Playoffs.

Co-conference champion Weber State placed eight players on the first team. Idaho State, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah all had four players receive first team honors. In all, 11 of the 13 conferences teams had at least one player selected to the first team.

Montana landed a total of 13 players on the various teams, including senior left tackle David Reese earning first-team All-Big Sky honors. The four-year starter started 46 straight games for the Griz.

Montana defensive end Tucker Schye/by Brooks Nuanez

UM saw senior defensive end Tucker Schye earn second-team all-league honors after leading the league with 15.5 tackles for loss and ranking fourth in the Big Sky with 7.5 sacks. Junior linebacker Josh Boss, a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award after notching 94 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions, along with Montana senior linebacker James Banks, the Big Sky’s leading tackler with 111 stops, joined Schye on the second team.

Montana sophomore Dante Olson earned second-team honors as a special teams player. UM kicker Brandon Purdy hit 15 field goals, second to Weber State’s first-team all-league freshman Trey Tuttle’s league-leading 16, and earned third-team All-Big Sky recognition.

Connor Strahm piled up 88 tackles and 11 tackles for loss to earn third-team honors despite missing the first two games of his senior season because of suspension. Senior cornerback Ryan McKinley led the league in pass breakups with 13 and passes defended with 15 to earn third-team honors.

Junior wide receiver Keenan Curran, sophomore wide receiver Jerry Louie-McGee, senior right guard Robert Luke, senior center Cooper Sprunk and junior running back Jeremy Calhoun all landed on the honorable mention list on offense. Louie-McGee also earned honorable mention recognition as a punt returner. Montana redshirt freshman quarterback Gresch Jensen, who started for the duration of Big Sky play and threw for 2,531 yards and 20 touchdowns, received no recognition.

Montana State landed eight players on the list highlighted by senior Mac Bignell’s third straight selection, including his first to the first-team. The senior from Drummond led the Bobcats with 93 tackles, including 62 solo stops, 14.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception he returned for a touchdown in MSU’s win over Idaho State.

Montana State linebacker Mac Bignell/by Brooks Nuanez

MSU senior captain left tackle Dylan Mahoney earned second-team All-Big Sky honors. He started all 11 games in his senior season for the 5-6 Bobcats. MSU punter Jered Padmos earned second-team honors after averaging 42.5 yards per punt, just short of EWU’s Jordan Dascalo (42.6 ypp) for the league’s best average.

Montana State senior captain strong safety Bryson McCabe earned third-team honors, his second All-Big Sky recognition after notching 87 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, snaring an interception and breaking up six passes.

Other Bobcats who earned honorable mention all-league recognition includes senior wide receiver Mitch Herbert, junior center Alex Neale and junior defensive tackles Zach Wright and Tucker Yates. Sophomore quarterback Chris Murray, the league’s second-leading rusher after piling up an all-time record rushing mark for a quarterback with 1,124 yards to go with 10 touchdowns, received no recognition.

Weber State led all schools with 16 honorees on the three teams, followed by Southern Utah (12), Eastern Washington (10), Sacramento State (10), and Northern Arizona (9).

Counting honorable mention, Southern Utah landed 22 players on the list, followed by 18 for Weber, 15 for NAU, 13 for Sac State, Montana and Eastern Washington and 10 for Idaho State.

The Big Sky All-Conference team is selected by the Big Sky’s head football coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. The conference’s Coach of the Year award will be announced on Wednesday.


* – Unanimous All-First Team Selection

$ – Two-Time All-Big Sky First Team Selection

% – Three-Time All-Big Sky First Team Selection

Wide ReceiverElijah MarksSeniorNorthern Arizona
Wide ReceiverKeelan DossJuniorUC Davis
Wide ReceiverMitch GuellerSophomoreIdaho State
TackleIosua OpetaJuniorWeber State
TackleDavid ReeseSeniorMontana
GuardSkyler PhillipsSeniorIdaho State
GuardTyler ShankSeniorNorthern Arizona
CenterZach LarsenSophomoreSouthern Utah
Tight End*$Andrew VollertSeniorWeber State
Quarterback$Case CookusSophomoreNorthern Arizona
Running Back%John SantiagoJuniorNorth Dakota
Running BackJames MadisonJuniorIdaho State
FullbackJared MohamedSeniorCal Poly
KickerTrey TuttleFreshmanWeber State
ReturnerRashid ShaheedFreshmanWeber State
TackleMcKay MurphySeniorWeber State
TackleAnu Pole’oSeniorSouthern Utah
EndBen SorensonSeniorSacramento State
EndGeorge ObinnaJuniorSacramento State
Outside Linebacker%Michael NeedhamSeniorSouthern Utah
Outside LinebackerMac BignellSeniorMontana State
Inside LinebackerMario JenkinsSeniorIdaho State
Inside LinebackerLeGrand ToiaJuniorWeber State
Cornerback*Taron JohnsonSeniorWeber State
CornerbackJarmaine DoubsSeniorSouthern Utah
SafetyWes SuttonJuniorNorthern Arizona
SafetyMister HarrielJuniorSacramento State
PunterJordan DascaloSeniorEastern Washington
Special TeamsBrady MayJuniorWeber State
Wide ReceiverNic SblendorioSeniorEastern Washington
Wide ReceiverAlex WesleyJuniorNorthern Colorado
Wide ReceiverAndre LindseyJuniorSacramento State
TackleDylan MahoneySeniorMontana State
TackleMarquez TuckerJuniorSouthern Utah
GuardPailake AionoSeniorSacramento State
GuardTyshon MosleySeniorPortland State
CenterSpencer BlackburnJuniorEastern Washington
Tight EndCharlie TaumoepeauSophomorePortland State
QuarterbackGage GubrudJuniorEastern Washington
Running BackAntoine CusterSophomoreEastern Washington
Running BackJames FelilaSophomoreSouthern Utah
FullbackBrady MayJuniorWeber State
KickerDevon MedeirosJuniorSacramento State
ReturnerDre’Sonte DortonSophomoreEastern Washington
TackleAugustino ElisaiaSeniorCal Poly
TackleRobert TorgensonSeniorSouthern Utah
EndAlbert HaviliSeniorEastern Washington
EndTucker SchyeSeniorMontana
EndJonah WilliamsSophomoreWeber State
Outside LinebackerJosh BussJuniorMontana
Outside LinebackerLandon SticeJuniorWeber State
Inside LinebackerJames BanksSeniorMontana
Inside LinebackerChinedu AhanonuJuniorSouthern Utah
CornerbackXequille HarrySeniorWeber State
CornerbackKhalil DorseySophomoreNorthern Arizona
SafetyKam’ron JohnsonJuniorNorthern Arizona
SafetyJordan PreatorJuniorWeber State
PunterJered PadmosSophomoreMontana State
Special TeamsDante OlsonSophomoreMontana
Wide ReceiverNsimba WebsterJuniorEastern Washington
Wide ReceiverMichael DeanSophomoreIdaho State
Wide ReceiverDarnell AdamsSeniorPortland State
TackleJon BladeSeniorSacramento State
TackleChase CollinsSeniorIdaho State
GuardBaron BruceJuniorWeber State
GuardPJ Nu’usaSophomoreSouthern Utah
CenterBlake PorterSeniorNorthern Arizona
Tight EndWes PreeceSophomoreUC Davis
QuarterbackJake MaierSophomoreUC Davis
Running BackCory YoungJuniorNorthern Arizona
Running BackTreshawn GarrettJuniorWeber State
FullbackSefesi Vaa’ivakaSeniorSouthern Utah
KickerBrandon PurdySophomoreMontana
ReturnerXequille HarrySeniorWeber State
TackleTank HarrisJuniorNorth Dakota
TackleJames WaltonSeniorNorthern Arizona
EndKiefer MorrisJuniorNorthern Colorado
EndTaylor PiliSeniorSouthern Utah
Outside LinebackerTanner PalmborgJuniorNorth Dakota
Outside LinebackerMarcus BruceJuniorSacramento State
Inside LinebackerTaylor NelsonSeniorSouthern Utah
Inside LinebackerManoah PearsonJuniorSacramento State
Inside LinebackerConnor StrahmSeniorMontana
CornerbackDre TerrellJuniorSacramento State
CornerbackRyan McKinleySeniorMontana
SafetyMitch FettigJuniorEastern Washington
SafetyBryson McCabeSeniorMontana State
PunterJake DeMaioSeniorWeber State
Special TeamsAnfernee GurleyFreshmanEastern Washington


Montana wide receiver Keenan Curran with one of his seven touchdown catches this season/by Jason Bacaj

Wide Receiver – Keenan Curran, Montana; Jerry Louie-McGee, Montana; Mitch Herbert, Montana State; Isaiah Hennie, Sacramento State; Landen Measom, Southern Utah; Drew Batchelor, Weber State.

Tackle – Brian Fineanganofo, Idaho State; Cole Habib, Northern Arizona; Randin Crecelius, Portland State; Kyle Sulka, UC Davis; Tyler Downs, Weber State.

Guard – Tristen Taylor, Eastern Washington; Robert Luke, Montana; Wyatt Ming, Sacramento State; Julian Bertero, UC Davis.

Center – Joey Kuperman, Cal Poly; Cooper Sprunk, Montana; Alex Neale, Montana State.

Tight End – Logan Parker, Southern Utah.

Quarterback – Patrick Tyler, Southern Utah.

Running Back – Sam McPherson, Eastern Washington; Ty Flanagan, Idaho State; Jeremy Calhoun, Montana; Brady Oliveira, North Dakota; Joe Logan, Northern Arizona; Jay Green, Southern Utah.

Placekicker – Reid Taubenheim, North Dakota.

Return Specialist – Jerry Louie-McGee, Montana; John Santiago, North Dakota.

Montana State junior defensive tackle Tucker Yates/ by Brooks Nuanez

Tackle – JonRyheem Peoples, Idaho State; Zach Wright, Montana State; Tucker Yates, Montana State; Khairi Bailey, Northern Colorado; Dariyn Choates, Sacramento State.

End – Clarence Smith, Northern Arizona; Chance Bearnson, Southern Utah; Brandon Weaver, UC Davis.

Outside Linebacker – Darren Adjei, Cal Poly; Beau Duronslet, Portland State; Immanuel Anderson, Sacramento State; Kyle Tauili’ili, Southern Utah.

Inside Linebacker – Byron Evans, Northern Arizona; Taylor Powell, Northern Arizona; Henry Stelzner, Northern Colorado; Ryan Bua, UC Davis.

Cornerback – Josh Lewis, Eastern Washington; Maurice Davison, Northern Arizona; Marshaun Cameron, Northern Colorado; Donovan Olumba, Portland State; Vince White, UC Davis.

Safety – B.J. Nard, Cal Poly; Stone Kane, Northern Colorado; Tyler Collett, Southern Utah; Mitch Dalley, Southern Utah.

Punter – Casey Sublette, Cal Poly; Rashaan Miller, Southern Utah.

Special Teams Player – Andy Whittier, Idaho State; Mitchell Thompson, Portland State; Alan Holsten, Southern Utah.

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