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

Position Player Year School
Wide Receiver Elijah Marks Senior Northern Arizona
Wide Receiver Keelan Doss Junior UC Davis
Wide Receiver Mitch Gueller Sophomore Idaho State
Tackle Iosua Opeta Junior Weber State
Tackle David Reese Senior Montana
Guard Skyler Phillips Senior Idaho State
Guard Tyler Shank Senior Northern Arizona
Center Zach Larsen Sophomore Southern Utah
Tight End *$Andrew Vollert Senior Weber State
Quarterback $Case Cookus Sophomore Northern Arizona
Running Back %John Santiago Junior North Dakota
Running Back James Madison Junior Idaho State
Fullback Jared Mohamed Senior Cal Poly
Kicker Trey Tuttle Freshman Weber State
Returner Rashid Shaheed Freshman Weber State
Position Player Year School
Tackle McKay Murphy Senior Weber State
Tackle Anu Pole’o Senior Southern Utah
End Ben Sorenson Senior Sacramento State
End George Obinna Junior Sacramento State
Outside Linebacker %Michael Needham Senior Southern Utah
Outside Linebacker Mac Bignell Senior Montana State
Inside Linebacker Mario Jenkins Senior Idaho State
Inside Linebacker LeGrand Toia Junior Weber State
Cornerback *Taron Johnson Senior Weber State
Cornerback Jarmaine Doubs Senior Southern Utah
Safety Wes Sutton Junior Northern Arizona
Safety Mister Harriel Junior Sacramento State
Punter Jordan Dascalo Senior Eastern Washington
Special Teams Brady May Junior Weber State
Position Player Year School
Wide Receiver Nic Sblendorio Senior Eastern Washington
Wide Receiver Alex Wesley Junior Northern Colorado
Wide Receiver Andre Lindsey Junior Sacramento State
Tackle Dylan Mahoney Senior Montana State
Tackle Marquez Tucker Junior Southern Utah
Guard Pailake Aiono Senior Sacramento State
Guard Tyshon Mosley Senior Portland State
Center Spencer Blackburn Junior Eastern Washington
Tight End Charlie Taumoepeau Sophomore Portland State
Quarterback Gage Gubrud Junior Eastern Washington
Running Back Antoine Custer Sophomore Eastern Washington
Running Back James Felila Sophomore Southern Utah
Fullback Brady May Junior Weber State
Kicker Devon Medeiros Junior Sacramento State
Returner Dre’Sonte Dorton Sophomore Eastern Washington
Position Player Year School
Tackle Augustino Elisaia Senior Cal Poly
Tackle Robert Torgenson Senior Southern Utah
End Albert Havili Senior Eastern Washington
End Tucker Schye Senior Montana
End Jonah Williams Sophomore Weber State
Outside Linebacker Josh Buss Junior Montana
Outside Linebacker Landon Stice Junior Weber State
Inside Linebacker James Banks Senior Montana
Inside Linebacker Chinedu Ahanonu Junior Southern Utah
Cornerback Xequille Harry Senior Weber State
Cornerback Khalil Dorsey Sophomore Northern Arizona
Safety Kam’ron Johnson Junior Northern Arizona
Safety Jordan Preator Junior Weber State
Punter Jered Padmos Sophomore Montana State
Special Teams Dante Olson Sophomore Montana
Position Player Year School
Wide Receiver Nsimba Webster Junior Eastern Washington
Wide Receiver Michael Dean Sophomore Idaho State
Wide Receiver Darnell Adams Senior Portland State
Tackle Jon Blade Senior Sacramento State
Tackle Chase Collins Senior Idaho State
Guard Baron Bruce Junior Weber State
Guard PJ Nu’usa Sophomore Southern Utah
Center Blake Porter Senior Northern Arizona
Tight End Wes Preece Sophomore UC Davis
Quarterback Jake Maier Sophomore UC Davis
Running Back Cory Young Junior Northern Arizona
Running Back Treshawn Garrett Junior Weber State
Fullback Sefesi Vaa’ivaka Senior Southern Utah
Kicker Brandon Purdy Sophomore Montana
Returner Xequille Harry Senior Weber State
Position Player Year School
Tackle Tank Harris Junior North Dakota
Tackle James Walton Senior Northern Arizona
End Kiefer Morris Junior Northern Colorado
End Taylor Pili Senior Southern Utah
Outside Linebacker Tanner Palmborg Junior North Dakota
Outside Linebacker Marcus Bruce Junior Sacramento State
Inside Linebacker Taylor Nelson Senior Southern Utah
Inside Linebacker Manoah Pearson Junior Sacramento State
Inside Linebacker Connor Strahm Senior Montana
Cornerback Dre Terrell Junior Sacramento State
Cornerback Ryan McKinley Senior Montana
Safety Mitch Fettig Junior Eastern Washington
Safety Bryson McCabe Senior Montana State
Punter Jake DeMaio Senior Weber State
Special Teams Anfernee Gurley Freshman Eastern 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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