Gresch Jensen continued earning national recognition Monday afternoon. Montana’s redshirt freshman quarterback earned Freshman first-team All-American honors from Hero Sports.
Jensen started all but one Big Sky Conference game for the Griz, who finished 5-3 in league play, 7-4 overall. Jensen earned the Grizzlies’ Steve Carlson Award for offensive MVP by throwing for 2,531 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 253 yards per game in 10 games. But in his seven games as a starter his average went up exponentially, averaging 332.3 yards per game. Jensen missed UM’s 17-15 win over Northern Arizona due to a head injury suffered late in a loss to Weber State.
The Auburn, Washington native finished third in voting for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award for the national Freshman of the Year. Jensen earned 18 first-place votes and 237 total points to finish 198 points ahead of Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year Troy Anderson of Montana State – the only other finalist from the league – who finished at No. 13 in the voting. Andersen was a Freshman first-team All-American from Hero Sports as an all-purpose player.
Kennesaw State linebacker Bryson Armstrong became the first defensive player to win the Rice Award, edging Yale running back Zane Dudek by a single point in the voting (347-346) for the nation’s top freshman. Both earned Hero Sports Freshman All-American honors.
Against North Dakota, Jensen set a new school record for passing yards by a freshman with 423, eclipsing the best freshman games by former Griz standouts such as Dave Dickenson, Marty Mornhinweg, and Jordan Johnson.
Andersen and Jensen are joined by Southern Utah wide receiver Brady Measom, Eastern Washington special teams specialist Anfernee Gurley and the Weber State trio of kicker Trey Tuttle, offensive lineman Tyler Downs and return specialist Rashid Shaheed on the first team.
As a true freshman, Tuttle became the first Weber State placekicker in 20 years to earn first-team All-Big Sky honors. He hit 19-of-22 field goals, including eight of his 10 attempts between 30 and 39 yards and both of his attempts of more than 40. He also hit 53 of his 53 extra point attempts and scored 116 points.
Shaheed averaged 29.7 yards on 25 kick returns, scoring two touchdowns, including one of 100 yards as Weber State’s special teams units helped the Wildcats to their first Big Sky championship since 2008. He was a first-team All-Big Sky selection.
Downs originally signed with Weber State in February of 2015 before serving a two-year LDS Church Mission. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder started all 11 regular-season games at right tackle but missed Weber’s three playoff games with an injury. He was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection.
Measom led Southern Utah to a share of its second Big Sky title in three seasons by leading the team with 54 catches and 613 yards. His four touchdowns ranked second on the team. He was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection.
Gurley had a standout freshman season that included 37 tackles and two tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles. The defensive back played a key role on special teams.
North Dakota linebacker Jake Rastas received honorable mention recognition after leading UND with 73 total tackles.