All-American

Nine Big Sky players named AP All-Americans

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BIG SKY CONFERENCE PRESS RELEASE

OGDEN, Utah (December 12, 2017) – A total of nine Big Sky Conference student-athletes were named to The Associated Press FCS All-America team announced Tuesday with four collecting first team honors.

UC Davis’ Keelan Doss, North Dakota’s John Santiago and Weber State’s Trey Tuttle and Taron Johnson were selected to the AP First Team with the Wildcats’ two selections falling just behind top-ranked James Madison, who placed three players on the top team.

Earning second team honors were Weber State’s Andrew Vollert and Northern Arizona’s Elijah Marks, while Weber State’s Iosua Opeta, Idaho State’s Skyler Phillips and Ben Sorensen of Sacramento State were third team selections.

A Walter Payton Award candidate, Doss was named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year. The First Team All-Big Sky honoree wide receiver set three UC Davis single-season program records: total receiving yards, receptions and 100-yard games (9). He also set two new Big Sky era single-game records when he finished with 15 receptions and 208 receiving yards when the Aggies hosted Eastern Washington. Doss ranked No. 1 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).

North Dakota junior kick returner John Santiago/ by Jason Bacaj

Santiago led the entire Football Championship Subdivision with 1,780 all-purpose yards during the 2017 regular season, racking up 717 of those on the ground. His 6.0 yards per catch average was the best among all Big Sky rushers. He recorded a pair of 100-yard rushing games this season, including a season-high 170 at UC Davis.

Tuttle became the first Weber State placekicker to earn First Team All-Big Sky honors in 20 years. Tuttle finished the regular season ranked second in the nation in field goals per game and fifth in the country in field goal percentage. During the regular season, he was 16-of-19 on field goals with a long kick of 48 yards. The 16 field goals tied him for the fifth most in a season in WSU history. He was also 43-of-44 on extra point attempts. Tuttle leads the Wildcats and ranks sixth in the Big Sky in scoring with 97 points scored this season, which is the sixth most in a season in Weber State history.

Johnson was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, while leading Weber State to a share of the Big Sky title. The cornerback, a unanimous First Team honoree, earned all-conference honors for the third time in his career, with this season his first on the first-team. As a senior captain, Johnson played and started in nine regular season games and ranked sixth in the Big Sky in passes defended and interceptions. He has recorded three interceptions with two coming in the final regular season game against Idaho State. Johnson had 30 tackles on the season with 23 unassisted tackles. He also has two sacks, seven pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Vollert, a unanimous First Team All-Big Sky selection, played in all 11 regular season games and led the Wildcats in receptions and receiving yards for the second-straight season. He finished the regular season with 44 receptions for 557 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 50.6 receiving yards per game. Vollert, a WSU team captain and leader on the Big Sky Championship squad, had more than 100 receptions in his two seasons at Weber State.

Marks had a big impact on the Northern Arizona offense. He had a career-high senior season with 1,170 receiving yards to rank second in the Big Sky and second all-time on the NAU record chart. He did so on just 71 receptions. He also had four catches over 50 yards. Marks recorded seven 100-yard games, including a career-high 206 yards in the road win at Cal Poly. He appeared in all but one game for NAU and still managed to rank fifth in the FCS in receiving yards per game (117.0), seventh in receiving yards (1,170) and fourth in all-purpose yards (151.50).

Idaho State senior Skyler Phillips (71) during a game at Montana State in October of 2017/ by Brooks Nuanez

An All-Big Sky First Team honoree in 2017, Phillips was a four-year starter for the Bengals offensive line, helping Idaho State rank in the top 30 in FCS with 28.1 points per game. The Bengals also appeared high in the national rankings in passing yards per game (256.5 yards/game) for 24th in the country and ranked in the top 40 in rushing (178.4 yards/game). In November, Phillips accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 27, 2018, in Mobile, Ala.

Opeta was a repeat selection on the All-Big Sky Conference team this season, earning first team honors while starting in all 14 games for the Wildcats at offensive tackle. Opeta was part of an offensive unit that averaged 33.7 points per game for 18th in FCS and 35th nationally with 179.3 rushing yards per outing.

Sorensen earned all-Big Sky for the second consecutive year after he led the league and tied for fifth in the FCS with 10.0 sacks (1.00 per game) The senior spearheaded a Hornet defense which set the school Div. I-era record with 43 sacks and finished the season tied for second in the FCS in sacks and ranked third in third-down defense. Along with his sacks, Sorensen concluded the season with 38 tackles, including 12.5 for loss. He also had seven pass breakups, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. He concluded his career ranked eighth in school history with 17.5 sacks and is sixth with 32.5 tackles-for-loss. All but three of his sacks came in the final two years of his career.

2017 AP FCS ALL-AMERICA TEAMS

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Chris Streveler, senior, South Dakota

Running backs — Dominick Bragalone, junior, Lehigh; Josh Mack, sophomore, Maine

Linemen — Brandon Parker, senior, North Carolina A&T; Austin Kuhnert, senior, North Dakota State; Jacob Ohnesorge, senior, South Dakota State; Aaron Stinnie, senior, James Madison; Justin Lea, senior, Jacksonville State

Tight end — Dallas Goedert, senior, South Dakota State

Receivers — Keelan Doss, junior, UC Davis; Davion Davis, junior, Sam Houston State

All-purpose player — John Santiago, junior, North Dakota

Kicker — Trey Tuttle, freshman, Weber State

DEFENSE

Linemen — Andrew Ankrah, senior, James Madison; Jonathan Petersen, senior, San Diego; Darius Jackson, senior, Jacksonville State; P.J. Hall, senior, Sam Houston State

Linebackers — Brett Taylor, senior, Western Illinois; Darius Leonard, senior, South Carolina State; Nick DeLuca, senior, North Dakota State

Backs — Mike Basile, senior, Monmouth; George Odum, senior, Central Arkansas; Taron Johnson, senior, Weber State; Jordan Brown, senior, James Madison

Punter — Joe Zema, senior, Incarnate Word

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Jeremiah Briscoe, senior, Sam Houston State

Running backs — Roc Thomas, senior, Jacksonville State; Zane Dudek, freshman, Yale

Linemen — Stetson Dagel, senior, South Dakota; John Cook, junior, Central Arkansas; Timon Parris, senior, Stony Brook; Ben Huss, senior, Duquesne; Matthew Schmidt, senior, Furman

Tight end — Andrew Vollert, senior, Weber State

Receivers — Neil O’Connor, junior, New Hampshire; Jaelon Acklin, senior, Western Illinois

All-purpose player — Elijah Marks, senior, Northern Arizona

Kicker — Gunnar Raborn, junior, McNeese State

DEFENSE

Linemen — Anthony Ellis, senior, Charleston Southern; Ahmad Gooden, junior, Samford; Jaison Williams, sophomore, Austin Peay; Abdullah Anderson, senior, Bucknell

Linebackers — Matthew Oplinger, senior, Yale; Jared Farley, senior, Northern Iowa; Brandon Bryant, senior, Lafayette

Backs — Marlon Bridges, sophomore, Jacksonville State; Phillip Parham, senior, senior, Lafayette; Davontae Harris, senior, Illinois State; Rashad Robinson, junior, James Madison

Punter — Ian Berryman, junior, Western Carolina

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Chandler Burks, junior, Kennesaw State

Running backs — De’Lance Turner, senior, Alcorn State; Detrez Newsome, senior, Western Carolina

Linemen — Skyler Phillips, senior, Idaho State; Zach Mitchler, junior, Kennesaw State; Alex Thompson, senior, Monmouth; Iosua Opeta, junior, Weber State; Ross Demmel, junior, Wofford

Tight end — Ross Dwelley, senior, San Diego

Receivers — Nathan Stewart, sophomore, Sam Houston State; Justin Watson, senior, Penn

All-purpose player — Khris Gardin, senior, North Carolina A&T

Kicker — Lorran Fonseca, junior, Nicholls State

DEFENSE

Linemen — Darin Greenfield, sophomore, South Dakota; Chris Terrell, sophomore, Central Arkansas; Ben Sorensen, senior, Sacramento State; Nick Wheeler, sophomore, Colgate

Linebackers — Garrett Dolan, senior, Houston Baptist; Thomas Costigan, junior, Bryant; Christian Rozeboom, sophomore, South Dakota State

Backs — Elijah Campbell, sophomore, Northern Iowa; Franklin McCain III, redshirt freshman, North Carolina A&T; Tremon Smith, senior, Central Arkansas; Davanta Reynolds, junior, North Carolina Central

Punter — Austin Barnard, senior, Samford

 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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