Big Sky Conference

Thirteen from Big Sky named to STATS FCS preseason All-American team


OGDEN, Utah (July 30, 2019) – The Big Sky Conference saw 13 players land on the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team, announced today by the organization.
The league had six players named to the first team. Big Sky Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Jake Maier of UC Davis was selected as the top returning quarterback. Portland State’s Charlie Taumoepeau was selected as the best returning tight end despite missing part of last season due to an injury. Idaho’s Noah Johnson and Southern Utah’s Zach Larsen picked up spots on the offensive line to round out the Big Sky selections on offense.

Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Dante Olson of Montana was the lone selection on defense, as he picked up linebacker accolades. Olson was one of nine returning postseason All-American first-team selections. Montana State’s multi-threat player Troy Andersen was selected as the top returning athlete.

Andersen, a 6-4, 223-pound athlete from Dillon who has played quarterback, running back and linebacker during his career so far at MSU, was also named to the Walter Payton Award watch list on Tuesday. The Payton is awarded to the top offensive player in the FCS each season. Andersen is slated to play outside linebacker more prevalently in 2019.

Olson is the only defender from the Big Sky Conference to earn a place on the preseason first-team, and one of only 13 players from the league to receive first, second or third-team preseason honors.

This is the sixth preseason accolade for the record-breaking senior heading into the 2019 season, having already been named Big Sky Preseason Defensive MVP and the only FCS player to earn a place on the Butkus Award Watch List. Olson was also named to the Athlon Sports and HERO Sports Preseason All-America teams, and the College Football America Yearbook FCS Preseason Starting Lineup.

Montana senior linebacker Dante Olson (33) in 2018/by Brooks Nuanez

The 6-3, 237-pound native of Medford, Ore., set a new Montana school record in 2018 with a Big Sky best 151 total tackles. His 13.7 tackle per-game average was also the highest in all of FCS and FBS football. He also ranked sixth in the Big Sky in sacks (6), ninth in TFLs (11), and second in forced fumbles (3).

Olson finished the 2018 season as a top-three finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award and received seven different All-America accolades in addition to first-team All-Big Sky honors. He was named the FCS and Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year by Phil Steele Magazine, won Montana’s Steve Carlson Team MVP and Defensive MVP awards, and was named ROOT Sports Big Sky Player of the Week three separate times.

He is a three-time Academic All-Big Sky selection, was named to the FCS Athletic Director’s Association Academic All-Star Team in 2018, currently carries a 3.9 GPA, and will graduate in the Fall of 2019 with a Business Administration degree in Management. He also mentors and serves as a pen-pal with a class of underprivileged kids in Northern California, encouraging them to pursue a college education.

The Big Sky added four players on the second team – Weber State running back Josh Davis, Eastern Washington offensive lineman Spencer Blackburn, Idaho punter Cade Coffey, and Weber State kick returner Rashid Shaheed.
Third-team honors went to Montana State offensive lineman Mitch Brott, Weber State offensive lineman Ty Whitworth, and Montana State defensive lineman Bryce Sterk.

Brott, a second-team All-Big Sky selection last season, has made 35 consecutive starts for the Bobcats. Sterk, a former transfer from the University of Washington, led the Big Sky during the regular-season with 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

Montana State edge Bryce Sterk (37) fights through a block by a Montana offensive lineman. Sterk had two sacks in MSU’s 29-25 win over Montana, bringing his regular-season total to a league-best 8.5 sacks. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound former Washington transfer also led the league in tackles for loss with 17, including 16 solo stops behind the line of scrimmage among his 53 total tackles/ by Brooks Nuanez

Montana State and Weber State led all Big Sky schools with three selections each. Eight different Big Sky teams were represented on the All-America team.
The Big Sky kicks off the 2019 campaign on Thursday, August 29. Northern Arizona hosts Missouri State, while Northern Colorado visits San Jose State.
2019 Big Sky FCS Preseason All-America Team Honorees
QB – Jake Maier, senior, 6-0, 200, UC Davis
TE – Charlie Taumoepeau, senior, 6-3, 240, Portland State
OL – Noah Johnson, senior, 6-4, 302, Idaho
OL – Zach Larsen, senior, 6-1, 305, Southern Utah
LB – Dante Olson, senior, 6-3, 237, Montana
ATH – Troy Andersen, junior, 6-3, 215, Montana State
RB – Josh Davis, sophomore, 5-9, 195, Weber State
OL – Spencer Blackburn, senior, 6-2, 290, Eastern Washington
P – Cade Coffey, junior, 6-1, 198, Idaho
KR – Rashid Shaheed, junior, 6-0, 175, Weber State
OL – Mitch Brott, senior, 6-6, 290, Montana State
OL – Ty Whitworth, junior, 6-4, 295, Weber State
DL – Bryce Sterk, senior, 6-5, 250, Montana State

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