SPOKANE, Washington — Keelan Doss had a chance to be the latest prolific pass catcher to jump from the Big Sky Conference. Instead, the UC Davis star senior wide receiver chose to return to wreak havoc on the league.
Monday, the Big Sky announced its preseason All-Big Sky team. As expected, Doss, the 2017 Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year and the third-place finisher in the Walter Payton Award voting, earned Big Sky preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors.
“I talked to people I trust the most and myself, I felt like one more year was best for me,” Doss said during an interview at the Big Sky Kickoff in Spokane on Monday. “I decided to get my degree, so I’m finishing that up in the fall as well. I knew coming back for another season would risk injury but I can play my cards. Production-wise, I know I can do better because there were a lot of opportunities I left on the field.”
Last season, Doss led all of college football by averaging 136.3 receiving yards per game. He caught 115 passes for 1,499 yards during Davis’ 5-6 campaign.
“Everybody sees the physical things, which there are many but I see the intangibles, how humble he is, how smart he is, how hard he works, what a good leader he is, what a good teammate he is, how tough he is,” UC Davis second-year head coach Dan Hawkins said. “That manifests itself in his physical abilities. He’s a big, strong, fast guy. You’ve seen him walking around here. He’s an NFL-looking dude. He’s legit. But he’s also a legit person. That to me is the biggest pleasure of having him.”
Despite missing spring football because of off-season shoulder surgery, Montana senior outside linebacker Josh Buss is the Big Sky preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The fifth-year senior from Boise, Idaho led the Griz with 94 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last season. He was a second-team All-Big Sky and third-team All-American selection last season.
“The thing about Josh right now is he’s had some major health problems and we don’t know the degree he is going to be available to us,” Montana head coach Bobby Hauck revealed. “We will see how that goes. Hopefully, things come around for him but he has some health problems.
Weber State, the defending league co-champion along with in-state rival Southern Utah, led the way with six preseason all-league selections, including three — sophomore kicker Trey Tuttle, sophomore return specialist Rashid Shaheed and senior special teams ace Brady May — on special teams. Senior offensive tackle Iosua Opeta, senior inside linebacker LeGrand Toia and junior defensive end Jonah Williams landed on the squad.
SUU placed five players on the team, including three — senior tackle Marquez Tucker, junior center Zach Larsen, junior guard P.J. Nu’usu — on the offensive line.
Eastern Washington, the preseason league favorite, Northern Arizona, a 2017 playoff team and Sac State, a 7-win squad last fall, each placed three players on the squad. Idaho, who returns to the league for the first time since 1996, also put three players on the team.
EWU senior Gage Gubrud got the nod in a talented quarterback field that also included All-American returnees Case Cookus of NAU and Jake Maier of UC Davis. EWU defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli, a 2016 first-team All-Big Sky selection before missing last season with an injury, and senior running back Antoine Custer Jr. also earned recognition for the Eagles.
NAU landed wide receiver Emmanuel Butler, cornerback Khalil Dorsey and safety Wes Sutton on the list, while Sac State wide receiver Andre Lindsey, defensive end George Obinna and safety Mister Harriel earned recognition. Idaho guard Noah Johnson, outside linebacker Kaden Ellis and punter Cade Coffey all found spots despite Idaho being the new team in the league.
Doss was joined on the team by tight end Wesley Preece as the representatives from UC Davis. Buss was Montana’s lone representative on the team while Montana State senior defensive tackle Tucker Yates was the lone Bobcat on the squad.
Preseason All-Big Sky team
Big Sky Preseason Offensive Player of the Year — Keelan Doss, wide receiver, UC Davis
Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year — Josh Buss, outside linebacker, Montana
Quarterback — Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington
Running Back — James Madison, Idaho State
Running Back — Antoine Custer Jr., Eastern Washington
Wide receiver — Keelan Doss, UC Davis
Wide receiver — Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona
Wide receiver — Andre Lindsey, Sacramento State
Wide receiver — Alex Wesley, Northern Colorado
Tight end — Wesley Preece, UC Davis
Tight End — Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State
Offensive tackle — Iosua Opeta, Weber State
Offensive tackle — Marquez Tucker, Southern Utah
Offensive guard — P.J. Nu’usu, Southern Utah
Offensive guard — Noah Johnson, Idaho
Center — Zach Larsen, Southern Utah
Placekicker — Trey Tuttle, Weber State
Return specialist — Rashid Shaheed, Weber State
End — George Obinna, Sacramento State
End — Jonah Williams, Weber State
Tackle — Tucker Yates, Montana State
Tackle — Jay-Tee Tiuli, Eastern Washington
Outside linebacker — Josh Buss, Montana
Outside linebacker — Kaden Ellis, Idaho
Middle linebacker — LeGrand Toia, Weber State
Middle linebacker — Chinedu Ahononu, Southern Utah
Cornerback — Khalil Dorsey, Northern Arizona
Cornerback — Jalen Russell, Southern Utah
Safety — Wes Sutton, Northern Arizona
Safety — Mister Harriel, Sacramento State
Punter — Cade Coffey, So., Idaho
Special Teams — Brady May, Weber State
Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.