MSU’s McGee, Owens are Big Sky MVPs

OGDEN, UTAH — Two Bobcats from Texas were honored as the top football players in the Big Sky Conference today as the league released its 2012 All-Conference Team and individual award winners.

Montana State quarterback DeNarius McGhee was named the Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons. The junior from Euless, Texas, was also named to the All-Conference First Team.

Bobcat linebacker Jody Owens garnered the Defensive Player of the Year. The senior from Mesquite, Texas, was one of two unanimous selections to the All-Conference First Team.

The duo helped Montana State to a share of the Big Sky title for the third straight season. The second-ranked Bobcats will take the No. 2 ranking and the No. 3 seed into the Division I Football Championship.

Southern Utah freshman linebacker Zak Browning was named the Newcomer of the Year. Browning, a true freshman from Vancouver, Wash., leads the Big Sky with 116 total tackles. Browning is a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top Freshman in the FCS.

The All-Conference team and individual award winners were selected by the 13 league head coaches Monday. They were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

The First Team featured eight two-time selections, but just two unanimous selections.

Eastern Washington junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman joined Owens as a unanimous pick.

Montana State led the way with six First Team selections. Eastern Washington, which shared the regular-season title with Montana State and Cal Poly, had five players tabbed to the first team. Northern Arizona and Montana each had four First-Team players.

McGhee, a 6-foot, 210-pound junior, completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 2,726 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions during the regular season. He guided MSU to a 10-1 overall record. McGhee shared the Offensive Player of the Year honors as a freshman in 2010, when he was also named the First Team quarterback.

Owens, a 6-0, 223-pound senior, tallied 82 tackles with 11 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. He led a talented Montana State defense that leads the Big Sky in rushing yards allowed, total yards allowed and points allowed. The Bobcats have been among the national leaders all season in rushing defense, and surrendered just eight rushing touchdowns.

Three of Owens’ Bobcat defensive cohorts were also selected to the First Team: Senior defensive end Caleb Schreibeis, senior tackle Zach Minter and senior safety Joel Fuller. Schreibeis leads the Big Sky in sacks (12), tackles for loss 14.5, and is tied for the national lead with seven forced fumbles. Minter was a repeat First Team selection. Montana State senior center Shaun Sampson was the other Bobcat named to the top squad.

Kaufman, a 6-foot-5 junior from Denver, Colo., led the Eastern Washington contingent. Kaufman was First-Team pick in 2010, but missed most of last season with an injury. Kaufman returned to form, catching 65 passes for a league-high 1,270 yards and 10 touchdowns. EWU senior cornerback T.J. Lee III made the First Team for the second straight season. Senior offensive tackle Will Post, senior kicker Jimmy Pavel and junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin were the other Eagles named to the First Team.

Cal Poly, which shared the league title in its first season in the Big Sky, and earned an at-large bid to the playoffs had two players named to the First Team: Senior running back Deonte Williams and senior linebacker Kennith Jackson. Williams, who was named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year in 2008 when he played at Northern Arizona, led the Big Sky with 1,458 rushing yards. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns. Jackson tallied 95 total tackles.

Northern Arizona enjoyed its best season in nearly a decade, and was rewarded with four First-Team picks. Junior running back Zach Bauman earned honors for the second straight season. Bauman rushed for 1,182 yards, his third straight 1000-yard season. Senior fullback Jake Hess, who opened holes for Bauman all season was also named First Team. Cornerback Anders Battle and safety Lucky Dozier were honored from an NAU defense which was tops in the league against the pass and second overall.

Four Montana Grizzlies were named to the First Team, including two on the defensive side of the ball: Junior linebacker Jordan Tripp, sophomore defensive end Zach Wagenmann. Grizzly senior tight end Greg Hardy was honored for the second straight season. Offensive tackle Danny Kistler Jr., also made the squad.

Big Sky newcomers Southern Utah, UC Davis and North Dakota were all represented on the First Team. Southern Utah junior guard Gavin Farr and senior defensive tackle Cody Larsen were honored, along with North Dakota junior wide receiver Greg Hardin, UC Davis senior guard Sean Davies, and Aggie punter Colton Schmidt.

Northern Colorado senior Dominic Gunn was honored as the return specialist and the top special teams player. Gunn returned two punts and one kick for touchdowns. He also made a team-high seven special team tackles.

Idaho State senior wide receiver Rodrick Rumble rounded out the First Team. Rumble garnered the honor for the second straight season after catching 74 passes for 1,006 yards.

— Big Sky Conference

Wide Receivers — $*Brandon Kaufman, Jr., E. Washington; *Rodrick Rumble, Sr., Idaho State; Greg Hardin, Jr., North Dakota
Tackles — Danny Kistler Jr., Montana; Will Post, Sr., Eastern Washington
Guards — Sean Davies, Sr., UC Davis; Gavin Farr, Jr., Southern Utah
Center — Shaun Sampson, Sr., Montana State
Tight End — *Greg Hardy, Sr., Montana
Quarterback — *DeNarius McGhee, Jr., Montana State
Running Backs — Deonte Williams, Sr., Cal Poly; *Zach Bauman, Jr., Northern Arizona
Fullback — Jake Hess, Sr., Northern Arizona
Placekicker — Jimmy Pavel, Sr., Eastern Washington
Return Specialist  — Dominic Gunn, Sr., Northern Colorado

Tackles — *Zach Minter, Sr., Montana State; Cody Larsen, Sr., Southern Utah
Ends — Caleb Schreibeis, Sr., Montana State; Zach Wagenmann, So., Montana
Outside — Jordan Tripp, Jr., Montana
Linebackers — $*Jody Owens, Sr., Montana State
Inside linebackers  — Kennith Jackson, Sr., Cal Poly: Ronnie Hamlin, Jr., Eastern Washington
Cornerbacks — *T.J. Lee III, Sr., Eastern Washington: Anders Battle, Jr., Northern Arizona
Safeties — Lucky Dozier, Jr., Northern Arizona; Joel Fuller, Sr., Montana State
Punter — Colton Schmidt, Sr., UC Davis

Dominic Gunn, Sr., Northern Colorado
$- Unanimous Selection
*Two-Time First Team All-Conference

Wide Receivers  — Tanner Bleskin, Sr., Montana State; Morris Norrise, Jr., Sacramento State; Fatu Moala, Jr., Southern Utah
Tackles — Steven Foster, Sr., Montana State; Trey Gilleo, Sr., Northern Arizona
Guards — Tyler Worthley, Jr., Sacramento State; Steven Forgette, Jr., Eastern Washington
Center — Dylan Fox, Sr., Southern Utah
Tight End — Josh Hill, Sr., Idaho State
Quarterback — Brad Sorensen, Sr., Southern Utah
Running Backs —  Cody Kirk, Jr., Montana State; Peter Nguyen, Sr., Montana
Fullback — Lavell Ika, Sr., Southern Utah
Placekicker — Colton Cook, Jr., Southern Utah
Return Specialist — Austin Shanks, Sr., Northern Arizona

Tackles — Sullivan Grosz, Jr., Cal Poly; Tim Wilkinson, Jr., Northern Arizona
Ends — Jerry Ceja, Sr., Eastern Washington; Brad Daly, Jr., Montana State; Marquis Jackson, Sr., Portland State
Outside  linebackers — Johnny Millard, Jr., Cal Poly; Ian Sluss, Sr., Portland State; Zach Johnson, Sr., Eastern Washington
Inside linebackers  — Jordan Glass, Sr., UC Davis; Anthony Morales, Jr., Weber State
Cornerbacks — Darius Jones, Sr., Montana State; Osagie Odiase, Jr., Sacramento State
Safeties — Allen Brown, Jr., Eastern Washington; Marcel Gibbons, Sr., Northern Colorado
Punter — Andy Wilder, Jr., Northern Arizona

Taylor Malenfant, Sr., Northern Arizona

Wide Receivers – Willie Tucker, So., Cal Poly; Cole Stanford, Jr., Cal Poly; Greg Herd, Sr., Eastern Washington; Nicholas Edwards, Sr., Eastern Washington; Cam Richmond, Jr., Idaho State; Sam Gratton, Sr., Montana; Ify Umodo, Jr., Northern Arizona; Dominic Gunn, Sr., Northern Colorado; Jace Davis, Jr., Northern Colorado; Justin Monahan, Sr., Portland State; Mitch Jessop, So., Southern Utah; Corey Galindo, So., UC Davis; Xavian Johnson, So., Weber State.
Tackles – Giovanni Sani, Jr., Cal Poly; Emmett Lynch, Sr., North Dakota, Nick Candler, Sr., Northern Colorado; Kyle Ritt, Sr., Portland State; Mitchell Van Dyk, Jr., Portland State; Cody Burgess, Jr., Southern Utah; Shelton Robinson, So., Weber State
Guards – Lefi Letuligasenoa, Jr., Cal Poly; Mark Clampitt, Sr., Idaho State; Jake Hendrickson, Sr., Montana; Quinn Catalano, So., Montana State; Galeb Gillson, Sr., North Dakota; Roy Garcia, So., Northern Arizona; Chris Anderson, Sr., Northern Colorado; Cornelius Edison, So., Portland State.
Centers – Geoff Hyde, Sr., Cal Poly; Ashton Miller, Jr., Eastern Washington; Kjelby Oiland, Jr., Montana; Ian McGurran, Sr., North Dakota; Mitch Gaulke, Jr., Portland State; Ray Wilburn, Sr., UC Davis; Tytan Timoteo, Sr., Weber State.
Tight ends – R.J. Rickert, So., Northern Arizona; Drew Emanuel, Jr., Northern Arizona; TJ. Knowles, Sr., Sacramento State; Henna Brown, Sr., Southern Utah; Taylor Sloat, Jr., UC Davis.
Quarterbacks – Andre Broadous, Sr, Cal Poly; Kevin Yost, Sr., Idaho State; Braden Hanson, Sr., North Dakota; Cary Grossart, Sr., Northern Arizona; Seth Lobato, Jr., Northern Colorado; Garrett Safron, So., Sacramento State
Running Backs – Demitrius Bronson, Jr., Eastern Washington; D.J. Adams, Jr., Portland State; Ezekiel Graham, Jr., Sacramento State; C.J. Tuckett, Sr., Weber State.
Fullback – Tray Robinson, Sr., Montana State; Dalton Turay, So., UC Davis.
Placekicker – Chris Lider, Fr., Montana; Rory Perez, Jr., Montana State; Zeb Miller, Jr., North Dakota; Andy Wilder, Jr., Northern Arizona; Zach Brown, Sr., Portland State.
Return Specialists – Shaquille Hill, Fr., Eastern Washington; Peter Nguyen, Sr., Montana; Shawn Johnson, So., Montana State; Greg Hardin, Jr., North Dakota.

Tackles – Andru Pulu, Jr., Eastern Washington; Dylan Zylstra, So., Eastern Washington; Tonga Takai, So., Montana; Alex Bienemann, Montana; Marc Thompson, Jr., Northern Arizona; Dereck Jester, Sr., Portland State Matt Lawrence, Sr., Sacramento State; Andrew Benjamin, Sr., UC Davis.
Ends – Paul Ena, Sr., Eastern Washington; Josh Harris, Sr., Montana; Jay Nelson, Sr., North Dakota; Ross Brenneman, Sr., North Dakota, Jarret Bilbrey, Sr., Northern Arizona; Gavin Miller, Jr., Northern Colorado; Avery White, Sr., Sacramento State;  James Cowser, Fr., Southern Utah; Trevor Pletcher, Sr., Weber State.
Outside Linebacker – Nick Dzubnar, So., Cal Poly; Grant Williams, Sr., Eastern Washington; Trevor Spence, Jr., Idaho State; John Paul Kanongata’a, Jr., Montana; Mike Dosen, So., Northern Arizona; Ryan Reardon, Jr., Northern Arizona; Jaycob Shoemaker, Jr., Portland State; Byron Gruendl, Sr., UC Davis.
Inside Linebackers – Tyler Washburn, Sr., Eastern Washington; Brock Coyle, Jr., Montana; Na’a Moeakiola, Jr., Montana State; Austin Hasquet, So., Northern Arizona; Herve Tonye-Tonye, Sr., Northern Colorado; Khalil Bass, Sr., Portland State; Todd Davis, Jr., Sacramento State; Jeff Badger, Sr., Sacramento State; Zak Browning, Fr., Southern Utah.
Cornerbacks – Nico Molino, Sr., Cal Poly; Vante Smith-Johnson, Jr., Cal Poly; Ronald Baines, Jr., Eastern Washington; Donovan Henley, Sr., Idaho State; Sean Murray, Jr., Montana; Devin Willis, Sr., Northern Arizona; Courtney Hall, So., Northern Colorado; Jonathan Perkins, Jr., UC Davis; David James, Sr., Weber State.
Safeties – Jordan Tonani, Fr., Eastern Washington; Taison Manu, Fr., Idaho State; Matt Hermanson, So., Montana; Steven Bethley, Jr., Montana State Blair Wishom, Jr., Northern Arizona; Jordan Bible, Sr., Northern Colorado; Joel Sisler, Sr., Portland State; Mike Williams, Sr., Portland State; Ryan McMahon, Sr., Sacramento State; Miles Killebrew, Fr., Southern Utah
Punters – Bobby Zalud, Jr., Cal Poly; Stephen Shaw, Fr., Montana.

Chris Judge, Jr., Cal Poly; Chase King, Sr., Eastern Washington; Mike Foster, So., Montana State; Nevin Lewis, Sr., Portland State.