PARK CITY, Utah — Northern Arizona placed six player on the 2013 Big Sky Conference Preseason All-Conference Team, while three-time defending champion Montana State garnered four selections on the squad, which was released on Monday at the Big Sky Summer Kickoff in Park City, Utah.
Montana State senior quarterback DeNarius McGhee, a two-time Big Sky MVP, was selected as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Montana senior linebacker Jordan Tripp was tabbed as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
All 13 Big Sky Conference teams placed at least one player on the squad. Montana, Cal Poly, Eastern Washington and Southern Utah all saw three of its players selected. The 30-player team was chosen by a select group of media and sports information directors. Eleven of the student-athletes earned First Team All-Big Sky honors in 2012.
Northern Arizona’s contingent was led by senior All-American running back Zach Bauman, a candidate for the Walter Payton Award. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder enters his final campaign ranked 11th on the Big Sky’s all-time rushing list with 3,676.
Junior tight end R.J. Rickert, senior defensive tackle Tim Wilkinson, senior punter Andy Wilder, senior safety Lucky Dozier, and senior cornerback Anders Battle were the other Lumberjacks named to the squad. Dozier and Battle were named First Team All-Conference in 2012.
McGhee, a 6-foot, 212-pounder from Euless, Texas, is the reigning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year. He also earned the honor in 2010 as a freshman. The three-time Walter Payton Award finalist enters his final season with 9,116 passing yards and 71 passing touchdowns.
Senior running back Cody Kirk, senior wide receiver Tanner Bleskin, and senior defensive Brad Brad Daly were the other Bobcats named to the team. Montana State has shared the last three Big Sky Conference titles, compiled a 21-3 conference mark over that span.
Tripp, a 6-3, 237-pounder from Missoula, Mont., was a First Team All-Conference linebacker in 2012. He tallied 95 total tackles, and helped a UM defense which was tops in the league against the rush. Tripp is a preseason candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the top defensive player in FCS football.
Junior defensive end Zach Wagenmann, who was also a First Team All-Conference pick in 2012, was one of three juniors voted to the team. The Grizzlies’ third player was senior offensive tackle Danny Kistler, who was also named First Team All-Conference in 2012.
Eastern Washington, which advanced to the 2012 national semifinals, placed three defensive players on the team: Senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, senior cornerback T.J. Lee III, and senior safety Allen Brown. Hamlin and Lee III were both First Team All-Conference picks in 2012. Hamlin is a candidate for the Buchanan.
Cal Poly’s senior Giovanni Sani was the other offensive tackle selected. His teammates Sullivan Grosz, a senior defensive tackle, and senior special teams standout Chris Judge were tabbed.
Southern Utah was represented by senior wide receiver Fatu Moala, All-American kicker Colton Cook, and offensive guard Gavin Farr, who was First Team All-Conference in 2012.
Sacramento State senior guard Tyler Worthley and senior wide receiver Morris Norrise were also selected to the team.
North Dakota’s Greg Hardin was selected at two positions: Wide receiver and return specialist. Hardin, a senior from Bellevue, Neb., hauled in 65 catches for 1,145 yards with 14 touchdowns en route to First Team All-Conference honors last season. He also averaged 31.6 yards per kick return with a touchdown.
The squad was rounded out by Portland State senior center Mitch Gaulke, UC Davis junior fullback Dalton Turay, Idaho State senior linebacker Trevor Spence, Northern Colorado senior linebacker Clarence Bumpas, and Weber State senior linebacker Anthony Morales.
Bumpas, a Buchanan candidate, amassed a league-high 145 total tackles in 2011. He tallied 49 in five games in 2012, before missing the rest of the season with an injury.
— Big Sky Conference
2013 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team
Offensive MVP – DeNarius McGhee, Sr., QB, Montana State
Defensive MVP – Jordan Tripp, Sr., LB, Montana
*QB DeNarius McGee Sr. Euless, Texas
*RB Zach Bauman Sr. Chandler, Ariz. Northern Arizona
RB Cody Kirk Sr. Frenchtown, Mont. Montana State
FB Dalton Turay Jr. Pleasanton, Calif. UC Davis
OG Tyler Worthley Sr. Dublin, Calif.
*OG Gavin Farr Sr. South Ogden, Utah Southern Utah
C Mitch Gaulke Sr. West Linn, Ore. Portland State
*OT Danny Kistler Sr. Seattle, Wash. Montana
OT Giovanni Sani Sr. Modesto, Calif. Cal Poly
*WR Greg Hardin Sr. Bellevue, Neb. North Dakota
WR Tanner Bleskin Sr. Great Falls, Mont. Montana State
WR Morris Norrise Sr. Berkeley, Calif. Sacramento State
WR Fatu Moala Sr. Kearns, Utah
TE R.J. Rickert Jr. Gilbert, Ariz.
K Colton Cook Sr. Centerville, Utah Southern Utah
Ret. Greg Hardin Sr. Bellevue, Neb. North Dakota
*DE Zack Wagenmann Jr. Missoula, Mont. Montana
DE Brad Daly Sr. Helena, Mont. Montana State
DT Sullivan Grosz Sr. Fresno, Calif. Cal Poly
DT Tim Wilkinson Sr. Las Vegas, Nev. Northern Arizona
*OLB Jordan Tripp Sr. Missoula, Mont. Montana
OLB Trevor Spence Sr. Aberdeen, Idaho Idaho State
*ILB Ronnie Hamlin Sr. Lacey, Wash. Eastern Washington
ILB Clarence Bumpas Sr. Colorado Springs, Colo. Northern Colorado
ILB Anthony Morales Sr. Edmond, Okla. Weber State
*CB Anders Battle Sr. Phoenix, Ariz. Northern Arizona
*CB T.J. Lee III Sr. Seattle, Wash. Eastern Washington
*S Lucky Dozier Sr. Sacramento, Calif. Northern Arizona
S Allen Brown Sr. Tacoma, Wash. Eastern Washington
P Andy Wilder Sr. Scottsdale, Ariz. Northern Arizona
Special Teams – Chris Judge Sr. Westlake Village, Calif. Cal Poly
*First Team All-Conference in 2012.