Courtesy of the Big Sky Conference
OGDEN, Utah â€“ Eastern Washingtonâ€™s J.C. Sherritt has been selected as the 2010 Big Sky Conference preseason defensive player of the year, while Montanaâ€™s Chase Reynolds has been tabbed as the preseason offensive player of the year.
Both senior standouts were also named to the preseason All-Conference team, which was selected by a panel of media and sports information directors.
Sherritt, a linebacker from Pullman, Wash., led the nation in tackles in 2009 with 170, earning All-America and first-team All-Conference honors, and finishing second in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award. Sherritt enters this season as a leading candidate to win the Buchanan, given annually to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Reynolds, a running back from Drummond, Mont., earned first-team All-Conference honors in 2009, and has helped the Grizzlies reach the Division I national championship game each of the past two seasons. The All-American rushed for a league-best 1,502 yards and scored a league-high 24 touchdowns in 2009. In the past two seasons, he has amassed more than 3,600 all-purpose yards and scored 47 touchdowns. Reynolds is a candidate for the Walter Payton Award, given annually by The Sports Network to the top FCS offensive player.
Reynolds was one of five Grizzlies tabbed to the Preseason All-Conference squad. Montana State also had five players selected, while Northern Arizona, Weber State and Sacramento State each had four named to the 30-player team. Eleven of the 30 were voted to the 2009 All-Big Sky first team.
Northern Arizona senior Michael Herrick was selected as the quarterback. Herrick, a Payton candidate, completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 3,356 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2009.
Eastern Washington junior Taiwan Jones joined Reynolds at running back. The speedster from Antioch, Calif., All-American averaged 7.5 yards per carry and finished second in the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 195.4 yards per game.
Montana State senior tackle Mike Person, an All-Big Sky pick in 2009, anchors the offensive line. Heâ€™s joined by Montanaâ€™s Jon Opperud (tackle) and Alex Verlanic (center), Weber Stateâ€™s J.C. Oram (guard) and Northern Arizonaâ€™s Kris Poindexter (guard).
Two Big Sky wide receiver â€“ Montanaâ€™s Marc Mariani and Weber Stateâ€™s Tim Toone â€“ were drafted by NFL teams in April, leaving a large void at the position. Rising Montana State star Everett Gilbert, Sacramento Stateâ€™s Brandyn Reed, and Weber Stateâ€™s Mike Phillips were the three receivers named to the team. Reed caught 46 passes for 731 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. Phillips has 96 catches and 15 touchdowns in his career. Gilbert caught 46 passes for 556 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman.
Fullback Zac Eldridge of Weber State and tight end Kyle Begger of Montana State rounded out the offensive team.
Sophomore Zach Brown was selected as the kicker, while Montana junior Jabin Sambrano was tabbed as the return specialist. Brown made 18-of-25 field goals and all 21 of his points after attempts in his first season for the Vikings. Sambrano averaged 24.8 yards per kick return in 2008, with a long of 50.
The defense features six players who earned first-team All-Big Sky honors in 2009, including linebackers A.J. Storms of Idaho State and Taylor Sedillo of Weber State. Northern Colorado senior John Eddy is the fourth linebacker. Storms, from Meridian, Idaho, finished second to Sherritt in tackles in 2009 with 120. Eddy played eight games in 2009, recording 80 tackles with 5.5 sacks. Sedillo led Weber State with 100 total tackles.
The defensive front is led by tackles Dan Ogden of Montana State, Renard Williams of Eastern Washington and Christian Clark of Sacramento State. Ogden and Williams were All-Big Sky picks in 2009. Clark, however, was Second Team All-America pick by The Sports Network. Ogden helped MSU lead the league in rush and total defense. Williams tallied 8.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Clark led the Big Sky with 10 sacks.
Northern Arizona junior Isaac Bond and Northern Colorado junior Nick Hernon were selected as the defensive ends. Bond was second in the league with 8.5 sacks. Hernon tallied five sacks.
Montana junior Trumaine Johnson, an All-Big Sky pick in 2009, was selected at one corner, while Northern Coloradoâ€™s Korey Askew was tabbed at the other corner. Johnson played in 11 of 15 games, recording five interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Askew intercepted three passes and broke up nine, to go along with 74 tackles.
Northern Arizonaâ€™s Matt Estrada and Sacramento Stateâ€™s Zach Schrader were voted in at safety. Schrader was the leagueâ€™s Newcomer of the Year in 2009 after transferring from the defunct Western Washington program. Estrada tallied 78 tackles in 2009. Schrader had 102 tackles and four interceptions.
Sacramento Stateâ€™s Augie Heath earned the nod at punter.
Montana Stateâ€™s Tanner Ripley was named as a special teams player.
Pos. Player Year Hometown School
QB Michael Herrick Sr. Valencia, Calif. Northern Arizona
RB *Chase Reynolds Sr. Drummond, Mont. Montana
RB *Taiwan Jones Jr. Antioch, Calif. Eastern Washington
FB Zac Eldridge Sr. Sandy, Utah Weber State
TE Kyle Begger Sr. Miles City, Mont. Montana State
OT *Mike Person Sr. Glendive, Mont. Montana State
OT Jon Opperud Jr. Portland, Ore. Montana
C Alex Verlanic Sr. Drummond, Mont. Montana
OG J.C. Oram Jr. Slaterville, Utah Weber State
OG Kris Poindexter Sr. Phoenix, Ariz. Northern Arizona
WR Brandyn Reed Sr. Windsor, Calif. Sacramento State
WR Everett Gilbert So. Rockwall, Texas Montana State
WR Mike Phillips Sr. Seaside, Calif. Weber State
K *Zach Brown So. Keizer, Ore. Portland State
RS Jabin Sambrano Jr. Temecula, Calif. Montana
Pos. Player Year Hometown School
DE Isaac Bond Jr. Vancouver, Wash. Northern Arizona
DE Nick Hernon Jr. Castle Rock, Colo. Northern Colorado
DT *Dan Ogden Sr. Kalispell, Mont. Montana State
DT *Renard Williams Jr. Port Orchard, Wash. Eastern Washington
DT Christian Clark Sr. Los Angeles, Calif. Sacramento State
LB *J.C. Sherritt Sr. Pullman, Wash. Eastern Washington
LB *A.J. Storms Jr. Meridian, Idaho Idaho State
LB *Taylor Sedillo Sr. Salt Lake City, Utah Weber State
LB John Eddy Sr. Greeley, Colo. Northern Colorado
CB *Trumaine Johnson Jr. Stockton, Calif. Montana
CB Korey Askew Jr. Denver, Colo. Northern Colorado
S Zach Schrader Sr. Issaquiah, Wash. Sacramento State
S *Matt Estrada Sr. La Habra, Calif. Northern Arizona
P Augie Heath Jr. Chico, Calif. Sacramento State
ST Tanner Ripley Sr. Highwood, Mont. Montana State
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year - Chase Reynolds, RB, Montana
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year - J.C. Sherritt, LB, Eastern Washington
*First-Team All-Conference in 2009