Four Griz, Four Bobcats earn All-America honors

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Montana junior linebacker Dante Olson has picked up his third First-Team All-America award in the past week, and three other Grizzlies have also been named All-Americans in a trio of releases on Monday and Tuesday.

Olson was named to the 2018 STATS FCS All-America Defensive first team, the only defensive player in the Big Sky Conference to earn first team honors.

Online FCS news outlet HERO Sports also named Jace Lewis and Samuel Akem to its sophomore First-Team All-America list on Tuesday, and Robby Hauck earned a place on its freshman First-Team All-America list as well.

STATS will also honor Olson in January as a top-three finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented annually to the FCS Defensive Player of the Year on the eve of the National Championship game in Frisco, Texas.

In the last week, the national leader in tackles during the regular season also earned First-Team All-America honors from the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation.

Montana State quarterback Troy Andersen also continued to pile up post-season honors on Tuesday, with some company from a player who helped clear his way in 2018.

Andersen was named STATS FCS Third Team All-America as an all-purpose player, and added First Team Sophomore All-America honors from Hero Sports. In addition, offensive guard Lewis Kidd earned Sophomore All-America Honorable Mention plaudits from Hero.

Andersen, who earned consensus First Team All-Big Sky honors this season, rushed for 1,412 yards as a sophomore and threw for 1,195. His 21 touchdowns was a Bobcat single-season record. Kidd started all 13 games for the Bobcats as part of an offensive line that was among the nation’s top 20 in most rushing yards and fewest sacks allowed. He is the first Bobcat to earn All-America honors since JP Flynn in 2016.

UM’s Akem earned second-team All-Big Sky honors after a breakout season hauling in 13 touchdown catches — the sixth-most touchdown in the nation, and the most in the league. The prolific sophomore caught at least one touchdown pass in eight games, and two TD grabs in five games.

Montana’s leading receiver with a Grizzly top-20 total of 863 yards, Akem’s 13 TD catches is the fifth-most in a single season in Grizzly history, tied with legends like Marc Mariani, Marvin Turk, and Mike Rice.

UM’s Lewis was named to the HERO Sports First-Team special teams list after earning All-Big Sky second-team honors in 2018. As Montana’s top special teams contributor, he was a key part of UM’s Big Sky-best kickoff coverage unit with 62 tackles on the season, ranking in the league’s top-40.

Hauck was the national leader in tackles for a freshman and was No. 3 in the voting for the Jerry Rice Award for the top freshman in the nation. He received an All-Big Sky honorable mention as UM’s second-leading tackler, finishing the year with 95 total takedowns (41 solo, 54 assisted), the fifth-most in the conference and the most of any freshman, and was the only freshman among the Big Sky’s top-30 tacklers.

Hauck posted four games with double-digit tackle totals, including a career-high 17 in Montana’s win at Cal Poly.

A pair of Bobcats were also named to the Freshman All-America Team.

Offensive tackle Connor Wood earned First Team honors, while record-setting running back Isaiah Ifanse was lauded as honorable mention.

Wood helped solidify Montana State’s offensive line, starting nine of the team’s 13 games. A 6-4, 300-pound Meridian, Idaho, product became a mainstay on the Bobcat offensive line which finished among the FCS leaders in rushing offense (17th, 231.8 yards per game) and fewest sacks allowed (12th, 0.85 per game). Toiling behind Wood and the MSU offensive line, Ifanse (5-10, 190, Bellevue, Washington) rushed for 1,057 yards, the most by a freshman in Bobcat history and 24th in the FCS. He rushed for seven touchdowns on the season, and his 5.4 yards per carry was sixth in the Big Sky Conference.

The Bobcats finished 8-5 and beat Incarnate Word in the First Round of the FCS Playoffs before elimination in the second round. Montana State’s recent Freshman All-Americas include quarterback Chris Murray in 2016 and Troy Andersen a season ago.

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