Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Griz earn four individual awards in Big Sky football

by UM Communications
| November 22, 2023 3:31 PM

MISSOULA — After winning the program’s first conference title since 2009, the Montana Grizzlies dominated the 2023 All-Big Sky postseason honors that came out Tuesday.

The Griz took four of the five individual awards — with 13 players earning 14 spots on the honors teams — and tied Montana State for most first-team selections with eight.

Tackle Alex Gubner capped another dominant regular season at UM as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year; he is first-team all-conference for the second straight season, and a unanimous pick by the league’s coaches. 

After leading the Griz to seven straight wins as a starter in his first season under center, quarterback Clifton McDowell was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year.

Running back Eli Gillman posted more rushing yards than any other freshman in the FCS this season and the third-most overall in the conference with 857, landing him the league’s Freshman of the Year award.

Coach Bobby Hauck was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career, and was a unanimous selection..

The only individual award Montana didn’t claim was offensive player of the year. That went to UC Davis running back Lan Larison, who rushed for 1,101 yards and 13 TDs despite missing three games with injury.

The eight all-Big Sky picks is the most for UM since its last Big Sky championship season in 2009.

Junior Bergen was first team for receiver and for special teams.

Four offensive linemen also earned recognition, with tackle Brandon Casey landing on the first team, center AJ Forbes on the second team, and Chris Walker and Journey Grimsrud earning honorable mentions.

 The Griz also had a pair of cornerbacks earn first-team defensive honors. Billings native Trevin Gradney led the nation in interceptions per game with five on the season, despite missing two Saturdays to injury. Corbin Walker led the team in pass breakups and picked off a pass to a;sp land on the first team.

Montana upheld its “Linebacker U” reputation with three earn all-conference honors: Braxton Hill, a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, was first team; Levi Janacaro and Riley Wilson were second team.

Already the winningest coach in Big Sky with 126 victories, Hauck has been coach of the year a record four times in 12 seasons at Montana. He’s the third four-time winning in league history, joining Nevada’s Chris Ault and Mike Kramer, who was twice at MSU, once at Eastern and once at Idaho State.

Don Read and Joe Glenn had won the coaching honor three times at Montana.

Gillman He is the first Grizzly to earn the league’s Freshman of the Year Award since its debut in 2013.




2023 Big Sky Individual Award Winners

Offensive Player of the Year: Lan Larison, RB, UC Davis

Defensive Player of the Year: Alex Gubner, DL, Montana

Newcomer of the Year: Clifton McDowell, QB, Montana

Freshman of the Year: Eli Gillman, RB, Montana

Coach of the Year: Bobby Hauck, Montana*

* - Unanimous Selection 


First Team All-Conference Offense

QB: Gevani McCoy, Idaho

RB: Lan Larison, UC Davis

RB: Anthony Woods, Idaho

FB: Derryk Snell, Montana State

WR: Efton Chism III, Eastern Washington*

WR: Hayden Hatten, Idaho*

WR: Chedon James, Idaho State

WR: Junior Bergen, Montana

TE: Marshel Martin, Sacramento State

TE: Treyton Pickering, Montana State

OL: Noah Atagi, Weber State*

OL: Marcus Wehr, Montana State

OL: Rush Reimer, Montana State

OL: Brandon Casey, Montana

OL: Jordan Ford, UC Davis

OL: Jackson Slater, Sacramento State

AP: Sean Chambers, Montana State

* - Unanimous Selection 


First Team All-Conference Defense

DL: Alex Gubner, Montana*

DL: Brody Grebe, Montana State

DL: Elijah Ponder, Cal Poly

DL: Zach Kennedy, UC Davis

DL: Eloi Kwete, Northern Arizona

LB: Braxton Hill, Montana

LB: Winston Reid, Weber State

LB: Armon Bailey, Sacramento State

LB: Nolan Askelson, Montana State

LB: Jack Kelly, Weber State

DB: Marcus Harris, Idaho

DB: Maxwell Anderson, Weber State

DB: Cameron Broussard, Sacramento State

DB: Marlon Jones Jr., Eastern Washington

DB: Corbin Walker, Montana

DB: Trevin Gradney, Montana

* - Unanimous Selection 


First Team All-Conference Special Teams

K: Ricardo Chavez, Idaho

P: Brendan Hall, Montana State

KR: Abraham Williams, Weber State

PR: Junior Bergen, Montana

ST: Garrett Graves, Montana

Second Team All-Conference Offense

QB: Tommy Mellott, Montana State

RB: Eli Gillman, Montana

RB: Julius Davis, Montana State

FB: Andrew VanBuren, Portland State

WR: Jermaine Jackson, Idaho

WR: Coleman Owen, Northern Arizona

WR: Jared Gipson, Sacramento State

TE: Hayden Meacham, Weber State

TE: Blake Gobel, Eastern Washington

OL: Jonny Bottorff, Northern Arizona

OL: Shiloh Ta’ase, Portland State

OL: Garrett Weichman, Cal Poly

OL: Jordan Lutui, Weber State

OL: Omer Aigbedlion, Montana State

OL: AJ Forbes, Montana

AP: Trent Tompkins, UC Davis

Second Team All-Conference Defense

DL: Jett Stanley, Sacramento State

DL: Sebastian Valdez, Montana State

DL: Brayden Wilson, Weber State

DL: Dino Kahaulelio, Portland State

DL: Chubba Ma’ae, UC Davis

LB: Evan Tattersal, UC Davis

LB: Teddye Buchanan, UC Davis

LB: Levi Janacaro, Montana

LB: Riley Wilson, Montana

LB: Nick Eaton, UC Davis

DB: Rex Connors, UC Davis

DB: Alex McLaughlin, Northern Arizona

DB: Donovan Saunders, Cal Poly

DB: Calvin Pitcher, Idaho State

DB: George Steele, Northern Arizona

DB: Tizell Lewis, Northern Colorado

Second Team All-Conference Special Teams

K: Gianni Smith, Portland State

P: Ricardo Chavez, Idaho

KR: Michael Wortham, Eastern Washington

PR: Jermaine Jackson, Idaho

ST: Sean McCormick, Idaho

Honorable Mention (Had at least 3 votes)

QB: Kekoa Visperas, Eastern Washington

RB: Marcus Fulcher, Sacramento State

RB: Devon Starling, Northern Arizona

WR: Jermaine Braddock, Portland State

WR: Hendrix Johnson, Northern Arizona

OL: Chris Walker, Montana

OL: Ivan Garza, Sacramento State

OL: Journey Grimsrud, Montana

OL: Nathan Mejia, Sacramento State

OL: Ayden Knapik, Idaho

OL: Austin Lawrence, Northern Colorado

OL: Justus, Perkins, Montana State

OL: Jake Parks, UC Davis

AP: Quincy Craig, Portland State

DL: Keyshawn James-Newby, Idaho

DL: David Rowe, Idaho State

DL: Marcus Howard, Northern Colorado

DL: Mark Ho Ching, Northern Arizona

DL: Dallas Afalava, Idaho

LB: Tre Thomas, Idaho

LB: Parker McKenna, Portland State

LB: Xe’ree Alexander, Idaho

LB: Jacob Stanton, Northern Colorado

DB: Tommy McCormick, Idaho

DB: Jehiel Budgett, UC Davis

DB: Rylan Ortt, Montana State

DB: Naseme Colvin, Weber State

DB: Dillon Juniel, Sacramento State

K: Hunter Ridley, UC Davis

P: Cal McGough, Sacramento State

P: Hunter Green, Northern Colorado

P: Jack Burgess, Weber State

KR: Jermaine Jackson, Idaho

PR: Haze Hadley, Weber State

ST: Hendrix Johnson, Northern Arizona

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