OGDEN, Utah – Four Northern Arizona seniors were selected to the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team, announced today by the league office. Leading the way were fullback Nick Butier and tight end RJ Rickert; both preseason picks for the second straight year. Cornerback Marcus Alford and punter Ryan Hawkins were also honored with their first Big Sky preseason distinction.
Butier is one of five unanimous picks to the preseason team. The two-time all-conference honoree and reigning all-first team fullback appeared in all 12 games for NAU last season with 10 starts. He registered 17 catches for 181 yards and 29 rushing yards finishing the season with All-American honors.
Rickert, an All-American in 2013, caught 22 passes for a total of 246 yards. The first team all-conference honoree played in 11 games and led all tight ends in receiving yards. Rickert sat out all of last season due to injury, but is back for his final year.
Alford is the second unanimous pick to the preseason team, giving NAU two out of the five honors. He was credited with 27 tackles and tied for a team high three interceptions. Alford tallied 10 pass breakups, in addition to scoring a pair of touchdowns to rank amongst the best in the nation in the category. His stellar play earned him first team all-conference honors and All-American accolades.
Hawkins, an all-conference selection in 2014, was the only Big Sky player to earn player of the week nods three weeks in a row. He registered 20 punts last season for a total of 1,023 yards. Ten out of the 20 were 50-plus yards, as he averaged 51.2 yards per kick.
2015 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team
Offensive MVP – Cooper Kupp, Jr., WR, Eastern Washington
Defensive MVP – James Cowser, Sr., DE, Southern Utah
Pos. Player Year Hometown School
QB Dakota Prukop Jr. Austin, Texas Montana State
RB #Xavier Finney Sr. Oceanside, Calif. Idaho State
RB Kori Garcia Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. Cal Poly
FB *#Nick Butier Sr. San Luis Obispo, Calif. Northern Arizona
TE R.J. Rickert Sr. Gilbert, Ariz. Northern Arizona
OG #JP Flynn Jr. Bettendorf, Iowa Montana State
OG #Aaron Neary Sr. Richland, Wash. Eastern Washington
C Christian Diehm Sr. Carson, Calif. Idaho State
OT *Clay DeBord Sr. Asotin, Wash. Eastern Washington
OT John Weidenaar Sr. Manhattan, Mont. Montana State
WR *#Cooper Kupp Jr. Yakima, Wash. Eastern Washington
WR #Madison Mangum Jr. Boise, Idaho Idaho State
WR Nnamdi Agude Sr. Corona, Calif. Sacramento State
WR Jamaal Jones Sr. Spanaway, Wash. Montana
PK #Brad Cornish Sr. Santee, Calif. Sacramento State
Returns Ellis Henderson Jr. Vancouver, Wash. Montana
Pos. Player Year Hometown School
DE *#James Cowser Sr. Fruit Heights, Utah Southern Utah
DE Samson Ebukam Jr. Portland, Ore. Eastern Washington
DT Tyler Kuder Sr. Payette, Idaho Idaho State
DT Taylor Sheridan Sr. Littleton, Colo. Montana State
OLB Mario Jenkins So. Nampa, Idaho Idaho State
OLB Kendrick Van Ackeren Sr. Bellevue, Wash. Montana
ILB Darnell Sankey Sr. San Jose, Calif. Sacramento State
ILB Jeremiah Kose Sr. Oceanside, Calif. Montana
CB *#Marcus Alford Sr. Oxnard, Calif. Northern Arizona
CB LeShaun Sims Sr. Las Vegas, Nev. Southern Utah
S Taison Manu Sr. Pocatello, Idaho Idaho State
S Miles Killebrew Sr. Henderson, Nev. Southern Utah
P Ryan Hawkins Sr. Peoria, Ariz. Northern Arizona
Special Teams – Chad Newell Jr. Billings, Mont. Montana State
#2014 First Team All-Conference