FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Six Northern Arizona players were recognized by College Sports Madness with Preseason Big Sky honors, announced by the organization.
Sophomore quarterback Case Cookus, junior wide receiver Emmanuel Butler, junior center Blake Porter, and senior left tackle Jacob Julian were all selected to the offensive first team. Senior linebacker Jake Thomas was named to the defensive second team, while athlete Aaron Manning was predicted as the freshman of the year.
Butler set a new single season receiving yards mark of 1,208. He tied the school record for touchdown catches in a season with 15, and was one of the top receivers in the FCS ranking in the top 10 in receiving touchdowns, receiving yards, and receiving yards per game.
Cookus, the reigning FCS Freshman Player of the Year, completed 37 touchdown passes; breaking an 11-year old FCS freshman record. He registered 3,117 passing yards – the sixth most in NAU history in a season. Cookus also led the nation and tied the NAU single-game passing touchdowns record of seven, while finishing fifth in national offensive player of the year voting.
Julian and Porter were both an integral part in the Lumberjacks putting up so many points on the scoreboard last season. Julian at left tackle, and Porter at center, helped NAU to only its third 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard receiver, and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season.
Thomas started 10 of 11 games last season for NAU, finishing third on the team with 68 tackles. He made a career-high 11 stops versus Weber State, including a pair of sacks for a drop of eight yards. Thomas was credited with a team-high 4.5 sacks for a loss of 24 yards and a pair of pass breakups.
Manning competed at Rancho Cucamonga High School, where he earned First Team All-CIF, First Team All-League, and First Team All-Inland Valley honors.
For the full list of honorees click here.