The University of Montana landed 18 players on all-Big Sky Conference teams, with a league-best 12 named to the first, second, or third teams, the conference announced on Tuesday.
Montana had four first team selections in wide receiver Jamaal Jones, defensive tackle Caleb Kidder, linebacker Herbert Gamboa, and FCS sack leader Tyrone Holmes.
Senior wide receiver Jamaal Jones (Spanaway, Wash.) picks up a first team nod after climbing Montana’s career receiving yard list to second, and needing just 123 more yards to become the Grizzlies leading receiver of all-time.
Jones leads the Griz with 1092 yards this season, and 2,896 career yards. He is ranked sixth in the nation in receiving yards this year, and his nine touchdowns ties him at 10th for most TDs in the Big Sky.
After being bestowed Montana’s legacy number 37, junior Caleb Kidder (Helena, Mont.) put together a first team all-conference season at defensive tackle.
Kidder picked up a stat in nearly every defensive category as Montana’s fourth leading tackler, with 71 total takedowns, six tackles for loss, six pass deflections, five pass break-ups, an interception, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick.
On a post-season awards list deep with linebackers, Herbert Gamboa gets a first team selection at the outside linebacker position. The senior from San Clemente, Calif. is Montana’s fifth leading tackler this season with 60 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a pass breakup, a pass deflection, and a fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown against Eastern Washington.
Senior defensive end Tyrone Holmes, a finalist for the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year award, finished the regular season as the nation’s leader in sacks (14). His first team all-Big Sky nod caps off a senior season where many felt could have earned the Defensive Player of the Year award from the Big Sky.
Holmes currently sits in fourth place on Montana's all-time sack list with 30.5 in his illustrious career as a four-year starter. He needs just two more sacks to move into third place with 32, and just 2.5 more move into second place.
Holmes has also picked up 43.5 career tackles-for-loss, placing him in sixth place on Montana's all-time ranking. With just two more TFLs this season, Holmes can pass three more former Grizzlies, and move into third on the all-time ranking with 45.5.
Earning a place on the second team were offensive tackle John Schmaing, reigning Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week Daniel Sullivan, and inside linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren.
Van Ackeren leads the Grizzlies in total tackles with 125 in 10 games this season, the second most in the Big Sky Conference behind Sacramento State’s Darnell Sankey, who finished his season with 153 total takedowns. Van Ackeren is also fourth in the nation in total tackles this season, with 60 solo tackles, 65 assisted tackles, averaging 12.4 per game.
Redshirt junior Ellis Henderson picked up two spots on the third team list as a receiver and a kickoff return specialist. Redshirt sophomore Connor Strahm earned a special teams nod. Senior Jeremiah Kose got the call at inside linebacker. Senior Nate Harris was recognized at cornerback.
Receiving honorable mentions were senior transfer wide receiver Ben Roberts, redshirt junior offensive guard Devon Dietrich, junior running back John Nguyen, redshirt junior cornerback JR Nelson, junior safety Yamen Sanders, and senior punter Chris Lider.
Overall, Northern Arizona led all teams by placing five players on the first team, followed by Southern Utah and Montana placing four players on the first team.
Southern Utah and Montana led all teams with 12 players selected for all-Big Sky honors, with North Dakota and Portland State adding 11 players to the mix.
Montana State senior tackle John Weidenaar etched his name in Bobcat football history Saturday, setting a school record for consecutive games started, and he did so again Tuesday. Weidenaar and tight end Beau Sandland each landed First Team All-Big Sky honors, the league announced.
Weidenaar started all 49 of his games at Montana State, and helped anchor a Bobcat offensive line that paved the way for one of the FCS’ top five offenses. Montana State averaged a Big Sky-leading 519.8 yards and 41.9 points a game in 2015. Sandland transferred to MSU from Miami in 2014 and redshirted, playing as a senior this fall. He led Big Sky tight ends with 71.6 receiving yards per conference game.
Weidenaar and Sandland were two of 11 Bobcats honored by the league on Tuesday. Seven of those 11 call the offensive side of the ball home. Quarterback Dakota Prukop and defensive tackle Taylor Sheridan each earned second team honors. Prukop finished the regular season third in the FCS in total offense with 347.5 yards per game, throwing 28 touchdown passes and rushing for 11 more. Sheridan logged 10 tackles for loss, among the most for league interior linemen, forcing two fumbles and blocking three kicks.
Offensive guard JP Flynn, receiver Mitchell Herbert and running back Chad Newell each earned Third Team All-Big Sky honors. Flynn started every game at left guard for MSU this year. Newell rushed for 831 yards, and his 13 touchdowns was second-most among league running backs. Herbert caught 42 passes for 562 yards and eight touchdowns.
Center Joel Horn, kicker Luke Daly and special teams player Logan Jones each earned honorable mention honors. Linebacker Mac Bignell also made the honorable mention list, sharing the Big Sky lead in tackles-for-loss (1.69 per game) and fumbles forced (0.38 per game) in conference games.
The All-Big Sky players are picked by the league's head coaches who are not allowed to vote for their own players.