Wagenmann Named Big Sky’s Defensive Player of the Year

By DAVE GUFFEY For GoGriz.com

University of Montana defensive end Zack Wagenmann has been named the Big Sky Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and a total of 21 players from the Grizzlies’ 2014 team received recognition, the league announced today.

A senior from Missoula, Wagenmann was also named to the conference’s first team for the third year in a row. He is currently ranked among the national leaders in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (18.5), and he is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award.

Joining him on the first team on defense were tackle and fellow co-captain on defense, Tonga Takai and free safety Matt Hermanson, while running back Jordan Canada was UM’s first teamer on offense.


Zack Wagenmann. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula.

A three-year starter, Takai, a senior from Honolulu, is one of the Grizzlies’ leading tacklers with 44 stops. He was recently named UM’s recipient of the Larry Miller Award (Outstanding Defensive Lineman).

A senior free safety from Sioux Falls, S.D., Hermanson is ranked fifth in the FCS with 6 interceptions, and he’s Montana’s third leading tackler with 99 stops. Hermanson was voted the recipient of the Tony Barbour Award, which goes to the player, “who best exemplifies outstanding practice habits and makes an unselfish contribution to the betterment of the Grizzly football team.”

A senior from Duarte, Calif., Canada is the fourth player in Griz history to gain more than 1,000 yards twice in his career, and has a team-leading 1,011 rushing yards for 9 touchdowns.


Zack Wagenmann and Tonga Takai. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula.

Montana’s second team selections were wide receiver Jamaal Jones on offense, while cornerback Joshua Dennard and linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren were named to the defensive squad.

A junior from Spanaway, Wash., Jones leads the Grizzlies with 59 catches for 943 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is ranked 25th in the FCS with his 943 receiving yards.

Dennard, a senior from Phoenix, Ariz., has a team-high 10 pass deflections, and UM’s eighth leading tacker with 51 stops. He also has one pick.

A junior from Bellevue, Wash., Van Ackeren leads Montana with 110 total tackles. He also leads the Griz with three fumble recoveries.

Oh Canada photo by Mark Mesenko

Jordan Canada. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula.

The Grizzlies’ sole third team player is linebacker Jeremiah Kose, a junior from Oceanside , Calif, who is second on the team with 102 tackles. He is third on the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss.

Montana had eight players on offense named honorable mention. Those players were senior guard Jordan Hines; senior center Logan Hines; senior quarterback Jordan Johnson; sophomore returner John Nguyen; senior tight end Mitch Saylor; junior kicker Dan Sullivan; junior fullback Jamal Wilson; and senior running back Travon Van.

Five Griz players were named honorable mention on defense. That quartet was junior linebacker Herbert Gamboa; junior cornerback Nate Harris; junior end Tyrone Holmes; senior tackle Trevor Rehm; and junior strong safety Justin Whitted.

The All-Big Sky players are picked by the league’s head coaches. The coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.