Griz Land Four Players on Preseason All-Conference Teams

By ERIC TABER for GoGriz.com

The University of Montana Grizzlies have landed two offensive players and two defensive players on the Big Sky Conference all-league teams announced today at the conference’s annual football kickoff event.

On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Jamaal Jones gets the nod, while Ellis Henderson makes the team as a returner. Defensively, senior linebackers Kendrick Van Ackeren and Jeremiah Kose make the preseason award list.

“I think it’s a deserving honor for all four,” said Griz head coach Bob Stitt. “Jamaal is a guy that will be a go-to guy for us. He was in the spring, and he’s a great leader on offense. Ellis is a big time player. He can make big plays and in the return game he can take it to the house at any point.”

Ackeren Van Kendrick (35)   Photo by Sam Belanger (2)

Kendrick Van Ackeren. Photo by SamBelanger

“Kenny and “Miah” are leaders on our defense. They’re the heart and soul of our defense at the linebacker position. I expect great things out of them.”

Jamaal Jones’ (6’1”, 191, Spanaway, Wash./Washington) inclusion on the list will be of little surprise to Montana fans as the only Griz receiver to surpass the 1,000-yard mark on the 2014 team that returned to the FCS playoffs for the 22nd time in school history.

WR Jamaal Jones (Photo by Todd Goodrich UM)

WR Jamaal Jones (Photo by Todd GoodrichUM)

By comparison, Ellis Henderson(6’0”, 185, Vancouver, Wash./Skyview HS), could be considered a bit of a surprise inclusion after sitting out the 2014 season with health issues. Henderson returns as a former 2nd team All-Big Sky receiver in 2013 after surpassing the 1,000 yard mark.

Kendrick Van Ackeren (6’1”, 220, Belleview, Wash./Hawaii) returns to the Griz linebacker corps as the conference’s 12th-best tackler last season, registering 122 takedowns and averaging 8.7 per game.

Jeremiah Kose (6’2”, 230, Oceanside, Calif./Vista HS) will also be looking to make his mark, registering 117 tackles last season, which put him 15th in the final conference standings in 2014.

Idaho State took home six All-Conference selections to lead the league, followed by Montana State with five, and Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington tie the Griz with four selections each.

2015 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team

OFFENSE

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

DEFENSE

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

Offensive MVP – Cooper Kupp – Jr. – WR – Eastern Washington Defensive MVP – James Cowser – Sr. – DE – Southern Utah