Seven Griz Receive Preseason Honors From Phil Steele Magazine

By ERIC TABER

Montana senior linebacker Josh Buss earned yet another preseason All-America accolade, and six other Grizzlies were named to the 2018 Phil Steele FCS Magazine preseason All-Big Sky team, the publication announced Friday.

Buss was named a first-team All-American by Phil Steele, earned a place on its All-Big Sky first team, and was named its preseason Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year as well.

Receivers Keenan Curran and Jerry Louie-McGee were named to the second and third All-Big Sky teams, respectively. Louie-McGee was also named a first-team all-conference punt returner.

On defense, senior tackle David Shaw earned second-team all-conference honors, while junior end Jesse Sims and linebacker Dante Olson were named to the third-team. Kicker Brandon Purdy was also named to the second-team All-Big Sky list.

Photo courtesy of UMAthletics

This is the second first-team preseason All-America honor Buss has earned so far this summer after earning a spot on the STATS FCS first-team list as well. He has also been named to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award and the Butkus Award watch list. The Big Sky Conference also named Buss its preseason Defensive Player of the Year as well at the league’s media days in Spokane, Wash.

Buss finished the 2017 season with a place on Phil Steele’s FCS third-team All-America list after totaling 94 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, and a pair of interceptions.

With 36 career TFLs, Buss now ranks No. 8 in Montana history in that category. He needs 18 tackles-for-loss as a senior to become the all-time leader. With 198 career tackles, he is just three away from cracking UM’s all-time top-40 tacklers list.

Shaw is the Grizzlies’ seventh-leading returning tackler from last season and is expected to be a leader on one of UM’s deepest groups, the defensive line. He came to Missoula as a junior after transferring from the University of Maryland.

Sims picks up his first major accolade since being handed down the #37 legacy jersey number. The Stevensville native is UM’s third-leading returning tackler from last season and started all 11 games as a sophomore. He was named “Offseason MVP” after his freshman year for his work in the weight room as well.

Olson was a second-team All-Big Sky performer on special teams in 2017 and is a two-time winner of the Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year. He is also a two-time Academic all-conference student and was named the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year as a true freshman.

Curran returns for his senior Grizzly campaign as the leading receiver from 2017 with 803 yards on the year. He was an All-Big Sky honorable mention and won the team’s Terry Dillon Award for outstanding back or receiver. He currently ranks No. 24 on UM’s career receiving yards list.

Louie-McGee earned two preseason accolades from Phil Steele as a receiver and returner, just as he did from the Big Sky Conference at the end of the 2017 year, and for good reason. The junior from Coeur d’Alene brought audiences to their feet with a pair of electric punt return touchdowns in his two years as a starter. He’s also UM’s second-leading returning receiver this year, with 645 yards in the air last season.

He holds a school, Big Sky, and FCS freshman record for catches in a game with 21 against Cal Poly in 2016, and owns the school record for average receptions in a season that year as well with 9.1. He also sits at No. 30 on UM’s top-30 career receiving yards list with 1,358.

Purdy was a third-team All-Big Sky kicker in 2017 after finishing the season as the best kicker, statistically speaking, in the league.

The Kalispell native made 88.2 percent of his field goal attempts (15/17), the best percentage in the Big Sky, and third-best in the nation. He averaged 1.36 field goals-per-game, the seventh-best average in the country. He was No. 3 in the Big Sky in overall scoring with 89 points and No. 2 in scoring by kick.

The 2018 Phil Steele FCS Magazine is available now, only at philsteele.com. The Grizzlies will hold their third practice of fall camp at 2:30 on Friday afternoon.

Montana’s 2018 Phil Steele preseason All-Big Sky selections
First Team
Josh Buss – Defense
Jerry Louie-McGee – Punt Return

Second Team
Keenan Curran – Receiver
David Shaw – Defensive Tackle
Brandon Purdy – Kicker

Third Team
Jerry Louie-McGee – Receiver
Jesse Sims – Defensive End
Dante Olson – Linebacker

2018 Phil Steele preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Josh Buss

Montana’s 2018 Phil Steele preseason All-America selections
Josh Buss – First Team