NAU places 4 on preseason All-Big Sky football team

Case Cookus passed for 3,117 yards and 37 touchdowns as a freshman at NAU.

Casey Sapio/Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

OGDEN, Utah  — Northern Arizona placed four offensive players on the preseason All-Big Sky football team announced Monday by the conference.

Leading the way are sophomore quarterback Case Cookus, the reigning FCS Freshman Player of the Year, and junior wide receiver Emmanuel Butler, who teamed up for 15 touchdown passes a year ago. They’re joined on the team by senior offensive tackle Jacob Julian and junior center Blake Porter.

Cookus passed for 3,117 yards and 37 touchdowns as a freshman — including a school-record seven in one game — while finishing fifth in national offensive player of the year voting. Butler had 1,208 receiving yards in addition to the 15 touchdowns.

Julian and Porter were instrumental in helping last season’s NAU offensive produce a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard receiver and 1,000-yard rusher.

Defending champion Southern Utah led the team with five selections: Senior tight end Steven Wroblewski, senior wide receiver Mike Sharp, senior punter Tate Lewis, junior defensive tackle Chance Bearnson and junior linebacker Mike Needham.

NAU and Weber State had four selections apiece. The preseason offensive and defensive players of the year are Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp and Montana defensive end Caleb Kidder.

The complete team is as follows:

Quarterback — Case Cookus, Northern Arizona. Running backs –– John Santiago, North Dakota; Chad Newell, Montana State. Fullback — Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly. Tight end — Steven Wroblewski, Southern Utah. Guards — Cameron Young, Weber State; J.P. Flynn, Montana State. Center — Blake Porter, Northern Arizona. Tackles — Jacob Julian, Northern Arizona; Calvin Steyn, Weber State. Wide receivers — Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington; Mike Sharp, Southern Utah; Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona.

Defensive ends — Caleb Kidder, Montana; Davond Dade, Portland State. Defensive tackles — Chance Bearnson, Southern Utah; Chuntony Johnson, Northern Colorado. Outside linebackers — Mike Needham, Southern Utah; Mac Bignell, Montana State. Inside linebackers — Emmett Tela, Weber State; Manoah Pearson, Sacramento State. Cornerbacks –– Xavier Coleman, Portland State; Taron Johnson, Weber State. Safeties — Cole Reyes, North Dakota; Yamen Sanders, Montana.

Place-kicker — Jonathan Gonzales, Portland State; Punter — Tate Lewis, Southern Utah; Return specialist — Ellis Onic II, Northern Colorado. Special teams — Hakeem Diggs, Northern Colorado.