More Conference Honors for Montana Grizzly Football Standouts
The Big Sky Conference announced its annual postseason football honors today (Tuesday), and the Montana Grizzlies are well represented.
UM Sports Information Director Eric Taber reports that with an FCS-best eight interceptions this season, cornerback Justin Ford earned one of the league's marquee individual awards and six Grizzlies earned first-team All-Big Sky honors, as the conference rolled out its end-of-year awards.
Ford was named the Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year while a total of 14 Grizzlies earned All-Big Sky honors, including six first-team selections – tied for the most in the league, and the most for the Grizzlies in one season since 2011.
In his first season as a Grizzly after arriving from Louisville, Justin, a junior, has been one of the most dominant defensive backs in all of Division-I football, going on an unprecedented streak with eight interceptions in eight-straight games. His eight picks are not only the most in FCS football, but in FBS and D-II football as well. In addition to interceptions, he also ranks third in the nation in total passes defended and is second in the Big Sky and top-15 in the FCS in fumbles recovered.
Linebacker Patrick O'Connell leads the Big Sky in sacks as a junior and enters the postseason third in the FCS total sacks as well. The native of Kalispell earned first-team All-Big Sky honors alongside Ford Tuesday after leading the Big Sky total sacks with 13. He also ranks third in the league in both tackles for loss and forced fumbles and is ranked No. 8 in the conference in total tackles.
Safety Robby Hauck rounds out the first-team All-Big Sky picks for the Griz, after a second straight season as one of the top tacklers in the conference with 107 to date. He was a second-team all-conference pick in 2019.
Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere and Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen were named offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively.
Montana's Malik Flowers, Brian Buschini and Trevin Gradney were all named first team special teams players.
Here are the other Montana Grizzlies honored by the Big Sky Conference:
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
Conlan Beaver, offensive line
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
Jace Lewis, linebacker
Alex Gubner, defensive line
THIRD TEAM OFFENSE
Hunter Mayginnes, offensive line
HONORABLE MENTION TEAM
Cole Grossman, tight end
Mitch Roberts, receiver
Joe Babros and Justin Belknap, defensive ends
Congrats to all these guys and to the entire team for a great season. Enjoy your bye week ahead of the playoff game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium December 3.
26 Intriguing Montana Books That Make Great Gifts