Senior fullback Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly’s 20th 1,000-yard rusher for a single season, and senior center Joey Kuperman have been named to the 2017 All-Big Sky Conference Preseason Football Team.
The all-conference preseason team was revealed on Monday during the Big Sky Summer Football Kickoff in Park City, Utah. The team is selected by a group of Big Sky media members and sports information directors.
Named to Athlon Sports' 2017 Preseason Football Championship Subdivision All-America Team earlier this month, Protheroe has amassed 2,297 yards in his first three seasons as a Mustang, No. 8 on the university's all-time career rushing chart.
A graduate of Clayton Valley Charter School in Concord, Calif., Protheroe was the Big Sky’s top rusher last fall, accumulating 1,334 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. The yardage total is No. 5 all-time at Cal Poly and the touchdown total is tied for No. 5.
Named Cal Poly's most valuable offensive back a year ago, Protheroe's postseason honors also included first-team All-America honors by STATS FCS and Hero Sports and first-team All-Big Sky Conference for the second straight year. He produced eight 100-yard games as a junior and has 13 for his Mustang career.
Kuperman, who will start at center for the second straight year, was a first-team All-Big Sky selection last fall.
An honorable mention All-Big Sky choice in 2015, the Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) High School graduate started all 12 games as Cal Poly’s snapper last fall and helped the Mustangs to a No. 1 national ranking in team rushing during the regular season for the fourth consecutive year. The offensive line also was No. 5 in sacks allowed and No. 7 in time of possession.
Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud was selected by the media as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while North Dakota safety Cole Reyes was chosen as the league’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. The pair earned the same honors at the end of the 2016 season.
North Dakota leads all 13 schools in the Big Sky with six all-preseason selections, followed by Eastern Washington with three. The two teams shared the 2016 Big Sky title with 8-0 marks. Weber State has four representatives on the all-preseason team, Northern Arizona and Montana three each and Cal Poly, Portland State and Southern Utah two.
Protheroe is representing Cal Poly at the Big Sky Summer Football Kickoff, which ends Tuesday.
Cal Poly opens fall camp July 26 in preparation for its Week Zero season opener Saturday, August 26, against Colgate at 4 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU.
2017 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference Team
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Cole Reyes, S, North Dakota
Quarterback: Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington
Wide Receivers: Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona (Consensus); Keelan Doss, UC Davis; Jerry Louie-McGee, Montana
Offensive Tackles: David Reese, Montana; Randin Crecelius, Portland State
Offensive Guard: Tyler Shank, Northern Arizona; Demon Taylor, North Dakota
Center: Joey Kuperman, Cal Poly
Tight End: Andrew Vollert, Weber State (Consensus)
Running Backs: John Santiago, North Dakota (Consensus); Brady Oliveira, North Dakota
Fullback: Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly
Placekicker: Griffin Roehler, Northern Arizona
Return Specialist: John Santiago, North Dakota
Defensive Tackle: Robert Torgerson, Southern Utah; Anthony Del Toro, Portland State
Defensive End: Albert Havili, Eastern Washington; Ben Sorensen, Sacramento State
Outside Linebackers: Mike Needham, Southern Utah; Josh Buss, Montana
Inside Linebackers: Mac Bignell, Montana State; Landon Stice, Weber State
Cornerbacks: Deion Harris, North Dakota; Taron Johnson, Weber State
Safeties: Cole Reyes, North Dakota; Mitch Fettig, Eastern Washington
Punter: Jacob DeMaio, Weber State
Special Teams: Hakeem Deggs, Northern Colorado