Posted: Jul 15, 2013 2:47 PM by MTN Sports
PARK CITY, Utah - DeNarius McGhee can't help but laugh when asked if he feels pressure after being named 2013 Big Sky Conference Preseason MVP.
"Pressure is just a word," McGhee said Monday at the 2013 Big Sky Conference Kickoff in Park City, Utah. "It doesn't exist when you're prepared. Pressure is something that applies when you're not ready."
While admitting that he has entered a game "once or twice" in his Bobcat career feeling less than prepared, he says the idea of pressure doesn't apply to Montana State's 2013 squad because of the work the team is doing over the summer.
"We have a very close team and we're working hard this summer. The great thing about summer workouts is that no one else can see what we're doing. And we're working hard."
McGhee, who already owns a pair of Big Sky MVP awards, enters 2013 viewed as the league's top offensive player and Preseason All-Big Sky quarterback, and he is not alone among Bobcat stars. Senior receiver Tanner Bleskin and senior running back Cody Kirk join McGhee on offense, while senior defensive end Brad Daly is MSU's lone choice on defense.
"We have a lot of guys who could be on this list," McGhee said. "We have a lot of great players that are working hard."
As for being tabbed as the loop's top offensive player entering his senior season, McGhee finds it positive but mostly meaningless.
"It's an honor that people think I have talent," McGhee said, "but it's kind of irrelevant in that it's preseason and not post-season. This is based on the work that the team put in the year before, so it has no weight. We're really focused on getting prepared the right way."
McGhee, Bleskin and Kirk have combined for over 13,000 yards of offense in their careers. Each of the three has at least some chance at the top spot on MSU's records list in that category. And each of the three have seen considerable action, with McGhee returning as a fourth-year starter and Bleskin and Kirk serving as mainstays at their positions for three years.
Daly enters 2013 in a spot similar to Caleb Schreibeis a season ago. Recognized regionally but largely ignored nationally, Schreibeis finally clawed his way onto the final regular season Buck Buchanan Award List in November. From there, he became the first Bobcat to earn that award, and an avalanche of post-season honors followed.
Daly's profile is similar, after earning Second Team All-Big Sky honors last season, to Schreibeis'. "Brad has the chance to be a dominant, productive player," MSU coach Rob Ash said. "I don't see our play at defensive end dropping from last year with Caleb and Brad to this year with Brad and Preston (Gale)."
The preseason all-conference team generally reflects the preseason league standings, although in that context NAU is viewed as the league's most talented team. NAU has six preseason all-conference picks, followed by MSU with four, and Eastern Washington, Montana, Cal Poly and Southern Utah with three each.
Meantime, Montana senior linebacker Jordan Tripp was named the Big Sky Conference preseason Defensive MVP.
Joining Tripp on the preseason All-Big Sky team were senior offensive tackle Danny Kistler Jr. and junior defensive end Zack Wagenmann.
"This is a very prestigious honor for Jordan," said Griz head coach Mick Delaney. "When you take into consideration the number of outstanding defensive players, particularly at linebacker, that there are in the Big Sky Conference, being named the preseason MVP is really something.
"That is one more thing that signifies what kind of football player and what type of person Jordan is."
A total of 31 players, from offense, defense and special teams, were named preseason All-Big Sky Conference in voting by the media and the conference's sports information directors.
Northern Arizona had a league-high six selections. Montana State had four, including the preseason Offensive MVP in senior quarterback DeNarius McGhee.
Tripp, a four-year starter, is on the Sports Network's preseason Buck Buchanan watch list for the FCS defensive player of the year. He finished 10th in the balloting for the award last season.
A Missoula native, Tripp was second on the team with 95 tackles last season and had a team-high 13.5 stops for loss. He was named to several All-America teams as a junior and was a first team All-Big Sky pick. He will be one of UM's co-captains on defense this year.
"There are some great defensive players and great linebackers in this conference," Tripp said. "You saw last year (Montana State linebacker) Jody Owens was the league MVP, and Caleb McSurdy, one of my best friends, won it the year before, and (Eastern Washington linebacker) J.C. Sherritt won it the year before that.
"To be in that kind of company with those kind of players, one of whom is my best friend, is awesome. I couldn't be more honored.
"Obviously you have to show up on Saturday, play football and utilize the gifts you have been given. I am going to prepare every single week and give my best effort every game, and hopefully our team will be successful, which is what it is all about."
Kistler, who will serve as UM's co-captain on offense, is one of the premier lineman at the FCS level and will be starting for the third straight season in 2013. He has played in 35 career games and has 29 starts thus far in his career.
Last season, Kistler, of Seattle, started all 11 games at right tackle and was a first-team All-Big Sky selection. He was also the co-recipient, along with guard Jake Hendrickson, of the team's Paul Weskamp Award, which is presented to the Grizzlies' outstanding offensive lineman.
Wagenmann, of Missoula, had a breakout season in 2012. He ranked fourth in the FCS with 1.05 sacks per game and tied for sixth on the team with 50 tackles. He led the Grizzlies with a team-high 11.5 sacks and was second on the squad with 13.0 tackles for loss.
Wagenmann was named to three All-America teams following his sophomore season: Associated Press (second team), Sports Network (third team) and Phil Steele Magazine (fourth team). He was also a first-team All-Big Sky selection.
"All three of those players were outstanding last season, and we expect even bigger things from them in 2013," Delaney said. "They are not only very good players but very good people and team leaders as well."
2013 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference Team (offense)
Pos. ... Player (School, Year, Hometown)
QB ... DeNarius McGhee (Montana State, Sr., Euless, Texas)
RB ... Zach Bauman (Northern Arizona, Sr., Chandler, Ariz.)
RB ... Cody Kirk (Montana State, Sr., Frenchtown, Mont.)
FB ... Dalton Turay (UC Davis, Jr., Pleasanton, Calif.)
OG ... Tyler Worthley (Sacramento State, Sr., Dublin, Calif.)
OG ... Gavin Farr (Southern Utah, Sr., South Ogden, Utah)
C ... Mitch Gaulke (Portland State, Sr., West Linn, Ore.)
OT ... Danny Kistler Jr. (Montana, Sr., Seattle, Wash.)
OT ... Giovanni Sani (Cal Poly, Sr., Modesto, Calif.)
WR ... Greg Hardin (North Dakota, Sr., Bellevue, Neb.)
WR ... Tanner Bleskin (Montana State, Sr., Great Falls, Mont.)
WR ... Morris Norrise (Sacramento State, Sr., Berkeley, Calif.)
WR ... Fatu Moala (Southern Utah, Sr., Kearns, Utah)
TE ... R.J. Rickert (Northern Arizona, Jr., Gilbert, Ariz.)
K ... Colton Cook (Southern Utah, Sr., Centerville, Utah)
Ret. ... Greg Hardin (North Dakota, Sr., Bellevue, Neb.)
2013 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference Team (defense)
Pos. ... Player (School, Year, Hometown)
DE ... Zack Wagenmann (Montana, Jr., Missoula, Mont.)
DE ... Brad Daly (Montana State, Sr., Helena, Mont.)
DT ... Sullivan Grosz (Cal Poly, Sr., Fresno, Calif.)
DT ... Tim Wilkinson (Northern Arizona, Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
OLB ... Jordan Tripp (Montana, Sr., Missoula, Mont.)
OLB ... Trevor Spence (Idaho State, Sr., Aberdeen, Idaho)
ILB ... Ronnie Hamlin (Eastern Washington, Sr., Lacey, Wash.)
ILB ... Clarence Bumpas (Northern Colorado, Sr., Colorado Springs, Colo.)
ILB ... Anthony Morales (Weber State, Sr., Edmond, Okla.)
CB ... Anders Battle (Northern Arizona, Sr., Phoenix, Ariz.)
CB ... T.J. Lee III (Eastern Washington, Sr., Seattle, Wash.)
S ... Lucky Dozier (Northern Arizona, Sr., Sacramento, Calif.)
S ... Allen Brown (Eastern Washington, Sr., Tacoma, Wash.)
P ... Andy Wilder (Northern Arizona, Sr., Scottsdale, Ariz.)
ST ... Chris Judge (Cal Poly, Sr., Westlake Village., Calif.)