Pack picked No. 1 in RMAC Preseason Football Coaches' Poll; 10 named Preseason All-RMAC

Pack picked No. 1 in RMAC Preseason Football Coaches' Poll; 10 named Preseason All-RMAC

RMAC RELEASE

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 30, 2018) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo football team was selected as the No. 1 squad entering the 2018 season in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Football Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced by the league Monday at the RMAC Football Kickoff. A total of 10 student-athletes were named Preseason All-RMAC.

The ThunderWolves finished 9-1 in RMAC play last season to earn a share of the championship with Colorado Mesa University. In the 2018 poll, the Pack gathered eight first place votes and totaled 98 points. CMU was second with a first place nod and 88 points, while Colorado School of Mines was third with 84 points and two first place votes. 

Seven of the 10 CSU-Pueblo student-athletes selected as Preseason All-RMAC are on the defensive side of the ball. In addition to Brandon Payer (ILB, Sr., Pine, Colo.), who was honored as RMAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Thursday, Tanner Draper (S, Jr., Amarillo, Texas), Noor Shongolo (OLB, Sr., Commerce City, Colo.), Deyon Sizer (DL, Sr., Aurora, Colo.), Emery Taylor (CB, Jr., Aurora, Colo.), Darius Williams (CB, Sr., Gilbert, Ariz.) and Michael Wristen (DL, Sr., Broomfield, Colo.) were all named to the team. On offense, senior running back Marché Dennard (Phoenix, Ariz.) was named to the preseason team. Specialists Kevin Ribarich (Pueblo, Colo.) was recognized as the preseason all-conference punt returner and Mitchell Carter (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.) was the place kicker. 

The Pack's first opponent, Dixie State University, was fourth in the poll and will visit the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl for the home and season opener Sept. 1. Game time for the RED OUT is set for a 6 p.m. kickoff. 

Season tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (719) 549-2050.

PRESEASON ALL-RMAC BIOS

CARTER

All-RMAC Second Team ... Finished second on the team in scoring with 91 points ... Went 55-for-56 on extra point attempts in the his first season with the Pack ... Finished the year going 12-for-15 on field goal attempts (80%), which included hitting on his first seven attempts ... Recorded a long field goal of 49 yards at Dixie State ... Missed just once from 39 yards and in ... On 77 kickoffs, totaled 4,644 yards to average 60.3 yards per kick and totaled 16 touchbacks ... Closed the season ranked first in the RMAC in scoring among kickers and was second in field goals made and extra points made.

DENNARD

All-RMAC Second Team ... Played in all 12 and started in nine games ... On 164 attempts he gathered 1,083 yards and found the end zone 17 times ... Averaged 90.2 yards per game, 6.6 yards per carry and posted a long rush of 69 yards ... Led the team in scoring with 108 points, as he added a receiving score to finish the season with 18 touchdowns ... Closed the season with six games rushing for more than 100 yards, which included a season-high 159 yards at New Mexico Highlands ... Seven times he found the end zone more than once, which included three, three-touchdown games versus Adams State, Black Hills State and Dixie State (two rush and one receiving) ... He was third in the RMAC in scoring and touchdowns and fifth in rushing yards. 

DRAPER

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Finished the season tied for fourth on the team with 58 tackles (29 solo) ... Added six interceptions (142 return yards) to rank tied for ninth nationally and help guide the ThunderWolves to 23 interceptions to rank tied for fourth in NCAA Division II ... Recorded two of the interceptions in the NCAA Division II Playoff game at No. 1 Minnesota State … Added five break-ups to total 11 passes defended ... Recorded 3.0 tackles for loss (-6 yards) and blocked a field goal attempt ... At the end of the regular season, the ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

PAYER

AFCA All-America First Team ... D2Football.com All-America Second Team ... D2CCA All-Region First Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Cliff Harris Award Finalist ... Started all 12 games at inside linebacker and finished the season with 110 tackles with 71 solo ... Was 2nd in the RMAC in both tackles and solo tackles ... Ranks 22nd nationally in solo tackles ... The 71 solo tackles is a new modern era program record ... Led the RMAC with 14.0 tackles for loss (-50 yards) and added 4.5 sacks to tie for 5th ... Forced three fumbles (T-3rd in RMAC, T-58th nationally) with one recovery ... Compiled six games with double-digit tackle totals with a season high 14 at West Texas A&M (Sept. 9) ... The ThunderWolves defense finished the regular season 10th nationally in both total defense (273.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and 11th in turnovers gained (27) ... Academic All-District and Academic All-RMAC First Team.

RIBARICH

All-RMAC First Team Punt Returner ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Led the RMAC in punt return average (9.7) and total punt return yards (253) ... Ranked 33rd at the end of the regular season in punt return average ... Posted a long return of 34 yards ... Recorded seven punt returns for 88 yards at Dixie State (Nov. 4) to record the most returns and return yards in a game by a member of the RMAC this season ... Added 148 receiving yards on 15 receptions to total 403 all-purpose yards (fifth on the team).

SHONGOLO

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Finished tied for fourth on the team with 58 tackles (25 solo) ... Compiled 7.0 tackles for loss (-17 yards) with twos sacks (-10 yards) ... Recorded one interception and a break-up ... At the end of the season, the ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

SIZER

Don Hansen All-Super Region Four Third Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC Second Team ... Started all 12 games at nose tackle ... Finished third on the team with 59 tackles (30 solo) ... Added 7.5 tackles for loss (-20 yards) to rank third on the team ... Had one sack (-5 yards) ... Recovered a fourth quarter fumble and returned it 15 yards to set up a field goal and move the score to 30-24 in a win against then-No. 8 Colorado Mesa ... At the end of the regular season, the ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

TAYLOR

Don Hansen All-America Honorable Mention ... Don Hansen All-Super Region Four Second Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Started all 12 games at corner ... Finished the regular season as the RMAC leader in passes defended with 18 to rank T-7th in NCAA Division II ... Brought down six interceptions (113 return yards) to rank second in the RMAC and T-9th nationally ... Scored twice on the six interceptions ... Added 3.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) with 45 tackles (28 solo) ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

WILLIAMS

D2CCA All-America First Team ... AFCA All-America Second Team ... D2Football.com All-America First Team ... Don Hansen All-America Second Team ... D2CCA All-Region First Team ... Don Hansen All-Super Region Four First Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Cliff Harris Award Finalist ... Williams finished the regular season T-2nd in NCAA Division II for interceptions with eight, which is also a CSU-Pueblo program record ... Returned those eight interceptions for 176 yards (5th in Division II) and three touchdowns (T-1st in Division II) ... Added nine pass break-ups to finish 2nd in the RMAC in passes defended (17), which also ranks T-23rd nationally ... Compiled 46 tackles (34 solo) with 4.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) and a sack (-6 yards) ... Forced a fumble in the playoff game at Minnesota State (Nov. 18) ... Named RMAC Player of the Week once in 2017 ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

WRISTEN

Played and started in all 12 games after making the move from tight end to defensive line ... Totaled 35 tackles (19 solo) as a defensive end and added 6.5 tackles for loss (-27 yards), which included 3.5 sacks (-20 yards) to rank third on the squad ... Added one fumble recovery and blocked a kick.  

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.