Thirteen T-Birds Honored By Big Sky, Browning Named Newcomer of the Year

November 20, 2012
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Cody Larsen, Zak Browning and Gavin Farr
Cody Larsen, Zak Browning and Gavin Farr
Courtesy: SUU Strategic Communications
CEDAR CITY, Utah, Nov. 20 - Thirteen Southern Utah football players, led by Newcomer of the Year Zak Browning, earned post-season recognition from the Big Sky Conference, it was announced today. Voting for the awards was conducted among the league's coaches, who were not allowed to vote for players on their own teams.

The Thunderbirds have two first-team, five second-team and six honorable mention players on the 2012 all-Big Sky team.

Offensive lineman Gavin Farr and defensive lineman Cody Larsen are the first-team selections, while quarterback Brad Sorensen, center Dylan Fox, wide receiver Fatu Moala, fullback Lavell Ika and kicker Colton Cook have been named to the second-team.

Earning honorable mention are WR Mitch Jessop, OL Cody Burgess, TE Henna Brown, DE James Cowser, SS Miles Killebrew and Browning, a linebacker.

Browning, a freshman from Camas, Wash. (Union HS), led the Thunderbirds and the conference with 116 total tackles, and his 11.6 tackles per game average ranked second in the Big Sky and seventh in the nation. He had seven games with 10 or more tackles, including an 18-tackle performance at Montana and 15-tackle tallies against Montana State and Eastern Washington. The 18 tackles are the second-most in a game by an SUU freshman during its NCAA era.

Farr, a junior from South Ogden, Utah (Northridge HS), started every game at left guard for the Thunderbirds after moving over from center last spring. He was a two-time first-team all-Great West Conference selection before the Thunderbirds moved to the Big Sky this season, including the GWC's Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2010 as a redshirt freshman.

Larsen, a senior defensive tackle from Draper, Utah (Jordan HS) led the Thunderbirds with 14.0 tackles for loss and was second on the squad with 6.5 sacks. He ranked second in the Big Sky and 27th in the nation in TFLs, and sixth in the BSC and 45th in the country in sacks while regularly drawing double-teams from opposing offenses. He finished the season with 48 total tackles, including a career-high 11 at Montana. Like Farr, Larsen was a three-time all-GWC selection.

Sorensen, a senior from Grand Terrace, Calif. (BYU/San Bernardino CC/Colton HS) became Southern Utah's career passing and total yards leader in every category this year and he leaves the school with all but two single-season passing and total yards marks as well as many single-game records. This past season he completed 273-of-439 pass attempts for 3,139 yards and 23 touchdowns. The GWC Offensive MVP in 2011, Sorensen finished second in the Big Sky in total yards, passing yards per game and passing touchdowns per game.

Fox, a senior from Cedar City, Utah (Cedar HS) started every game this season at center after moving from fullback in the final game of the 2011 season. He graded out at 96 percent and allowed just one sack in 2012. He was also an academic all-District selection in 2012.

Moala, a junior from Kearns, Utah (Utah/Kearns HS) led SUU and finished fourth in the Big Sky in receiving yards per game (73.6) and receptions per game (three-way tie at 5.9), numbers which ranked 33rd and 38th in the nation.  His 65 receptions in 2012 are the 10th-most in a season at SUU and his nine receiving touchdowns are tied for the fourth-most in a season at SUU.

Ika, a senior from Salt Lake City (Bountiful HS), started all 11 games at fullback for the Thunderbirds. Primarily a blocking back, Ika finished the season with 21 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.

Cook, a junior from Bountiful, Utah (Viewmont HS) led the Big Sky with 19 field goals, including 13-of-13 inside the red zone where the Thunderbirds scored 36 out of 38 times, 95 percent, which was the best success rate in the nation. He also led SUU in scoring with 87 points. His 1.73 field goals per game were the second-most in the country while his 7.91 points per game ranked 29th. His 19 field goals set the SUU season record.

Jessop (Jr, Providence, Utah/Mountain Crest HS) earned honorable mention despite missing the final four games of the season. He still finished third on the team with 33 receptions for 519 yards and three TDs. Burgess (Jr, Panaca, Nev./Lincoln County HS) missed two games with injury but started the other nine at left tackle. Brown (Sr., Magna, Utah/Cyprus HS) moved to tight end at the beginning of the season and was the starter there and at H-back all year. He was second on the team with 35 receptions, for 414 yards and three TDs, and also carried the ball 25 times for 45 yards.

Cowser (RFr, Fruit Heights, Utah/Davis HS) led the Thunderbirds and was fifth in the BSC in sacks with 7.5 and was tied for third in the BSC (second on the team) in tackles for loss with 13.5, numbers which ranked 25th and 27th in the nation. Cowser tallied 61 total tackles, fifth on the team. Killebrew (Fr., Henderson, Nev./Foothill HS) started every game and finished third on the team with 69 tackles. He was named national Freshman of the Week by the Sports Network after tallying 15 tackles, 11 solo, at Portland State.

Montana State quarterback DeNarius McGhee was named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in as many seasons, while MSU linebacker Jody Owens earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Eastern Washington Coach Beau Baldwin and Cal Poly Coach Tim Walsh shared Coach of the Year honors.

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