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Gage Gubrud picked to repeat Big Sky MVP season

UPDATED: Mon., July 17, 2017, 3:25 p.m.

EWU quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) drops back for a pass during the Red-White Spring football game at Roos Field in Cheney on Saturday, April 29, 2017. (James Snook / For The Spokesman-Review)
EWU quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) drops back for a pass during the Red-White Spring football game at Roos Field in Cheney on Saturday, April 29, 2017. (James Snook / For The Spokesman-Review)

After a record-setting debut for the Eastern Washington University football team, junior quarterback Gage Gubrud has been picked to defend his title as the league’s Offensive MVP, joining two other Eagles on the 2017 Big Sky Conference Preseason All-Conference Team announced Monday by the league.

Gubrud was joined on the preseason all-conference list by senior defensive end Albert Havili and junior safety Mitch Fettig. A year ago, Gubrud joined teammate Cooper Kupp as the MVP on offense, while Fettig earned honorable mention all-league honors. Havili and Gubrud are among the four Eagles serving as co-captains in the upcoming 2017 season.

Gubrud, who was named NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus last year, is EWU’s player representative at the Big Sky Conference Football Kickoff in Park City, Utah, with new head coach Aaron Best also attending. The preseason team picks will be announced Tuesday.

“I couldn’t accomplish any of this without great teammates and coaches,” said Gubrud. “A big part of it are the players around me – they are the main reason I have had so much success. It’s an honor and I thank the Big Sky for the preseason award, but now I have to go out and prove them right. I always have something to prove and the team has something to prove, and we’re going to go out and do that.”

A former linebacker, Havili had 61 tackles with five sacks from his defensive end position in 2016, with two passes broken up and a team-high eight quarterback hurries. Entering his final year as an Eagle, Havili has 148 tackles in his 42-game Eastern career and was a 2013 graduate of Federal Way.

Fettig, a 2014 graduate of Olympia HS, had 97 tackles to rank third on the team a year ago – tops among returning players. He had four interceptions and five passes broken up as a sophomore, and is a candidate for Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year accolades in 2017.

“He’s a good player to have back,” said Best. “He has a year under his belt and over-achieved last year – he belongs in the EKG (Eastern Kind of Guy) family. Nobody, including myself, would have said after a year of starting he would be where he is at.

“But now that the bar has been raised, now you have to raise it even higher,” Best continued. “He’s put that stress on himself, and we love that. We like the challenge of competing at a higher level, and now the challenge is doing it in a leadership role on the field and in the locker room.”

Preseason All-Conference list

Offensive Player of the Year: Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington

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 Guards: 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


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

Special Teams

Placekicker: Griffin Roehler, Northern Arizona

Return Specialist: John Santiago, North Dakota

Punter: Jacob DeMaio, Weber State

Special Teams: Hakeem Deggs, Northern Colorado