All-Time Great West Conference Football Team Announced
Dec. 14, 2011
NAPERVILLE, Ill. - With the football portion of the Great West Conference coming to an end and one of the original members still alive in the 2011 Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, it is a good time to release the all-time Great West team, as selected by interested observers of the league over the years. The Great West had a great eight-year run of excellence in the FCS ranks and some considered the league to be one of the finest top to bottom within the timeframe. The Gridiron Power Index consistently ranked the league as the best in the FCS from 2004-2007, and even with the departures and additions in 2008, the Great West continued to be ranked in the top four among the FCS leagues.
Heading the All-Time Great West team are three individuals who were named Buchanan Award winners from 2004-2006 - linebacker Jordan Beck, defensive lineman Chris Gocong and linebacker Kyle Shotwell from Cal Poly. All three players put the Great West on the map in the early stages of the league and all three played in the National Football League, with Gocong still active. Beck had 132 tackles to lead the Great West in 2004, Gocong led the country in sacks with 19 in 2005, and Shotwell led the nation in tackles for loss with 21 in 2006.
The defensive backfield is led by a trio of players who earned All-America honors in their careers - Asa Jackson of Cal Poly, the only defensive player to be named first-team All-Great West all four years and was named Defensive Player of the Year two years, Kenny Chicoine from Cal Poly who led the league in interceptions with seven in 2004, and Reed Doughty from Northern Colorado who led the nation in total tackles in 2005 (159).
On offense, three all-American wide receivers and a quarterback who did nothing but win lead the way. Northern Colorado's Vincent Jackson played in the Great West just one year, but he set quite a benchmark with 80 catches for 1,382 yards (2nd in FCS) and 11 touchdowns in 2004 before heading to the NFL. Ramses Barden played on team with the triple option offense at Cal Poly, but he became a focal point as the third option with 134 receptions for 2,724 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2007 and 2008 in earning back-to-back Offensive Player of the Year honors, while Southern Utah's Tysson Poots averaged 84.33 receptions and 1,182 receiving yards and 13.33 TDs in his final three years for the Thunderbirds and was named the 2010 Offensive Player of the Year. The quarterback of our All-Time Great West team had a record of 20-2 in his junior and senior years as a starter at North Dakota State. Steve Walker's TD-INT ratio may not have been the greatest at 36-14, but all he did was win. He led the Bison to their first first No. 1 ranking at the FCS level and three victories over FBS teams (Minnesota, Ball State, Western Michigan).
In the special teams area, punter Mike Dragosavich's name will never appear in any NCAA record book, but you can't blame him - his offense kept moving the ball and his number of attempts never met the minimums required in the statistical standards. The North Dakota State punter averaged an FCS-high 46.2 per punt in 2006 and he followed that up with a 45.4 averaged in 2007, which would have ranked second if he had enough punts recorded. Two-time all-conference performer Parker Douglass from South Dakota State is the all-time Great West kicker after averaging 15.5 field goals per season from 2006-07 - five of his field goals were from 50 or more yards, including an all-time Great West best of 57 yards vs. Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 27, 2007. Return Specialist Nick Miller from Southern Utah led the FCS ranks in all-purpose yards in 2008 and was named GWC Special Teams Player of the Year that season, while NDSU's Shamen Washington returned both a kickoff and a punt for a score in earning the same honor in 2007.
The all-time coach went to Cal Poly's Rich Ellerson, who led the Mustangs to three league titles and two trips into the FCS playoffs. The 2005 Cal Poly team shared the league title with UC Davis, but was granted an at-large invitation to the playoffs where the Mustangs knocked off perennial power Montana, 35-21, before bowing out in the next round at Texas State, 14-7. Ellerson was named Great West Coach of the Year on three occasions (2004, 2005, 2008) and had his team ranked as high as No.3 at one point before leaving San Luis Obispo for the head coaching job at Army.