Five Thunderbirds gain Big Sky Preseason honors


SPOKANE, Wash. — The Big Sky Conference announced their 2018 Preseason All-Conference Football Team as part of the Big Sky Kickoff, with a handful of Thunderbirds getting the nod and representing Southern Utah.

Southern Utah and Weber State both have five Preseason All-Conference honorees, which leads the league.

The Thunderbird offensive line was strongly represented, as center Zach Larsen, tackle Marquez Tucker and guard PJ Nu’usa were all named to the Offensive Team. The o-line will be a force for Southern Utah this upcoming season, with experienced players coming back at every position.

“We’re excited about our offense and especially our offensive line,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “We feel like we have one of the best offensive lines in the country and we feel like that’s where football teams start is up front.”

At inside linebacker Chinedu Ahanonu got the nod for the preseason team, despite missing part of the season in 2017 due to an injury. He appeared in seven games and had 70 tackles and nine tackles for loss.

After being named a Freshman All-American following the 2017 season, Jalen Russell was named to the preseason team as well. Ahanonu and Russell were SUU’s representatives on defense. The 2018 true sophomore had 32 tackles and three interceptions for SUU last season.

“Chinedu has been a team leader for us ever since day one, he’s a great young man that works hard and is a great example on and off the field,” Warren said. “Jalen came in as a true freshman and really earned his starting spot and a lot of respect from his teammates with his hard work and character.”

The T-Birds open up the 2018 football season on September 1 when they play host to North Alabama.

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