(Editor’s note: University of Montana media release)
Four Montana football standouts have been named to one of three HERO Sports Preseason All-America teams, the online sports publication announced Thursday.
Record-setting senior linebacker Dante Olson was named to the first team defense, and junior linebacker Jace Lewis was named to the first team special teams. Sophomore safety Robby Hauck earned a place on the second team, and junior receiver Samuel Akem earned third-team honors.
Olson was unsurprisingly named 2019 first-team Preseason All-America following a 2018 campaign that earned him seven different All-America accolades and a third-place finish in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award.
The first-team All-Big Sky pick and team MVP shattered the Montana school record with 151 total tackles as a junior and posted the second-most single game tackles in UM history with 24 against Cal Poly. He also finished the year as the NCAA Statistical Champion for tackles per game, averaging 13.7, the most in all of Division-I football (FCS or FBS).
Lewis emerged as a future star linebacker for the Grizzlies as the teams fifth-leading tackler with 62 total takedowns, posting the team’s second-most tackles-for-loss with 7.5, 2.5 sacks for a total loss of 20 yards, two pass breakups, and a quarterback hurry. A standout on UM’s kickoff coverage unit, Lewis’ 62 tackles was the 38th-most in the Big Sky Conference.
Hauck earned a place on the HERO Sports second-team Preseason All-America list, finishing his first season of college football as the nation’s top freshman tackler and the Big Sky’s fifth-leading tackler overall with a total of 95 takedowns.
The finalist for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award for the nation’s top freshman was UM’s second-leading tackler behind Olson (the nation’s top tackler). He received an all-conference honorable mention after four games with a double-digit tackle total, including a career-high 17 at Cal Poly.
Akem earned a third-team Preseason All-America pick after a breakout sophomore season where he hauled in 13 touchdown catches – the sixth-most touchdowns in the nation, and the most in the league. As a second-team All-Big Sky pick, he caught at least one touchdown pass in eight games, and two TD grabs in five games.
Montana’s leading receiver with a Grizzly top-20 total of 863 yards, Akem’s 13 TD catches is the fifth-most in a single season in Grizzly history, tied with legends like Marc Mariani, Marvin Turk, and Mike Rice.
Montana’s four Preseason All-America picks by HERO Sports were the second-most of any team in the Big Sky Conference, following Weber State’s five picks.