BRANNON, MULITALO AND WASHINGTON EACH NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-BIG SKY
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento State seniors Mike Brannon, Cyrus Mulitalo and Tony Washington were each named to the all-Big Sky Conference football first team, it was announced today. The trio were three of the 12 Hornets to be named first team, second team or honorable mention.
Brannon became just the fourth Sacramento State player (Fred Amey, Brett Shelton, Brent Webber) to earn all-Big Sky accolades four times. The Rancho Cordova native was a first team selection as an outside linebacker for the second consecutive season and also earned honorable mention as a defensive end following his freshman and sophomore seasons. As a senior, Brannon tallied 69 tackles and led the team with 9.0 quarterback sacks and 12.5 tackles-for-loss. He ended his career as Sacramento State’s all-time leader with 27.5 sacks and 52.5 TFLs. A four-year starter, Brannon also ranks fourth in school history with 258 career stops.
Mulitalo is also a repeat selection to the Big Sky first team. The middle linebacker led the Hornets in 2008 with 96 total tackles, marking the third straight season in which he recorded the highest tackle total on the team. He also had two interceptions and broke up six passes. Mulitalo leaves Sacramento State ranked second in school history with 336 career tackles and is fifth with 32.0 tackles-for-loss. A versatile player, Mulitalo was occasionally used at running back during his career and scored a touchdown as a sophomore. Along with his two first-team awards, Mulitalo was named to the second team in 2006.
Washington enjoyed arguably the finest season by a receiver in school history. In just his second year with the team, Washington grabbed 83 passes for 1,279 yards to set the Sacramento State single-season record in both categories. The Simi Valley, Calif., native also had 12 receiving touchdowns to rank second in school history. Despite a short tenure in the Green and Gold (23 games), Washington is fourth with 112 career receptions and 1,693 career receiving yards and tied for fourth with 15 career receiving touchdowns.
A season after being named honorable mention, Hilliard was placed on the second team after rushing for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 10 games. The Sacramento native did most of his damage over the final three games of the year where he rushed for 537 yards. That total included 171 yards against Northern Colorado and a career best 271 at Idaho State. He also scored five touchdowns over that span. Hilliard is also quickly moving up the career rushing list where he is already fifth with 1,908 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Eight players earned honorable mention accolades. That group was comprised of three on offense, four on defense and one on special teams.
On offense, quarterback Jason Smith and linemen Matt Lemley and Ray Navar earned the award. Smith threw for 1,824 yards while completing 56.3 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. A sophomore from Brentwood, Calif., Smith played in nine of the team’s 12 games while battling a nagging ankle injury for most of the season.
Two stalwarts on the offensive line, Navar and Lemley each made a repeat appearance on the all-conference team. Navar started all 12 games at strong tackle and ended his career with 28 starts, including 26 consecutively to end his career. Lemley, a junior from Pittsburg, Calif., started all but one game this season at strong guard. The pair played a pivotal part on a line which paved the way for a rushing attack which averaged 148.9 yards per game. The group also allowed only one sack combined in the team’s final three wins of the season.
Defensively, defensive linemen Zack Nash and Christian Clark, linebacker Mike Hickman, and defensive back Deionte Gordon were each honored. Nash led the team’s defensive linemen with 47 total tackles and also recovered two fumbles. Clark started all 12 games at the center of the line and ended the year ranked second on the team with 9.0 tackles-for-loss, including 5.0 sacks. The sophomore was also a vital member of the special teams where he blocked three kicks.
Hickman earned his second honorable mention award in as many seasons. The senior tallied 50 tackles, with 5.0 for loss and one sack. He also had one pass breakup and recovered a fumble.
A true freshman from Seaside, Calif., Gordon led the team with four interceptions and was the only member of the secondary to start all 12 games. After playing the first 10 games at cornerback, Gordon moved to safety for the final two contests. On the year, he had 76 total tackles, including 2.0 for loss and one sack. He also had three games with 10-plus tackles — the most of any player on the team.
A four-year starter, Juan Gamboa was the lone special teams player to earn honorable mention, The San Jose, Calif., native made a career high 12 field goals and 33 extra points as a senior. He also had 14 touchbacks on kickoffs and put 31 kicks into the end zone. Gamboa ended his career ranked third in school history with 203 points and is second with 95 PATs and 36 career field goals.
The conference honors are just the latest for the team which handed out its own awards on Sunday afternoon. Mulitalo was named the team’s MVP, Brannon was the defensive MVP, Washington the offensive MVP and Gamboa the special teams MVP. Other honorees included Clark (best defensive lineman), Lemley (best offensive lineman), Smith (outstanding quarterback/running back) and Gordon (best defensive back). Senior Kevin Davis earned the Bobby Martinez Award which is voted on by the team and given to the player who has the most dedication. Junior Kevin Moore was named the most improved while freshmen Devon English and Jarrod Banks earned the offensive and defensive scout team MVP, respectively.