Wristen named NFFCC Coach of the Year; 11 recognized as All-Colorado

Wristen named NFFCC Coach of the Year; 11 recognized as All-Colorado

NFFCC RELEASE

DURANGO, Colo. (December 20, 2017) - Colorado State University-Pueblo Head Football Coach John Wristen was named National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame-Colorado Chapter Coach of the Year, while 11 members of the ThunderWolves were recognized as All-Colorado on the NFFCC teams.

This is Wristen's fourth yearly honor from the NFFCC (2011, 2012 and 2013). Nine of the 11 honorees were recognized as All-NFFCC First Team. From the offense, seniors Zach Boyd (TE, Fort Lupton, Colo.), Corbin Feenstra (C, Superior, Colo.) and Ty McCulley (LT, Pueblo, Colo.) were selected as first team. The defense totaled five first team members in Josh Croy (Sr., DE, Littleton, Colo.), Tanner Draper (So., S, Amarillo, Texas), Brandon Payer (Jr., ILB, Pine, Colo.), Emery Taylor (So., CB, Aurora, Colo.) and Darius Williams (Jr., CB, Gilbert, Ariz.). Junior Kevin Ribarich (WR/Returner, Pueblo, Colo.) was recognized as special teams first team. 

Gathering All-NFFCC Second Team honors were juniors Noor Shongolo (OLB, Commerce City, Colo.) and Deyon Sizer (NT, Aurora, Colo.)

NFFCC BIOS

HEAD COACH JOHN WRISTEN

Wristen was named RMAC Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career and sixth time in the last seven years. He guided the ThunderWolves to their sixth RMAC title in the last seven years. The Pack reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the fifth time in the last seven years. The ThunderWolves scoring offense was second in the RMAC and 24th nationally at the end of the regulars season. CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season fourth nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

FIRST TEAM

BOYD

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Finished T-3rd on the team with 18 receptions and 4th with 203 receiving yards ... Tied for second in touchdowns with three ... Long reception went for 53 yards ... An extension of the CSU-Pueblo offensive line that ranked 3rd in the RMAC and 33rd nationally in sacks allowed (1.27 spg) and were 5th in the conference in tackles for loss allowed (5.73 tflpg) ... Helped block for a 1,000 yard rusher.

CROY

All-RMAC First Team … All-NFFCC First Team ... Named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week after the first game ... Started all 12 games at defensive end after missing last season due to injury ... Tied for second on the team with 59 tackles (26 solo) ... Added 9.0 tackles for loss (-26 yards), which was second on the team and 13th in the RMAC ... Totaled 3.0 sacks (-17 yards), added two break-ups and a forced fumble ... CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team ... Academic All-RMAC First Team and CoSIDA Academic All-District ... Will leave CSU-Pueblo ranked fifth on the program's career tackles of loss (30) list and seventh all-time in sacks (11.5).

DRAPER

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Finished the season tied for fourth on the team with 58 tackles (29 solo) ... Added six interceptions (142 return yards) to rank tied for ninth nationally and help guide the ThunderWolves to 23 interceptions to rank tied for fourth in NCAA Division II ... Recorded two of the interceptions in the NCAA Division II Playoff game at No. 1 Minnesota State … Added five break-ups to total 11 passes defended ... Recorded 3.0 tackles for loss (-6 yards) and blocked a field goal attempt ... At the end of the regular season, the ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

FEENSTRA

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Started all 12 games at center ... His his career, started 34 games at center (34 of his last 35 games) and played in 46 games on the offensive line ... The ThunderWolves scoring offense was second in the RMAC and 24th nationally at the end of the regular season ... The Pack had the 4th best rushing attack in the conference with 191.5 yards per game and led the league in completion percentage (60.9%) ... Helped guide a 1,000 yard rusher ... CSU-Pueblo ranked 3rd in the RMAC and 33rd nationally in sacks allowed (1.27 spg) and were 5th in the conference in tackles for loss allowed (5.73 tflpg) ... Three-time Academic All-America ... Three-time Academic All-District ... 2017 Academic All-RMAC First Team.

MCCULLEY

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Started all 12 games at left tackle and started on the line in all 51 games he played in, missing just one game in his career during his redshirt-freshman season ... At the end of the regular season, the ThunderWolves scoring offense was second in the RMAC and 24th nationally ... The Pack had the 4th best rushing attack in the conference with 191.5 yards per game and led the league in completion percentage (60.9%) ... Guided a 1,000 yard rusher ... CSU-Pueblo ranked 3rd in the RMAC and 33rd nationally in sacks allowed (1.27 spg) and were 5th in the conference in tackles for loss allowed (5.73 tflpg).

PAYER 

AFCA All-America First Team ... D2CCA All-Region First Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Started all 12 games at inside linebacker and finished the season with 110 tackles with 71 solo ... Was 2nd in the RMAC in both tackles and solo tackles ... Ranks 22nd nationally in solo tackles ... The 71 solo tackles is a new modern era program record ... Led the RMAC with 14.0 tackles for loss (-50 yards) and added 4.5 sacks to tie for 5th ... Forced three fumbles (T-3rd in RMAC, T-58th nationally) with one recovery ... Compiled six games with double-digit tackle totals with a season high 14 at West Texas A&M (Sept. 9) ... The ThunderWolves defense finished the regular season 10th nationally in both total defense (273.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and 11th in turnovers gained (27) ... Academic All-District and Academic All-RMAC First Team.

RIBARICH

All-RMAC First Team Punt Returner ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Led the RMAC in punt return average (9.7) and total punt return yards (253) ... Ranked 33rd at the end of the regular season in punt return average ... Posted a long return of 34 yards ... Recorded seven punt returns for 88 yards at Dixie State (Nov. 4) to record the most returns and return yards in a game by a member of the RMAC this season ... Added 148 receiving yards on 15 receptions to total 403 all-purpose yards (fifth on the team).

TAYLOR

D2CCA All-Region Second Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Finished the regular season as the RMAC leader in passes defended with 18 to rank T-14th in NCAA Division II ... Brought down six interceptions (113 return yards) to rank second in the RMAC and T-9th nationally ... Scored twice on the six interceptions ... THe 12 break-ups was T-6th in the RMAC and T-25th nationally ... Added 3.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) with 45 tackles (28 solo) ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

WILLIAMS

D2CCA All-America First Team ... AFCA All-America Second Team ... D2CCA All-Region First Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Williams finished the regular season T-2nd in NCAA Division II for interceptions with eight, which is also a CSU-Pueblo program record ... Returned those eight interceptions for 176 yards (5th in Division II) and three touchdowns (T-1st in Division II) ... Added nine pass break-ups to finish 2nd in the RMAC in passes defended (17), which also ranks T-23rd nationally ... Compiled 46 tackles (34 solo) with 4.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) and a sack (-6 yards) ... Forced a fumble in the playoff game at Minnesota State (Nov. 18) ... Named RMAC Player of the Week once in 2017 ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

SECOND TEAM

SHONGOLO

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Finished tied for fourth on the team with 58 tackles (25 solo) ... Compiled 7.0 tackles for loss (-17 yards) with twos sacks (-10 yards) ... Recorded one interception and a break-up ... At the end of the season, the ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

SIZER

All-RMAC First Team ... All-NFFCC First Team ... Started all 12 games at nose tackle ... Finished tied for second on the team with 59 tackles (30 solo) ... Added 7.5 tackles for loss (-20 yards) to rank third on the team ... Had one sack (-5 yards) ... Recovered a fourth quarter fumble and returned it 15 yards to set up a field goal and move the score to 30-24 in a win against then-No. 8 Colorado Mesa ... At the end of the regular season, the ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

THE THUNDERWOLVES IN 2017

The Pack finished the season with a 9-3 overall record, while their 9-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference mark was good for a share of the league title. CSU-Pueblo advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs as a seven seed. The ThunderWolves fell 16-13 in overtime to No. 1 overall and No. 2 seed Minnesota State University, Mankato. The Pack were No. 20 nationally following the end of the regular season and moved up to No. 17 in the final poll.

The defense closed the regular season top 20 nationally in eight categories, red zone defense (3rd, 57.7%), interceptions (4th, 21), team passing efficiency defense (4th, 88.95), defensive touchdowns (7th, 5), scoring defense (10th, 14.3), total defense (10th, 273.5), turnovers gained (11th, 27) and passing yards allowed (18th, 164.6).

The Pack also finished the regular season top 25 in Division II in turnover margin (17th, 1,0), net punting (20th, 36.8), kick returns (23rd, 23.0), red zone offense (23rd, 88%) and scoring offense (24th, 37.6).

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.