Big Sky to be conference of comeback QBs
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Long known as being the home to top FCS quarterbacks, the Big Sky may as well be called the conference of comeback signal callers this year.
Four standouts seek to return to excellence after missing all or much of the 2018 season: Northern Arizona's Case Cookus, Northern Colorado's Jacob Knipp, Montana State's Chris Murray and Sacramento State's Kevin Thomson.
Cookus, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound redshirt senior, set the FCS freshman record with 37 touchdown passes in 2015 while winning the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award, but shoulder injuries limited him to four games in 2016 and two games last season. He's passed for 7,962 yards and 74 touchdowns in 29 career games.
Knipp has received a medical waiver from the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility. After having a breakout campaign as a redshirt freshman in 2015, the 6-4, 218-pound Knipp has suffered a season-ending injury in each of the past three years, including a broken collarbone last year. Having been limited to 10 games since 2016, he enters his final season with 4,157 yards and 28 touchdowns through the air.
The 6-2, 180-pound Murray returns as a redshirt junior after sitting out last season to lift his academics. After being named the Big Sky' 2016 freshman of the year, Murray passed for 1,597 yards and rushed for 1,124 yards while accounting for 25 touchdowns two years ago. With Murray's return, Troy Anderson, an all-conference first-team co-choice last season, is scheduled to move back to linebacker.
Thomson, whose injuries have caused him to miss stretches of the last two seasons, was awarded a rare two-year clock extension by the NCAA this offseason, essentially resetting him to junior status. The 6-1, 205-pounder, whose 2014-16 seasons at UNLV were shortened by elbow injuries, has thrown for 25 touchdowns with just four interceptions and rushed for nine more scores in 15 games at Sac State the last two years.
Updated February 27, 2019