NAU football racks up preseason accolades

Northern Arizona football continues to rack up the preseason accolades.

Emmanuel Butler and Case Cookus were named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List. The award goes to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Butler, a senior receiver, has had two 1,000-yard plus seasons. He is 597 yards away from becoming NAU’s all-time receiving yards leader and three touchdown catches away from that career record.

Cookus, a sophomore quarterback, completed 80 of 119 passes for 1,173 passing yards last year before getting hurt, including an 87-yarder at ASU. He was the 2015 FCS STATS Freshman Player of the Year.

The watch list is compiled by a national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.

The watch list includes 10 quarterbacks, five wide receivers, four running backs, one fullback, one tight end and one offensive tackle. The Big Sky Conference had the most nominees with four.

Earlier in the week, Butler was selected as a member of the FCS STATS Preseason All-America Second Team.

The Phoenix native was a unanimous Preseason All-Big Sky selection.

NAU opens the season Sept. 2 at Arizona.

NAU men’s basketball unveils 2017-18 schedule

NAU men’s basketball unveiled its 2017-18 schedule this week and it features some familiar faces and a slew of 2017 postseason teams.

The Lumberjacks open the season at Arizona on Nov. 10, then host Embry Riddle on Nov. 13 in their first home game. NAU plays at ASU on Nov. 17.

The Lumberjacks’ schedule features 10 foes that played in a postseason tournament last year.

“We are excited about our schedule,” said NAU head coach Jack Murphy in a press release. “It begins with some great challenges and prepares us well for our league season. Playing both Arizona and Arizona State gives us a great opportunity to play in front of our alumni in their backyard.”

NAU faces the Sun Devils in a tournament and then plays at Kansas State in the Las Vegas Invitational. Then in the final leg of the tourney, they play at the Orleans Arena in Sin City against Hampton on Nov. 23 and then either Rider or UC Irvine on Nov. 24.

After that NAU goes on a road trip to California, playing at Santa Clara and CSU Bakersfield. The California theme continues when they host San Diego Christian on Dec. 6, and they play at San Diego on Dec. 9.

The Lumberjacks host South Dakota on Dec. 14 and then wrap up non-conference play in Florida, at South Florida and then at Jacksonville.

NAU has nine Big Sky home games, Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Idaho State, Weber State, Southern Utah, Sacramento State and Portland State.

The Lumberjacks’ nine league road games are Weber State, Idaho State, Southern Utah, Montana State, Montana, Northern Colorado, North Dakota, Idaho and Eastern Washington.

The Big Sky Championships will be in Reno, Nev. at the Reno Events Center March 6-10.

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