D2Football.com Preseason List Includes 4 GNAC Standouts
Ja'Quan Gardner (left), Jordan Herdman (center) and Jesse Zalk were all named All-Americans in 2015 by a variety of organizations.
Ja'Quan Gardner (left), Jordan Herdman (center) and Jesse Zalk were all named All-Americans in 2015 by a variety of organizations.

Monday, August 22, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Four GNAC all-stars, including the returning Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, have been selected as Preseason All-Americans by D2Football.com.

Humboldt State junior running back Ja’Quan Gardner, the defending GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, Simon Fraser senior linebacker Jordan Herdman, the defending Defensive Player of the Year, and Central Washington senior wide receiver/return specialist Jesse Zalk were all named to D2Football.com’s Preseason All-America First Team. Zalk was selected as the squad’s all-purpose player. In addition, Humboldt State junior offensive lineman Alex Cappa, twice the league’s Offensive Lineman of the Year, earned second team honors.

Gardner was the prime mover behind Humboldt State’s 2015 GNAC championship team. The junior was a consensus First Team All-American and the runner-up for the Harlon Hill Award after he set GNAC records with 2,266 rushing yards, 338 carries and 2,369 all-purpose yards. He led Division II in rushing yards, rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns as he became the second running back in a row to be named the GNAC’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Herdman is the two-time defending GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and was named as a 2015 All-American by both the D2CCA and the Don Hansen Committee. Herdman led the conference with 133 tackles, which included a GNAC single-season record 72 solo tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss. He enters the season needing just 70 tackles, 59 solo tackles and 30 assisted tackles to become the GNAC career leader in all three categories.

Zalk was selected First Team All-GNAC at both wide receiver and kick return specialist and was named a first team All-American by the Don Hansen Committee. Zalk finished fifth in Division II with a combined 989 kick return yards and third with a total of 186 all-purpose yards per game. Zalk returned 31 kicks for an average of 26.2 yards per return and also returned 18 punts for an average of 9.9 yards per return. At wide receiver, Zalk averaged 75 yards per game on 43 catches with four touchdowns.

In addition to his repeat selection as the GNAC Offensive Lineman of the Year, Cappa was named a an All-American by the D2CCA, D2Football.com and the Don Hansen Committee. Cappa helped to anchor an offensive line that allowed the Lumberjacks 473.8 yards of total offense per game, 18th best in Division II, and allowed just 1.42 sacks per game, 37th best in Division II.

The 2016 GNAC football season commences on Thurs., Sept. 1, with Humboldt State playing at Carson-Newman in Jefferson City, Tenn., and Azusa Pacific hosting West Texas A&M. The remainder of the GNAC opens by playing games against Division I-FCS teams on Sat., Sept. 3. Simon Fraser is at Idaho State, Central Washington is at Portland State and Western Oregon is at Sacramento State.