His name is Zack, as in "Sack," and Wagenmann, as in the Big Sky Conference defensive player of the year.
Wagenmann, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior defensive end out of Missoula Sentinel, led four Montana players named first-team All-Big Sky for football Tuesday.
Defensive tackle Tonga Takai also made the first team on defense, as did fellow senior Matt Hermanson at safety. The Grizzlies’ lone first-teamer on offense was running back Jordan Canada.
In all 21 Grizzlies were honored, 17 of them on either the second team, third team or honorable mention. Montana, 8-4 and ranked 12th in The Sports Network Top 25, has an Football Championship Subdivision playoff game against San Diego at 2 p.m. Saturday.
So Wagenmann has at least one game to add to his school-record career total for sacks (33.5).
“Zack hasn’t taken a day off since he stepped on campus five years ago,” said UM’s veteran coach, Mick Delaney. “At Colorado State we had a stretch of about six years where we had six NFL defensive ends. Zack is as good as every single one of them.
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“A couple of them were a little bigger and a couple of them were exactly like him coming out of college – near that 250-, 255-pound mark. Four of them played in the league for three years, a couple played for over 10 years.”
Wagenmann pushed his Big Sky-best sack total to 13.5 Saturday in the 114th Brawl of the Wild, which Montana won 34-7 over Montana State. He forced two fumbles, giving him a league-leading five this season school-record 10 forced in his career.
He also has 48 career tackles for loss, which is just .5 off the record set by Tim Bush from 2000-03.
“I had a great coach, that’s the first thing,” Wagenmann said of his success. “Without having the coaches I’ve had, I’d be nowhere near where I am now.
“Coach Legi (Suiaunoa, UM’s defensive line coach) has done a great job shaping us as football players. He’s huge on technique. I’ve just been blessed with wonderful people around me and I’ve been given some opportunities and been able to take advantage of those.”
Wagenmann the third Griz to win defensive player of the year honors in the past eight seasons. A Montana player has claimed the award 12 times; Tim Hauck (1988-89) and Vince Huntsberger (1999, 2001) did it twice.