SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Joe Protheroe is collecting All-America honors as easily as yards rushing.
The Cal Poly senior fullback earned his third All-America honor of 2018 Tuesday as STATS Inc. placed the record-breaking ball carrier on its first team.
Last week, The Associated Press released its Football Championship Subdivision All-America team for the 2018 season with Protheroe on the first team and senior cornerback Dominic Frasch on the third unit. Protheroe also was named to the 2018 Walter Camp Foundation's FCS All-America Team.
Later this week, the Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association, the American Football Coaches Association and HERO Sports are expected to announce their All-American teams.
Protheroe smashed Cal Poly's single-season and career rushing marks this fall, amassing 1,810 yards this season to break James Noble's record of 1,578 yards and raise his career total to 4,271 yards, eclipsing Craig Young's mark of 4,205 yards set from 1996-99.
"No one can match Joe's passion and love for the game. He truly loves the game of football," 10th-year Mustang head coach Tim Walsh said last month. "He plays with that love and passion every game and he is as tough as they come — big, strong and faster than people think. "Five years went by fast but he definitely has left his footprints on Cal Poly football," Walsh added. "Joe is one of the best players I've coached in 40 plus years!" He is as humble as it gets and the future is still in his hands. I hope we get to see him play on Sundays next year.
"He is a three-time All-American, three-time first-team All-Big Sky, rushed for over 1,800 yards, is married, has three kids and will graduate in four years plus two quarters. I don't know how he does it."
At the team awards banquet Dec. 2, Mustang first-year fullbacks/tight ends coach Kenny McMillan said Protheroe "is a really special running back and one of the hardest-working guys on and off the field. He would stay up late at night to watch film because he wanted to be the best he can be.
"Joe is a silent leader, but when he talked, people listened," McMillan added. "He is a selfless guy and would hold himself accountable for the team."
Protheroe, who finished fourth in balloting for the 2018 Walter Payton Award last week, surpassed the 200-yard mark in rushing three consecutive times late in the season, four for the year and five times in his Mustang career. They are among 23 career 100-yard performances, including the final nine games of the 2018 season. All of those accomplishments are school records.
A graduate of Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord, Calif., Protheroe was named the team's most valuable player after scoring 35 career touchdowns, three shy of the mark.
Protheroe, whose 861 career carries is another record, finished No. 5 in the Big Sky record book for a single season and No. 8 in career rushing in the conference.
The three-time first-team All-Big Sky performer finished No. 1 in the Big Sky and Football Championship Subdivision with his 1,810 yards and is No. 2 among active rushers in the FCS with his 4,271 career yards. Protheroe averaged 35.5 carries and 183.1 yards over eight conference games and is one of six Mustangs with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons.
Also landing on the STATS Inc. All-American first team were UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss, Weber State offensive lineman Iosua Ioeta, Eastern Washington place kicker Roldan Alcobendas and Montana linebacker Dante Olson.
On the second unit are Eastern Washington nose tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli, Portland State tight end Charlie Taumoepeau and Idaho punter Cade Coffey.
The third team included Eastern Washington offensive lineman Spencer Blackburn, Weber State linebacker LeGrand Toia and Montana State all-purpose player Troy Anderson.
Eastern Washington faces six-time FCS national champion North Dakota State in this year's title game Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.