SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Joe Protheroe is more than just an All-American.
On Thursday, the Cal Poly senior fullback was honored by the Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association, not as just another All-American, but as Running Back of the Year for the 2018 season.
Only 11 players, including Protheroe, are on the FCS ADA's All-America Team, each one representing his position as the player of the year.
"What more can be said about Joe? There isn't a more deserving player in the country for this award," said Mustang head coach Tim Walsh. "He loves the game and gives much credit to the young people that surrounded him on the field.
"If you ever wanted to block for someone, Joe would be the guy," Walsh added. "He is big and faster than you think with great vision and instincts. A pro career and a college degree await him on his future."
The sixth annual award recognizes the top student-athletes from FCS institutions at 11 different positions. The 2018 class includes student-athletes from 10 different institutions, representing eight different conferences. Voting was conducted by a national panel, consisting of media and SIDs.
"On behalf of the FCS ADA I would like to congratulate all those recognized for their incredible accomplishments on the football field and even more importantly in the classroom," said current FCS ADA President Bill Smith, director of athletics at Bryant University. "These young men are already proving to be great leaders for our future."
From the 11 players listed at the bottom, a national Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year will be announced at a later date and recognized at the National Championship Game in Frisco, Texas, on January 5, during an on-field presentation.
Of the 11 student-athletes, six participated in the 2018 NCAA Division I Football Championship, and two will play in the national championship game as Eastern Washington faces North Dakota State on Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.
With Thursday's announcement, Protheroe has landed on all five All-America first teams announced so far.
The streak started last week as The Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation released their All-America teams. This week, STATS, Inc., HERO Sports and the FCS ADA made their announcements.
The American Football Coaches Association is expected to make its selections known in the next few days.
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.
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.
He tallied 128 or more yards in his last nine games and 215 or more in three of his last four games, including a high of 260. He was the only player in the FCS to rank in the top 16 in single-game highs this season – No. 7 with his 260 yards against Idaho State and No. 16 with 228 yards versus Brown – and he scored 13 touchdowns on the season overall.
A graduate of Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord, Calif., Protheroe was named the team's most valuable player at an awards banquet held at Madonna Inn 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.
The following student-athletes have earned 2018 All-America honors from the FCS ADA as the top players from each of their positions:
QB Devlin Hodges, Samford (Southern Conference)
RB Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly (Big Sky Conference)
WR Michael Bandy, San Diego (Pioneer Football League)
TE Donald Parham, Stetson (Pioneer Football League)
OL Tanner Volson, North Dakota State (Missouri Valley Football Conference)
PK Roldan Alcobendas, Eastern Washington (Big Sky Conference)
DL Derick Roberson, Sam Houston State (Southland Conference)
LB Zach Hall, Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley Conference)
DB Jimmy Moreland, James Madison (CAA Football)
RS D'Angelo Amos, James Madison (CAA Football)
P Chris Faddoul, Florida A&M (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference)