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It's not a clean sweep, but it's darn close.

Cal Poly fullback Joe Protheroe has been named to six of seven All-American teams released during the awards season. On Monday, the fifth-year senior landed on Phil Steele's Football Championship Subdivision All-America First Team.

Protheroe has also been named to All-American teams from the Associated Press, STATS Inc., Walter Camp Foundation, HERO Sports and the FCS Athletics Directors Association.

The Phil Steele Big Sky Conference first team included Protheroe and senior defensive back Dominic Frasch.

Protheroe's race to land All-American honors appeared unlikely at the start of the year.

The runner was working to come back from a knee injury that robbed him of all but two games of his 2017 season. He was granted a medical redshirt and participated in spring camp as well as the Mustang's spring game.

Then, in the season-opening game against North Dakota State on Sept. 1, Protheroe gained just 57 yards on 14 carries. In the second game of the season, against Weber State, Protheroe mustered only 60 yards despite carrying the ball 22 times.

Then the 5-foot-10, 230-pound back went on a tear that would rewrite the Cal Poly record books, gaining at least 128 yards rushing in each of the final nine games of the season while rushing for more than 200 yards four times.

Protheroe racked up 228 yards on 43 carries with three touchdowns in the Mustangs' third game of the season, a 44-15 win over Brown on Sept. 14.

The following week, against eventual FCS runner-up Eastern Washington, Protheroe ran 43 times for 176 yards.

Protheroe's lowest total the rest of the season was against Sacramento State, where he rushed for 128 yards on 32 carries.

Starting on Oct. 27, Protheroe topped 200 yards in three straight games. The streak began in a win over Arizona State where he rushed for 217 yards on 39 carries.

On Nov. 3, the Mustangs lost to Montana State by a score of 49-42 as Protheroe ran 36 times for 215 yards and two scores. Then, in a 37-14 win over Idaho State, Protheroe picked up 260 yards on 41 carries.

On the season, and despite a slow start, Protheroe totaled 1,810 yards on 363 carries. He scored 13 touchdowns. Protheroe's previous season-high for rushing attempts came in 2016 with 252.

Protheroe ends his career as the leader in rushing yards, both for a career and a single season. He shattered James Noble's single-season record of 1,578 yards and his career total of 4,271 yards tops Craig Young's mark of 4,205 yards set from 1996-99.

Protheroe also finished fourth in balloting for the 2018 Walter Payton Award, given to the FCS' most outstanding offensive player.

Protheroe, whose 861 career carries is another record, finished No. 5 in the Big Sky record books for a single season and is 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.

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at


Sports Editor

Alumni Fresno State