The Mountain West was loaded with running back talent this season, and Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols took a second-team seat behind that talent Tuesday.
The Mountain West announced its first- and second-team all-conference selections, along with its postseason awards. San Diego State swept all three major awards: Senior running back Donnel Pumphrey is the Offensive Player of the Year, senior cornerback Damontae Kazee is the Defensive Player of the Year and junior kick returner Rashaad Penny is the Special Teams Player of the Year.
All three won the same awards last season, and also were all-preseason selections before this season. League coaches and select media voted on the awards.
Joining Pumphrey as a first-team running back is Wyoming junior Brian Hill. Pumphrey is the nation’s active leading rusher with 6,180 yards, and he has 1,908 this season for the West Division champions. Hill has rushed for 1,674 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Mountain Division champions.
McNichols has 1,663 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns while adding 32 receptions for 450 yards and another four touchdowns. His rushing total is currently No. 3 in a single season in Boise State history.
Pumphrey and McNichols both had exactly 2,113 yards from scrimmage, with McNichols scoring 27 touchdowns to Pumphrey’s 15. In six games against common opponents (Colorado State, Wyoming, Utah State, UNLV, San Jose State and Hawaii), McNichols outrushed Pumphrey 1,009-740. In games against teams with winning records, San Diego State had just two and Boise State had six. In those games, McNichols averaged 126.3 yards per game and Pumphrey 64.5.
Against five common foes, McNichols slightly outrushed Hill, 697-645, and both had 10 total touchdowns, though McNichols had 171 receiving yards to Hill’s 5 in those games.
But fret not completely, Bronco fans: there were six All-Mountain West first-teamers. Sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien, senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, senior offensive linemen Travis Averill and Mario Yakoo, sophomore nose tackle David Moa and senior defensive end Sam McCaskill.
On the second team were McNichols, senior linebacker Ben Weaver, senior cornerback Jonathan Moxey, senior safety Chanceller James and senior punter Sean Wale. Junior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, junior center Mason Hampton, senior guard Steven Baggett and senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo received honorable mention.
It was the second straight first-team honor for Rypien and Sperbeck, and the second straight second-team honor for McNichols. Vallejo has been honorable mention the last two seasons, and was second-team in 2014. Yakoo was honorable mention last year.
All-Mountain West top awards
▪ Offensive player of the year: Donnel Pumphrey, Sr., RB, San Diego State
▪ Defensive player of the year: Damontae Kazee, Sr., DB, San Diego State
▪ Special teams player of the year: Rashaad Penny, Jr., KR, San Diego State
▪ Freshman of the year: Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
▪ Coach of the year: Craig Bohl, Wyoming