Colorado Springs, Colorado - San Diego State senior Rashaad Penny (Norwalk, Calif.) became the first player in Mountain West history to win two player-of-the-year awards when he was named the MW Offensive Player of the Year and the MW Special Teams Player of the Year, the league announced today.
Penny became the first returner in league history earn the MW Special Teams Player-of-the-Year award in three consecutive seasons (2015-17) and the second player overall (also Utah kicker Louie Sakoda from 2006-08). The Aztecs have now won the MW Offensive Player-of-the-Year award three straight years (Donnel Pumphrey in both 2015 and 2016, Penny in 2017), the first time that has happened in league history.
Penny was joined on the first team by fellow captain Kameron Kelly (Wylie, Texas), who made it in his first year at cornerback after playing safety his first three seasons.
SDSU also had five players land on the second team in senior tight end David Wells (Clovis, Calif.), redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Keith Ismael (Daly City, Calif.) and Tyler Roemer (Fernley, Nev.), junior linebacker Ronley Lakalaka (Kalihi, Hawaii) and true freshman Warrior Tariq Thompson (San Diego/St. Augustine HS). Senior wide receiver Mikah Holder (Oceanside, Calif./Oceanside HS) and junior Parker Baldwin (Siloam Springs, Ark.), meanwhile, were honorable-mention selections.
Penny, a five-time MW Offensive Player of the Week winner this year, and a two-time MW Special Teams Player of the Week and Walter Camp FBS National Offensive Player of the Week pick, has rushed for a NCAA FBS-best 2,027 yards and 19 touchdowns on 275 carries (7.4 avg.), while adding 18 catches for 142 yards (7.9 avg.) and two touchdowns, 15 kickoff returns for 459 yards (30.6 avg.) and two touchdowns, and two punt returns for 70 yards (35.0 avg.), including a 70-yard touchdown.
Penny, a finalist for the Walter Camp Player-of-the-Year Award, and a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award (college player of the year), and the Doak Walker Award (nation’s premier running back), currently leads FBS in rushing yards (2,027), rushing yards per game (168.9), all-purpose yards (2,698) and all-purpose yards per game (224.8), and is second in total touchdowns (24), points (144) and points per game (12.0), tied for third in rushing touchdowns (19), tied for fourth in kickoff return touchdowns (2), fifth in rushing yards per carry (7.4), seventh in kickoff return average (30.6) and tied for 10th in punt return touchdowns (1). Penny has rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 of the team’s 12 games this year and five times eclipsed 200 yards. He became the fourth San Diego State player to earn first-team honors on three occasions, joining Pumphrey (2014-16), Leon McFadden (2010-12) and Kirk Morrison (2002-04).
Kelly, meanwhile, picked up his first career postseason award in his first season at cornerback. Kelly has totaled 62 tackles (50 solo), four tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a quarterback hurry. He ranks tied for fifth in the MW in both interceptions per game (0.25) and in passes defended per game (INT + PBU) (0.92). Kelly has backed a defense that ranks first in FBS in fourth down conversion percentage (.143), fifth in first downs allowed (168), eighth in rushing (110.4), 12th in total (303.5), 16th in scoring (18.4) and 26th in passing (193.1).
Arguably the best blocking tight end in the league, Wells earned his second straight second-team honor after catching nine passes for 133 yards (14.8 avg.) and two touchdowns in 11 games. Wells, who caught the game-winning touchdown in SDSU’s 20-17 win over No. 19/19 Stanford on Sept. 16, is rated as the 13th-best tight end in the country by Pro Football Focus and the fourth-best pass blocker. Additionally, he caught nine of the 11 passes thrown his way, good for an 81.8 percentage (according to PFF).
Ismael and Roemer each grabbed second-team accolades in their first year playing at the collegiate level. Both started all 12 games, Ismael the first seven at center and the last five at right guard, and Roemer all 12 at left tackle, blocking the blindside for quarterback Christian Chapman. The duo blocked for an Aztec unit that has produced 11 100-yard rushing games by two different backs in 12 games, and ranks second in the MW in time of possession (ninth nationally, 33:24) and rushing yards per game (12th nationally, 252.3). According to Pro Football Focus, Ismael has allowed just two sacks in 317 pass snaps, while Roemer has surrendered three in 317 pass snaps.
Lakalaka made the all-MW team for the first time as a second-team selection as he leads the team with 67 tackles (35 solo), while adding 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks for 30 yards and five quarterback hurries. He has started all 11 games he has appeared in on the season at one of the two outside linebacker spots in Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense.
Thompson joined Lakalaka on the all-MW second-team defense, totaling 54 tackles (39 solo), five interceptions for 83 yards, three tackles for loss, three pass breakups, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and three pass breakups. A true freshman, Thompson is tied for the MW lead and tied for 10th nationally in interceptions per game (0.42). He is the only freshman in the country this year with multiple interceptions in multiple games.
Holder garnered honorable-mention recognition for the first time of his career. On the season, Holder leads the team with 43 catches for 602 yards (14.0 avg.) and two touchdowns. He has caught 29.9 percent of SDSU’s passes this season and has 31.8 percent of the team’s yards, posting 61 more receiving yards (602) than the next-two Aztecs combined (541).
Baldwin also earned honorable-mention accolades as he has registered 65 tackles (second behind Lakalaka’s 67), 0.5 tackles for loss, an interception and two pass breakups. Baldwin has started 11 of the 12 games this year, only playing one snap on special teams at Hawai’i because of an injury. He plays the signature “Aztec” position in Long’s 3-3-5 defense.
San Diego State (10-2), which is ranked 25th in the latest Amway Coaches Poll, has won four consecutive games by a combined score of 157-47. The Aztecs have reached double-digits in wins for a school-record third straight season.
SDSU will find out its bowl destination next Sunday (Dec. 3).
Aztec Club members and San Diego State football season ticket holders can purchase tickets through deferred payment with Aztec Club Priority Point rank determining seat locations until Dec. 3. Click here for more information. The general public can purchase tickets online (GoAztecs.com) starting two hours after the bowl announcement on Dec. 3, and in person (SDCCU Stadium Window E) and over the phone ((619) 283-7378) beginning on Dec. 4.
2017 Mountain West All-Conference Football Awards (SDSU winners only)
Offensive Player of the Year: Rashaad Penny, Sr.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Rashaad Penny, Sr.
RB Rashaad Penny, Sr.
PR/KR Rashaad Penny, Sr.
DB Kameron Kelly, Sr.
TE David Wells, Jr.
OL Keith Ismael, RS-Fr.
OL Tyler Roemer, RS-Fr.
LB Ronley Lakalaka, Jr.
DB Tariq Thompson, TR-Fr.
WR Mikah Holder, Sr.
DB Parker Baldwin, Jr.