Strong again Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Mountain West announced today its 2021 All-Conference football teams and individual award winners, as chosen by the 12 head coaches and a select media panel.
Nevada junior quarterback Carson Strong has been honored as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year for the second-consecutive year, while San Diego State junior defensive lineman Cameron Thomas was named the MW Defensive Player of the Year.
San Diego State junior punter/place-kicker Matt Araiza earned MW Special Teams Player of the Year and UNLV quarterback Cameron Friel has been selected as the MW Freshman of the Year. Brady Hoke of San Diego State is the MW Coach of the Year.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – CARSON STRONG, JUNIOR, QB, NEVADA
- First back-to-back winner of Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year award since 2015-16 (San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey) and fifth back-to-back winner overall.
- 17th time a quarterback has won the award.
- Finished the regular season ranked top-10 nationally in completions per game (3rd; 30.4), passing yards (4th; 4,175), passing yards per game (5th; 347.9), passing touchdowns (6th; 36), completion percentage (8th; 69.9) and total offense (8th; 330.6).
- The 4,175 passing yards are the third-most by a Mountain West quarterback in league history, while the 36 touchdowns are tied for the fourth-most. Additionally, the 36 passing touchdowns are a single-season program record.
- Leads the Mountain West with nine 300-yard passing performances, tying for the second-most in single-season league history and most since 2013.
- Earned MW Offensive Player of the Week honors twice in 2021 (Sept. 6 and Oct. 11).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – CAMERON THOMAS, JUNIOR, DL, SAN DIEGO STATE
- First San Diego State player to earn the MW Defensive Player of the Year honor since Damontae Kazee won it in 2015 and 2016.
- Is the third Aztec to win the defensive honor as Kirk Morrison (2003 & 2004) and Damontae Kazee (2015 & 2016) both won it twice.
- Led the Aztecs to their first MW Football Championship Game since 2016.
- Finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in sacks per game (0.96) and 15th in tackles for loss per game (1.3).
- Completed the regular season with 66 tackles, including 20.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
- Leads the Mountain West with 11.5 sacks.
- Named MW Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 15.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR – MATT ARAIZA, JUNIOR, P/PK, SAN DIEGO STATE
- San Diego State has earned Special Teams Player of the Year honors in four of the last seven years.
- First punter to earn the honor since 2014 (Air Force’s Will Conant).
- Finished the regular season with a 51.8 punt average, which is on pace to set a NCAA single-season record.
- Set NCAA records for most 50-yard punts (36) and 60-yard punts (17) in a season.
- Has six punts of at least 70 yards and two 80-yard boots, including the longest in the country at 86 yards.
- Leads the nation in punt average (51.8), while tying for first in FBS in punts inside the 20-yard line (34).
- Has also made 16 field goals, including three from at least 50 yards.
- Named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on four occasions this season.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – CAMERON FRIEL, QB, UNLV
- Sixth UNLV player to earn the MW Freshman of the Year honor and second in consecutive seasons.
- Becomes just the fifth quarterback to earn the award and first since 2017 (UNLV’s Armani Rogers).
- Ranks fourth among FBS freshmen in completion percentage (62.4), seventh in passing yards per game (178.7) and 10th in passing yards (1,608).
- The 1,608 passing yards ranks seventh in Mountain West in 2021.
- Named MW Freshman of the Week on Nov. 8.
- Passed for more than 200 yards in four different games as a rookie.
COACH OF THE YEAR – BRADY HOKE, SAN DIEGO STATE
- Second career Mountain West Coach of the Year honor for Hoke (2010).
- First San Diego State head coach to earn the honor since Rocky Long in 2015.
- Led the Aztecs to an 11-1 regular season, including a 7-1 mark in MW action, and their first appearance in the MW Football Championship Game since 2016.
- 2021 is the first season San Diego State has won 11 games in the regular season.
- San Diego State has been ranked for seven weeks this season, including each of the four College Football Playoff Rankings.
- Guided one of the most dangerous defenses in the nation, ranking second in rushing defense (78.5 yards allowed per game) and ninth in scoring defense (17.2 points allowed).
Offensive Player of the Year – Carson Strong, Jr., QB, Nevada
Defensive Player of the Year – Cameron Thomas, Jr., DL, San Diego State
Special Teams Player of the Year – Matt Araiza, Jr., P/PK, San Diego State
Freshman of the Year – Cameron Friel, QB, UNLV
Coach of the Year – Brady Hoke, San Diego State
2021 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL FIRST TEAM
Pos. Player Cl. Team
QB Carson Strong* Jr. Nevada
WR Khalil Shakir* Sr. Boise State
WR Romeo Doubs* Sr. Nevada
WR Deven Thompkins Sr. Utah State
RB Brad Roberts Jr. Air Force
RB Charles Williams* Sr. UNLV
TE Trey McBride Sr. Colorado State
OL Hawk Wimmer Sr. Air Force
OL John Ojukwu Sr. Boise State
OL Alex Akingbulu Sr. Fresno State
OL William Dunkle Jr. San Diego State
OL Zachary Thomas Sr. San Diego State
PK Jonah Dalmas So. Boise State
KR Jordan Byrd Sr. San Diego State
Pos. Player Cl. Team
DL Scott Patchan* Sr. Colorado State
DL Tristan Nichols Sr. Nevada
DL Cameron Thomas** Jr. San Diego State
DL Viliami Fehoko* Jr. San José State
LB Darius Muasau* Jr. Hawai‘i
LB Caden McDonald* Sr. San Diego State
LB Kyle Harmon* Sr. San José State
LB Chad Muma* Sr. Wyoming
DB Evan Williams Jr. Fresno State
DB Khoury Bethley Sr. Hawai‘i
DB Patrick McMorris Jr. San Diego State
DB Trenton Thompson Sr. San Diego State
P Matt Araiza Jr. San Diego State
PR Romeo Doubs Sr. Nevada
*Two-Time First-Team Selection | **Three-Time First-Team Selection
2021 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL SECOND TEAM
Pos. Player Cl. Team
QB Jake Haener Sr. Fresno State
WR Jalen Cropper Jr. Fresno State
WR Calvin Turner* Sr. Hawai‘i
WR Isaiah Neyor So. Wyoming
RB Greg Bell* Sr. San Diego State
RB Xazavian Valladay Sr. Wyoming
TE Cole Turner Sr. Nevada
OL Ben Dooley So. Boise State
OL Jake Stetz * Sr. Boise State
OL Aaron Frost* Sr. Nevada
OL Jack Snyder Sr. San José State
OL Keegan Cryder Sr. Wyoming
PK Matt Araiza Jr. San Diego State
KR Savon Scarver Sr. Utah State
Pos. Player Cl. Team
DL Jordan Jackson Sr. Air Force
DL Scott Matlock Jr. Boise State
DL David Perales* Sr. Fresno State
DL Keshawn Banks Sr. San Diego State
LB Vince Sanford Jr. Air Force
LB Daiyan Henley Sr. Nevada
LB Jacoby Windmon Jr. UNLV
LB Justin Rice Sr. Utah State
DB JL Skinner Jr. Boise State
DB Cortez Davis* Sr. Hawai‘i
DB Tayler Hawkins Sr. San Diego State
DB C.J. Coldon Jr. Wyoming
P Ryan Stonehouse Sr. Colorado State
PR Stefan Cobbs Jr. Boise State
*Two-Time Second-Team Selection | ** Three-Time Second-Team Selection
2021 HONORABLE MENTION
Air Force: Tre Bugg III, DB; Brandon Lewis, WR; Corvan Taylor, DB.
Boise State: Octavius Evans, WR; Tyreque Jones, DB; Kekaula Kaniho, DB; Ezekiel Noa, LB; Riley Whimpey, LB.
Colorado State: Cayden Camper, PK; Cam’Ron Carter, LB; Dequan Jackson, LB; Cam Reddy, OL; Barry Wesley, OL.
Fresno State: Kevin Atkins, DL; Levelle Bailey, LB; Josh Kelly, WR; Arron Mosby, DL; Ronnie Rivers, RB.
Hawai‘i: Jonah Laulu, DL; Kohl Levao, OL; Ilm Manning, OL; Nick Mardner, WR; Micah Vanterpool, OL.
Nevada: Jamaal Bell, KR; Gray Davis, OL; Jacob Gardner, OL; Lawson Hall, LB; Sam Hammond, DL; Jermaine Ledbetter, OL; Jordan Lee, DB; Tyler Orsini, OL; Dom Peterson, DL.
New Mexico: Tavian Combs, DB; Joey Noble, DL; Jerrick Reed, DB; Kyle Stapley, OL; Luke Wysong, PR.
San Diego State: Alama Uluave, OL; Michael Shawcroft, LB; Jonah Tavai, DL.
San José State: Derrick Deese Jr., TE; Cade Hall, DL; Will Hart, P; Tre Jenkins, DB; Jay Lenard, DB; Alii Matau, LB; Tyler Nevens, RB; Nehemiah Shelton, DB; Tyler Stevens, OL.
UNLV: Austin Ajiake, LB; Daniel Gutierrez, PK.
Utah State: Shaq Bond, DB; Alfred Edwards, OL; Nick Heninger, DL; Jordan Nathan, PR; Quazzel White, OL; Derek Wright, WR.
Wyoming: Garrett Crall, DL; Cole Godbout, DL; Logan Harris, OL.