LOGAN, Utah – Utah State had six football players earn various all-Mountain West accolades, including defensive back Jalen Davis and placekicker Dominik Eberle, who both garnered first-team honors, as the league office announced its postseason football awards Wednesday.
In all, Utah State had four offensive and two defensive players recognized for a total of six all-conference awards. Boise State led the Mountain West with 19 all-conference honorees, followed by Fresno State (16), Colorado State (10), San Diego State (10), Nevada (8), Utah State (6), Wyoming (6), Hawai’i (5), New Mexico (5), UNLV (4), San José State (4) and Air Force (2).
Along with Davis and Eberle’s first-team honors, Utah State also had four players earn honorable mention all-Mountain West accolades in offensive tackle Roman Andrus, offensive center Quin Ficklin, safety Dallin Leavitt and tight end Dax Raymond.
San Diego State senior running back Rashaad Penny was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and the Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year, while Boise State junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was named the MW Defensive Player of the Year. Penny is earning the Special Teams honor for the third-straight season. UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors and Fresno State’s Jeff Tedford was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year.
Davis, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior cornerback from La Mesa, Calif. (Liberty HS), finished the season ranking first in the Mountain West and seventh in the nation with his five interceptions, and first in the conference and eighth nationally with his 18 passes defended (1.5 pg). He also ranked first on the team with his 4.0 sacks and was second with his 5.0 tackles for loss, while adding one forced fumble as he started all 12 games. He finished the regular season with a team-best 13 pass breakups and ranked 10th with his 32 tackles.
Davis, who was named a unanimous mid-season All-American and one of 13 finalists for the Jim Thorpe Ward as the top defensive back in the nation, ranks tied for first in the nation with his three defensive touchdowns. He is also the only player in the nation with three interception returns for a touchdown and one of just three FBS players to have multiple interceptions in multiple games during the season. Furthermore, he is the first FBS player to have three interceptions and return two of them for touchdowns in the same game since 2012, doing so against BYU on Sept. 29. Davis also had a career-high four pass breakups against Hawai’i on Nov. 18, which ranks tied for the ninth-most in a game at the FBS level this year.
Eberle, a 6-2, 180-pound sophomore placekicker from Nuremberg, Germany (Redondo Union (CA) HS), leads the Mountain West and ranks sixth nationally in field goal percentage (.889), is third in the conference and ranks 35th in the nation in field goals made per game (1.33), and is eighth in the MW and 55th in the nation in scoring (7.8 ppg). He is 16-of-18 on field goal attempts this season, including 7-of-7 from 20-29 yards, 3-of-4 from 30-39 yards, 4-of-5 from 40-49 yards, and 1-of-1 from 50-plus yards, as those 16 made field goals are tied for the sixth-most in a single season in school history. He has also made all 45 of his extra points on the year to set a single-season school record for points scored by a kicker with 93, as those 45 extra points made rank tied for third and the 45 extra point attempts rank fourth all-time at USU for a single season.
Eberle also set a single-game school record for points scored by a kicker with 19 against San José State on Sept. 23, as he was 4-of-4 on field goal attempts (23, 52, 20, 27) and 7-of-7 on extra points, both of which are career highs. His 52-yard field goal against the Spartans was a career long and tied for the 10th-longest in school history, while his 19 points scored are the second-most in MW history by a kicker and the most by a non-senior.
Eberle, who is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award as the top placekicker in the nation, has kicked off 69 times for 4,229 yards this season for an average of 61.3 yards per kickoff with 38 touchbacks, which is an average of 55.1 percent of the time.
Andrus, a 6-4, 300-pound junior offensive lineman from El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Oak Ridge HS/Snow JC), started all 12 games at left tackle and had an overall performance grade of 91 percent for the season, which ranked second on the team. During the year, he graded out at 94 percent in effort, 89 percent in assignment and 84 percent in technique. He also recorded 29 knockdowns during the year, including a season-high seven against Wyoming.
Ficklin, a 6-2, 290-pound junior offensive lineman from Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain HS/BYU), started all 12 games at center and had an overall performance grade of 93 percent for the season, which ranked first on the team. During the year, he graded out at 96 percent in effort, 89 percent in assignment and 82 percent in technique as he allowed just one sack in 12 games. He also recorded a team-best 49 knockdowns during the year, including a season-high 11 against Wyoming.
Andrus and Ficklin are part of an Aggie offensive line that allowed just two sacks in its last five games of the regular season and helped Aggie running backs record four 100-yard rushing games during that same time span. USU’s offense also ranks second in the Mountain West and 16th nationally in red zone offense at 91.4 percent, as it has scored 32 times on 35 trips, with 19 touchdowns and 13 field goals. And, the Aggies also ranked fourth in the conference with an average of 31.0 points scored per game.
Leavitt, a 5-10, 205-pound senior safety from Portland, Ore. (Central Catholic HS/BYU), ranks third on the team with 75 tackles and is 26th in the Mountain West with an average of 6.2 tackles per game, which includes 0.5 tackles for loss this year. Leavitt, who started all 12 games at safety, ranks tied for fifth in the conference and tied for 62nd in the nation with his three interceptions, which are the second-most on the team. He is also fourth on the team with his four pass breakups and his seven passes defended rank second. Overall, Leavitt recorded at least five tackles in nine games this year.
Davis and Leavitt lead a Utah State defense that ranks second in the Mountain West and is seventh in the nation with 26 forced turnovers, and ranks first in the conference and second in the nation with its 15 forced fumbles. USU’s defense also ranks tied for second in the nation with five touchdowns, and is third in the MW and 18th in the nation allowing just 181.8 passing yards per game. USU’s defense also ranks tied for fourth in the conference and tied for 37th in the nation in red zone defense at 80.0, as it has allowed its opponents to score on 32 of 40 trips, with 20 touchdowns and 12 field goals. And finally, USU’s defense ranks fourth in the MW and 18th in the nation in fourth down conversions at 39.1 percent.
Raymond, a 6-5, 245-pound redshirt sophomore tight end from Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), finished the season ranking second among all Mountain West tight ends with 36 receptions for 414 yards. Overall, he ranked second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards, while adding one receiving touchdown. Of his 36 receptions, 26 resulted in a first down, with seven of those receptions being on third down. Raymond finished the season catching at least one pass in all 12 games, including multiple receptions in nine contests. He also had a streak of five or more receptions in four-straight games, and led the Aggies in receptions five times during the year, including a career-high six catches against Colorado State.
Utah State, which is bowl eligible for the sixth time in the last seven seasons, finished the 2017 regular season with a 6-6 record and tied for fourth place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 4-4 league ledger. Bowl selections will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 3.
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