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Weddle, Sakoda Earn MWC Player of the Year Accolades

Weddle, Sakoda Earn MWC Player of the Year Accolades


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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West Conference announced the 2006 all-conference football teams and individual award winners Tuesday, as selected by the nine head coaches and a media panel. Utah had two student-athletes earn player of the year awards, while six Utes were either first- or second-team selections.

Utah defensive back Eric Weddle was named MWC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, while BYU quarterback John Beck was a unanimous choice for the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year award. New Mexico placekicker Kenny Byrd and Utah placekicker/punter Louie Sakoda share the inaugural MWC Special Teams Player of the Year award. Wide receiver Ryan Wolfe of UNLV was honored as MWC Freshman of the Year, while Bronco Mendenhall of BYU is the MWC Coach of the Year.

Weddle was a unanimous first-team all-MWC selection. He was joined on the all-MWC defense by senior defensive tackle Kelly Talavou. Utah's lone offensive player on the first team was senior left tackle Tavo Tupola.

Utes honored on the second team were sophomore wide receiver Brent Casteel, junior linebacker Joe Jiannoni and senior defensive tackle Paul Soliai. The Utes had eight honorable mention selections. They were senior offensive lineman Jason Boone, junior defensive end Martail Burnett, sophomore offensive lineman Robert Conley, senior defensive back Casey Evans, sophomore kick returner Brice McCain, junior wide receiver Derrek Richards, Sakoda and junior defensive back Steve Tate.

The following is a look at the MWC Award Winners:

Defensive Player of the Year - Eric Weddle, Senior, DB, Utah

*Weddle is the second player in league history to win back-to-back MWC Defensive Player of the Year honors (Kirk Morrison, LB, San Diego State - 2003-04). *Ranks first in the MWC and 10th in the nation in interceptions per game (.50-6 INT). *Recorded 58 total tackles on the season. *The third player from Utah to be named MWC Defensive Player of the Year (John Frank-1999/Morgan Scalley -2004-co-player), but the first to win the award in consecutive years.

Co-Special Teams Player of the Year - Louie Sakoda, Soph., PK/P, Utah

*Sakoda is a three-time MWC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2006. Averaged 43.9 yards per punt to rank second in the MWC and 13th in the nation. *Has pinned teams inside their 20 on 28 of his 56 total punts (50%). *Recorded 13 punts that went 50 yards or longer. *Is one of two players in the MWC to record a perfect PAT percentage of 1.000, making all 42 attempts. His 42 made PATS leads the Conference. *Has made 12-of-16 field goals 11-of-12 on field goals under 40 yards.

Offensive Player of the Year - John Beck, Senior, QB, BYU

*Beck is BYU's second MWC Offensive Player of the Year (Luke Staley-2001) *Beck is the sixth quarterback since the inception of the MWC to be named offensive player of the year. *Leads the MWC and ranks second nationally in passing efficiency (173.3) and completion percentage (70.4). *Leads the MWC and ranks fourth nationally, averaging 319.1 yards passing per game. *Leads the MWC and ranks fourth nationally, averaging 316.0 yards of total offense per game. *Leads the MWC and ranks fifth nationally with 30 touchdown completions on the season. *Named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week a league-record seven times during the 2006 season.

Co-Special Teams Player of the Year - Kenny Byrd, Senior, PK, New Mexico

*Byrd is a three-time MWC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2006. *Leads the league and is tied for second on the New Mexico single season list with 18 field goals (18-22) this fall, including a long of 52. *Is one of two players in the MWC to record a perfect PAT percentage of 1.000, making all 30 attempts. *Has six multiple field goal games in 2006, including two game-winners on the road at UNLV and at Colorado State.

Freshman of the Year - Ryan Wolfe, WR, UNLV

* Wolfe is the fourth freshman of the year honoree in UNLV history and second since the inception of the MWC in 1999. Running Back Dominique Dorsey earned the award in 2001. *Leads MWC and ranks 23rd in nation with 75.9 receiving yards per game. *Is also the second-leading freshman receiver in nation in both receptions (55) and yards (911). *Top freshman receiver in both MWC and UNLV history. *Tied MWC freshman record for receiving yards in a game with 176 on career-best nine catches vs. New Mexico. *Broke the UNLV freshman records for most receptions in a season, most receptions in a game, most receiving yards in a game, most receptions in a game, receptions per game in a season, receiving yards per game in a season.

Coach of the Year - Bronco Mendenhall, BYU

*Selected as conference coach of the year for the first time in his career after leading BYU to a 10-2 overall record and a perfect 8-0 mark in MWC play. *Second BYU coach to win the MWC Coach of the Year honor. Gary Crowton won the award in 2001. *Named AFCA Region 5 Coach of the Year.

-UU-

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