Penny, Kelly among Aztecs honored by Mountain West


Photo by Kelly Smiley

Rashaad Penny is all smiles during the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18 at SDCCU Stadium.

by Zach Engberg, Sports Editor

San Diego State football senior running back Rashaad Penny was named the Mountain West Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year by the conference on Wednesday.

He is the first player in conference history to win two player of the year awards in the same season, and the first special teams player to earn the player of the year honor in three consecutive seasons.

Penny rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns in the regular season, adding three return touchdowns. His 2,027 rushing yards and 2,698 all-purpose yards both lead the FBS.

For his career, Penny has seven kick return touchdowns, tied for the NCAA record.

Penny was also named one of the five finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.

He was one of nine Aztecs named to an All-MW team. Penny and senior cornerback Kameron Kelly each earned first-team honors, while redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Tyler Roemer and Keith Ismael, senior tight end David Wells, junior linebacker Ronley Lakalaka and freshman safety Tariq Thompson were named to the second team.

Thompson was the first freshman to earn conference player of the week honors after his two-interception performance in the season finale win over New Mexico.

Boise State redshirt junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was named the MW Defensive Player of the Year, breaking a streak of two consecutive seasons in which SDSU swept the conference awards.

Donnel Pumphrey and Damontae Kazee took home offensive and defensive player of the year awards in 2015 and 2016.

Senior wide receiver Mikah Holder – who led SDSU with 43 catches and 602 receiving yards – and junior safety Parker Baldwin round out the group as all-conference honorable mentions.