BOISE, Idaho – Thirteen members of the Boise State football team earned All-Mountain West recognition Tuesday, highlighted by six first-team selections in addition to quarterback Brett Rypien being named Freshman of the Year.
Rypien, who was also named first-team all-Mountain West, is the second Boise State student-athlete to earn top freshman honors from a conference, joining former Bronco signal-caller Kellen Moore, who was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2008.
He is joined on the All-Mountain West First Team by wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, offensive linemen Marcus Henry and Rees Odhiambo, placekicker Tyler Rausa and safety Darian Thompson. For Henry and Thompson, the announcement marked the second year in a row that each was named to the conference’s first team.
Running back Jeremy McNichols, tight end Jake Roh, STUD end Kamalei Correa and cornerback Donte Deayon each earned second-team honors, while offensive lineman Mario Yakoo, defensive end Tyler Horn and linebacker Tanner Vallejo were each named honorable mention.
Thompson’s second-straight first-team selection came on the strength of a 2015 campaign with a team-high five interceptions (third-most in the Mountain West), 63 tackles (second-most on the team) and 7.5 tackles-for-loss (third on the team). A Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist this season, Thompson is the defensive team captain for a Bronco unit that ranks 24th nationally in total defense (342.1 yards per game) and fifth nationally in turnovers forced (28). The Bronco secondary is also ranked second nationally in interceptions (22).
Thompson made Mountain West history Oct. 31 at UNLV, making the 19th interception of his career to become the Mountain West’s all-time leader, passing Eric Weddle’s mark of 18.
Rypien made his collegiate debut in relief Sept. 18 against Idaho State and took over starting quarterback duties the following week at Virginia. The freshman from Spokane, Wash., threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in that first start, sparking a run which has him atop the Mountain West in passing yards (2,973), passing yards per game (297.3), total offense (2,913 yards), completions (243) and attempts (389), in addition to third with 17 touchdown passes and a 62.5 completion percentage.
He is the only Mountain West quarterback with 400- and 500-yard passing performances in 2015, along with a conference-best four games with at least 300 passing yards. Rypien also owns the conference’s top single-game totals this season in the following categories: passing yards (506 yards vs. New Mexico on Nov. 14), attempts (75 vs. New Mexico on Nov. 14), and completions (41 vs. New Mexico on Nov. 14), with the latter two each being Boise State single-game records.
One of Rypien’s top targets in the passing attack, Sperbeck earned his first-career nod to the All-MW First Team thanks to a record-breaking season. Sperbeck leads the Mountain West in receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,334), and shares the conference lead with eight touchdowns receptions. His total of 1,334 receiving yards is a Boise State season record, as he eclipsed Titus Young’s 2010 mark of 1,210 yards Nov. 20 against Force, and he sits just six catches back of Matt Miller’s 2013 school record of 88 receptions.
Sperbeck owns the top FBS single-game performances of 2015 in receptions and receiving yards, catching 20 balls for 281 yards against New Mexico on Nov. 14. Through Nov. 28 he is tied for the conference lead with five 100-yard receiving games and is the only Mountain West WR with multiple games of 150 yards receiving (four).
Henry, now a two-time first-team pick at center, and Odhiambo, Boise State’s left tackle who earned his first selection to the first team after earning a second-team nod in 2014, help anchor the offensive line of the top-scoring offense in the Mountain West and 16th-best in the nation (37.8 ppg). The duo provides strong combined pass and run-blocking, as Boise State leads the Mountain West in total offense (488.8 yards per game) and passing offense (304.3 yards per game) while ranking 20th and 16th, respectively, in the nation in those categories.
Henry and Odhiambo are part of a Bronco line that has opened holes for Boise State’s seventh-straight 1,000-yard rusher and the conference’s leading scorer in running back Jeremy McNichols, who has covered 1,244 yards on the ground and scored a national-best 23 touchdowns.
Rounding out Boise State’s first-team selections is Rausa, who in his first season as Boise State’s No. 1 kicker has put together one of the finest performances by a Bronco kicker in 2015, ranking tied for second in the FBS with 23 field goals and 11th with 121 points. His total of 121 points, which leads all Mountain West kickers and is third in the country amongst kickers, leaves him just one behind the Mountain West season record by a kicker (122) held by Utah’s Louie Sakoda.
A Lou Groza Award semifinalist, Rausa’s 23 field goals this year are just one back of the school record of 24 set by Tyler Jones in 2004, and his 82.1 field-goal percentage (23-for-28) ranks second in the Mountain West.
McNichols earned the first All-MW nod of his career with Tuesday’s second-team announcement. The sophomore running back leads the FBS with 23 touchdowns and is tied for fourth with 18 of those scores coming on the ground, and his 1,244 rushing yards rank fourth in the Mountain West.
He ranks fourth in the Mountain West in all-purpose yardage (1,697) and adds depth to the claim as the conference’s top all-around offensive player by leading all Mountain West running backs in receptions (46), receiving yards (364) and receiving touchdowns (five).
Heading into bowl season, McNichols is on a run of 11-straight games with a rushing touchdown, the Mountain West record, while he is tied for second with seven 100-yard rushing performances this year, with those coming in each of his last seven games.
Roh earned his second-team nod a year after being named honorable mention. This season, the Bronco tight end has continued to be a solid pass-catching threat in the passing attack, hauling in 29 catches for 319 yards and a touchdown. Only San José State’s Billy Freeman, the conference’s first-team pick at tight end, had more catches from the position than Roh in the Mountain West this season.
Correa, named to the All-Mountain West First Team a year ago, started each of the Broncos’ 12 games at STUD end in 2015. He registered 35 tackles (20 solo) on the season and leads the Broncos in sacks (5.0) and tackles-for-loss (8.5) while sharing the lead with a pair of forced fumbles.
He is part of a defensive unit that ranks 24th nationally in total defense (342.1 yards per game) and fifth nationally in turnovers forced (28), and part of a defensive line that has helped the Broncos rank 14th nationally in rush defense (117.7 rushing yards allowed per game).
Deayon earned second-team honors for the third year in a row, recording 35 tackles (24 solo) and four interceptions in 2015 despite missing three games due to injury. One of the Broncos’ corners, Deayon is second on the team with seven pass breakups and has even come forward to make 3.0 tackles-for-loss.
His four interceptions contribute to a defensive backfield that ranks second nationally in interceptions (22) and fifth nationally in turnovers forced (28).
Vallejo’s honorable mention is the second All-MW nod of his career, as he was named to the Second Team a year ago. This season, he has started 10 games and missed a pair to injury, ranking third on the team with 57 tackles (32 solo), second in tackles-for-loss (8.0) and sharing the team lead with two fumbles forced.
He has made a mark on special teams in 2015, blocking two kicks, each of which came Sept. 18 against Idaho State, to earn MW Special Teams Player of the Week honors (Sept. 21). Vallejo is one of only 21 players nationally to block multiple kicks this season.
Tuesday’s honorable-mention accolades for Horn and Weaver were the first of each man’s respective career. Horn, who has started each of Boise State’s 12 games on the defensive line in 2015 after missing all but one game to injury last season, has 39 tackles (15 solo). That figure leads all Boise State defensive linemen, while he adds 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles-for-loss to a unit that ranks 14th nationally in rush defense (117.7 rushing yards allowed per game).
Horn has also displayed a nose for the ball, leading the Broncos with a pair of fumble recoveries as well as picking off a pass and returning it 45 yards against Wyoming (Oct. 24).
Weaver has also started all 12 games this season, leading the Broncos with 66 tackles (32 solo) and sharing the team lead of two fumble recoveries with Horn. He also ranks third on the team with three interceptions, with each of those picks coming in each of the past three contests.
Firmly entrenched in the Boise State linebacker corps, Weaver is part of a unit that ranks 24th nationally in total defense (342.1 yards per game), fifth nationally in turnovers forced (28) and 14th nationally against the run (117.7 rushing yards allowed per game).
Boise State (8-4, 5-3 MW) awaits its bowl destination this weekend. The Broncos are bowl-eligible for the 18th-straight season and will be going to a bowl game in 2015 for the 14th-straight year.