Fajardo named WAC Freshman of the Year
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – The best young football player in the Western Athletic Conference this season belonged to the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo, who passed for 1,647 yards and six touchdowns in nine games, was named the WAC’s Freshman of the Year on Monday. The Wolf Pack also placed four other players on the All-WAC First Team and two on the Second Team.
“That is a neat honor for Cody,” Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault said. “He was very deserving.”
The Wolf Pack’s First Team All-WAC players are wide receiver Rishard Matthews, offensive lineman Chris Barker, defensive lineman Brett Roy and defensive back Isaiah Frey. The Pack’s Second Team players are offensive lineman Jeff Nady and defensive back Duke Williams.
Fajardo, who won five of his seven starts, is the fourth Wolf Pack player to be named Freshman of the Year in the WAC along with Chance Kretschmer (2001), Colin Kaepernick (2007) and Brandon Wimberly (2009). Fajardo, a red-shirt freshman from Servite High in Anaheim, Calif., completed 142-of-199 passes (71.4%). He also rushed for 680 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“You could really see the maturity he made each game,” said Ault, who named Fajardo the starter in the fifth game of the season.
Matthews, an All-WAC Second Team selection in 2010 as a junior, led the conference with 91 receptions for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns. The 91 catches tie him with Bryan Reeves (1993) and Nichiren Flowers (2004) for the eighth most in a season in Pack history. His 1,364 yards are the sixth most in Pack history.
Matthews joins Marko Mitchell (2008), Caleb Spencer (2005), Flowers (2004) and Nate Burleson (2002) as the only Pack wide receivers named to the WAC First Team.
Barker and Nady, a Douglas High graduate, anchored an offensive line that helped the Wolf Pack offense to average 32.9 points and 522.8 yards a game this season. Barker, a guard, and Nady, a tackle, were both juniors this season. The Wolf Pack has now had at least one offensive lineman named to either the All-WAC First or Second Team every year since 2001.
Roy led the WAC in sacks with 10 and in tackles for a loss with 18.5. The senior also had 64 tackles and six passes defensed. He joins Dontay Moch (2009, 2010), Kevin Basped (2008), J.J. Milan (2006), Chris Barry (2004) and Jorge Cordova (2003) as the only Wolf Pack defensive lineman named to the WAC First Team.
“I improved my numbers in every category this year,” said Roy, who had 50 tackles, eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss last year and did not receive All-WAC honors. “I was very proud of that. This is validation for all of the hard work I put in.”
Frey is just the fourth Wolf Pack defensive back to receive All-WAC honors, joining Jonathan Amaya (2009), Joe Garcia (2005, 2006) and Craig Bailey (2005). The senior cornerback had five interceptions, the most by any Pack player since Garcia had six in 2006. He also led the WAC with 18 passes defensed, the most by any Pack player since the school joined the WAC in 2000.
Williams, a Hug High graduate, had 78 tackles and one key interception that helped seal the Pack’s 17-14 victory at San Jose State on Sept. 17. Williams also had seven passes defensed.
Utah State’s Robert Turbin was named the WAC’s Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,416 yards and 19 touchdowns. Louisiana Tech linebacker Adrien Cole was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year after making 121 tackles (13 for a loss) and two sacks. Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes was named Coach of the Year after his Bulldogs won the league’s title.
Louisiana Tech led all teams with seven First Team selections had 11 players honored overall.
Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii are leaving the conference after this season to join the Mountain West Conference.