Nevada Wolf Pack’s Carson Strong named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year
The Nevada football team placed a school-record 15 players on the 2020 All-Mountain West team, led by sophomore quarterback Carson Strong earning Offensive Player of the Year honors, the conference announced Tuesday.
Strong is the first sophomore to win the league’s top offensive honor. He is the second Wolf Pack player to take home one of the Mountain West’s top “Of The Year” awards in school history, joining Toa Taua, who was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2018.
Joining Strong on the All-Mountain West first team were junior wide receiver Romeo Doubs, junior tight end Cole Turner and sophomore place kicker Brandon Talton.
Nevada had six second-team honorees. Offensively, junior running back Toa Taua and junior offensive lineman Aaron Frost were both honored. Defensively, junior tackle Dom Peterson and senior linemen Sam Hammond got the nod, along with senior linebacker Lawson Hall.
Doubs was named to the second team as a punt returner as well.
Three offensive linemen were among Nevada’s six players receiving Honorable Mention in true freshman tackle Jacob Gardner, senior center Tyler Orsini and senior guard Jermaine Ledbetter.
Punter Julian Diaz was also honored, along with defensive backs Tyson Williams and BerDale Robins.
Nevada’s 15 overall honorees is the most since the Pack joined the league in 2012. The four first-team honorees ties the program record set in 2012.
San Jose State lineman Cade Hall took home the Defensive Player of the Year honors with Boise State’s Avery Williams earning Special Teams Player of the Year. UNLV WR Kyle Williams was named the top freshman and San Jose State’s Brent Brennan was named the top coach.
Doubs, Peterson, Talton and Taua have previously been honored in the conference postseason awards.
Strong, a sophomore from Vacaville, Calif., completed 227-of-327 for 2,587 yards with 22 touchdowns against just four interceptions in eight games this year. He led the Mountain West in completions, completion percentage, touchdowns, passing yards and points responsible for. He was second in the MW in yards per game, passing efficiency and total offense.
Doubs emerged this year as the premier wideout in the league as the junior from Los Angeles caught 53 passes for 960 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the league in receptions, receptions per game, yards, yards per game and receiving touchdowns.
After converting from receiver, Turner took the conference by storm at the tight end position. He debuted in 2020 by shattering his career marks with seven catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the opening overtime win over Wyoming. He finished the year with 44 catches for 545 yards and seven touchdowns. His 44 catches are the second-most by a tight end nationally this season. Amongst all pass-catchers in the conference, he ranked in the top 10 in both receptions and receiving yards, and his seven receiving touchdowns were second only to Doubs.
Talton backed up an impressive freshman campaign with a scintillating sophomore season. The former walk-on led the conference in total points scored as he was 15-of-17 on field goal attempts and connected on 26-of-27 extra points.
Hammond, a former walk-on from Yerington, continued his arc to a dominating force on the defensive front as a senior this season. He led the team, and was ninth in the Mountain West, with 7.5 tackles for loss, and was second the team in sacks with 4.0 in eight games this year. Overall, he recorded 32 tackles (fourth on the team) and broke up a pair of passes.
Peterson earned his second-straight All-MW honor – he was a first-team pick a year ago – despite suffering an ankle injury in the sixth game of the year. He was in the top 10 in the conference in sacks with a team-leading 4.5 on the year. He also recorded 7.0 tackles for loss as part of 27 overall tackles on the year.
Hall, a team captain, led a Wolf Pack defensive resurgence this season from his middle linebacker spot. He led the team, and was in the top 15 overall in the MW, in total tackles with 56 on the year. He recorded 6.5 tackles for loss, including a sack. This is his first career All-MW honor.
Doubs snagged his third career All-MW honor (he was Honorable Mention in 2019) by earning second team honors as a punt returner. The junior had 10 returners for 100 yards on the year and his average of 10.0 yards per return ranked second in the conference. He led the league in all-purpose yards for the season.
Taua, a junior, earned his third-straight All-MW honor after being named Freshman of the Year in 2018 and earning Honorable Mention last year. He led the team with 573 rushing yards – 81.8 per game – and also caught 25 passes for 137 yards. He was second in the conference in total rushing yards and his average of 6.1 yards per carry led the league, and is 25th nationally.
Frost, a junior, was the most dominant force on the Pack’s offensive line as the Union had a strong season overall. The physical right tackle led the team in pancake blocks and knock-down blocks, and yielded just two sacks on the season.
Diaz missed two games and part of another this season and as a result, the senior has only averaged 3.5 punts per game, just shy of the 3.6 required by the NCAA and MW to qualify for statistical ranking. His average of 47.7 yards per punt would be second in the nation overall and would lead the Mountain West by more than two yards per punt.
Robins had an impressive campaign at cornerback in 2020. He broke up five passes, which was tied for second overall in the Mountain West and his six passes defended ranked third in the conference. He recorded one interception and a fumble recovery on the year.
Williams was second on the team with 53 tackles on the year and he led the team with a pair of interceptions.
Along with Frost, Gardner, Ledbetter and Orsini led a resurgence of the Wolf Pack offensive line in 2020. The group paved the way for one of the top offenses on the West Coast.
Nevada’s season continues on Dec. 22 when the Wolf Pack takes on Tulane in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Albertson’s Stadium in Boise.
2020 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL FIRST TEAM
QB – Carson Strong, So., Nevada
WR – Khalil Shakir, Jr., Boise State
WR – Romeo Doubs, Jr., Nevada
WR – Bailey Gaither, Sr., San José State
RB – Ronnie Rivers, Sr., Fresno State
RB – Xazavian Valladay*, Jr., Wyoming
TE – Cole Turner, Jr., Nevada
OL – Parker Ferguson, Sr., Air Force
OL – Nolan Laufenberg*, Sr., Air Force
OL – Kyle Spalding, Sr., San Diego State
OL – Jack Snyder, Sr., San José State
OL – Keegan Cryder, Jr., Wyoming
PK – Brandon Talton, So., Nevada
KR – Avery Williams, Sr., Boise State
DL – Scott Patchan, Sr., Colorado State
DL – Cameron Thomas*, So., San Diego State
DL – Cade Hall, Jr., San José State
DL – Viliami Fehoko, So., San José State
LB – Darius Muasau, So., Hawai‘i
LB – Caden McDonald, Jr., San Diego State
LB – Kyle Harmon, Jr., San José State
LB – Chad Muma, Jr., Wyoming
DB – Avery Williams, Sr., Boise State
DB – Jerrick Reed, Jr., New Mexico
DB – Darren Hall, Jr., San Diego State
DB – Tariq Thompson, Sr., San Diego State
P – Ryan Stonehouse**, Sr., Colorado State
PR – Avery Williams*, Sr., Boise State
*Two-Time First-Team Selection | **Three-Time First-Team Selection
2020 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL SECOND TEAM
QB – Nick Starkel, Sr., San José State
WR – Dante Wright, So., Colorado State
WR – Calvin Turner, Sr., Hawai‘i
WR – Tre Walker, Sr., San José State
RB – Toa Taua, Jr., Nevada
RB – Greg Bell, Sr., San Diego State
TE – Trey McBride, Jr., Colorado State
OL – John Ojukwu, Jr., Boise State
OL – Jake Stetz, Sr., Boise State
OL – Syrus Tuitele, Sr., Fresno State
OL – Aaron Frost, Jr., Nevada
OL – Zachary Thomas, Sr., San Diego State
PK – John Hoyland, Fr., Wyoming
KR – Jordan Byrd, Jr., San Diego State
DL – Shane Irwin, Jr., Boise State
DL – David Perales, Jr., Fresno State
DL – Dom Peterson, Jr., Nevada
DL – Sam Hammond, Sr., Nevada
LB – Riley Whimpey*, Sr., Boise State
LB – Dequan Jackson, Jr., Colorado State
LB – Lawson Hall, Sr., Nevada
LB – Brandon Shook, Sr., New Mexico
DB – Kekaula Kaniho, Sr., Boise State
DB – Jalen Walker*, Sr., Boise State
DB – Cortez Davis, Sr., Hawai‘i
DB – Tre Jenkins, So., San José State
P – Tanner Kuljian, Sr., San Diego State
PR – Romeo Doubs, Jr., Nevada
*Two-Time Second-Team Selection | ** Three-Time Second-Team Selection
2020 HONORABLE MENTION
Air Force: Kyle Krepsz, OL; Brad Roberts, RB; George Silvanic, DL
Boise State: John Bates, TE; Garrett Curran, OL; Jonah Dalmas, PK; Scott Matlock, DL; Ezekiel Noa, LB; CT Thomas, WR; Andrew Van Buren, RB
Colorado State: Elijah Johnson, OL; Manny Jones, DL; Toby McBride, DL; Thomas Pannunzio, KR; Cam Reddy, OL; Barry Wesley, OL; Dante Wright, PR
Fresno State: Kevin Atkins, DL; Levelle Bailey, LB; Jalen Cropper, WR; Jake Haener, QB; Kwami Jones, DL; Keric Wheatfall, WR; Evan Williams, DB
Hawai‘i: Chevan Cordeiro, QB; Quentin Frazier, DB; Jared Smart, WR; Blessman Ta’ala, DL
Nevada: Julian Diaz, P; Jacob Gardner, OL; Jermaine Ledbetter, OL; Tyler Orsini, OL; BerDale Robins, DB; Tyson Williams, DB
New Mexico: Bobby Cole, RB; Joey Noble, DL; Teton Saltes, OL; Kyle Stapley, OL
San Diego State: Matt Araiza, PK; Keshawn Banks, DL; Daniel Bellinger, TE; Tyler Hawkins, DB; Dwayne Johnson, Jr., DB; Jonah Tavai, DL; Evan Williams, DB
San José State: Derrick Deese, Jr., TE; Matt Mercurio, PK; Tre Webb, DB
UNLV: Jacoby Windmon, DL
Utah State: Demytrick Ali’ifua, OL; Shaq Bond, DB; Nick Heninger, DL; Stephen Kotsanlee, P; Marcus Moore, DL; Savon Scarver, KR; Karter Shaw, OL; AJ Vongphachanh, LB
Wyoming: Esaias Gandy, DB; Logan Harris, OL; Isaiah Neyor, WR