July 26, 2016
LAS VEGAS, Nev. â€" Mountain West Football Media Days in Las Vegas kicked off Tuesday morning with the announcement of the 2016 predicted order of finish, and the Preseason All-Mountain West Team as voted upon by media that covers the conference institutions. Boise State was tabbed to capture the Mountain Division, while the trio of quarterback Brett Rypien, wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck and kicker Tyler Rausa were each selected to the preseason all-conference squad.
In the media standings poll, the Broncos earned 27 of 29 first-place votes and a total of 172 points, topping runner-up Air Force, which earned two first-place votes and 126 points. Utah State (111), Colorado State (95), New Mexico (74) and Wyoming (31) rounded out the Mountain Division poll. San Diego State swept all 29 first-place votes for 174 points to top the West Division ballot.
Rypien, Sperbeck and Rausa followed up their selections to the 2015 All-Mountain West First Team with preseason all-conference honors from the media. For each member of the trio, the honor continued a preseason full of them, as Rypien is a candidate for the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year, Sperbeck is a candidate for the Fred Biletnikoff Award and Rausa is a Lou Groza Award candidate.
Rypien is coming off of a debut 2015 season in which he was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year and to the all-conference first team after leading the loop in passing yards (3,353), total offense (3,276 yards), completions (273) and attempts (429). After making his collegiate debut in Week 3 (Sept. 18) against Idaho State, he started Boise State's final 10 games of 2015 and threw 20 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 63.6, both marks good for second in the Mountain West.
The Bronco signal-caller set the Boise State and Mountain West freshman records with 469 passing yards at UNLV on Oct. 31, and two weeks later bettered that with 506 passing yards while setting the school single-game records for completions (41) and attempts (75). Rypien went on to be named the Poinsettia Bowl Offensive MVP after throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns in Boise State's 55-7 victory over Northern Illinois.
Sperbeck enjoyed a record-breaking season in 2015, matching the Boise State single-season mark with 88 receptions and establishing the standard for receiving yards with 1,412. Both figures led all receivers in the Mountain West, and his eight touchdown grabs were tied for second-most in the conference. Nationally, Sperbeck ranked sixth in receiving yards and 17th in receptions.
The Carmichael, Calif. native set a pair of Boise State single-game records last season, hauling in 20 passes for 281 yards against New Mexico on Nov. 14. Both totals were also the top single-game marks by an FBS receiver in 2015.
Over the past two seasons, Sperbeck has emerged as one of the top go-to wideouts, racking up 139 catches for 2,289 yards since entering the starting lineup in Boise State's sixth game of the 2014 campaign. He capped his 2014 season by being named the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP after catching 12 balls for 199 yards in Boise State's 38-30 victory over No. 10 Arizona.
Rausa was named to the All-Mountain West First Team last season after a record-setting performance. In his first season as Boise State's No. 1 kicker, Rausa set the Mountain West single-season scoring record for kickers with 134 points, eclipsing the previous benchmark of 122 set by Utah's Louie Sakoda in 2008. That point total also ranked second among all players in the Mountain West (behind only teammate Jeremy McNichols) while ranking second-nationally among all kickers and seventh overall among all FBS players.
Rausa went 25-for-30 on field goal attempts last season, with his 25 successes passing Tyler Jones' 2004 total of 24 as the Boise State record. That total led all Mountain West kickers and ranked tied for fourth in the FBS, while his field-goal percentage of 83.3 was 21st in the country.
Boise State opens the 2016 season Sept. 3 at Louisiana, and hosts Washington State Sept. 10 in the campaign's home opener at Albertsons Stadium.