June 1, 2018
BOISE, Idaho - Athlon Sports released its 2018 Preseason All-Mountain West Teams earlier this week, with 15 Broncos earning 16 spots, including eight being named to the First Team.
Quarterback Brett Rypien, running back Alexander Mattison, and offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland represented the Boise State offense on the First Team, while four members of the defense, cornerback Tyler Horton, defensive tackle David Moa, safety Kekoa Nawahine, and STUD Curtis Weaver, earned first-team honors, with CB/KR/PR Avery Williams being named a first-team specialist.
Earning spots on the Second Team were wide receiver A.J. Richardson on offense, with the quartet of STUD Jabril Frazier, linebacker Tyson Maeva, defensive end Durrant Miles, and Williams representing the defense. Offensive lineman John Molchon and nose tackle Sonatane Lui were each named to the Third Team, with safety DeAndre Pierce claiming a spot on the Fourth Team.
Rypien earned his third-straight All-MW nod in 2017, being named to the Second Team. After a slow start to the campaign, which included an injury that knocked him out of Sept. 9's game at Washington State and forced him to miss the Sept. 14 game against New Mexico, Rypien has found his groove during Boise State's final seven games. Over that stretch, Rypien has completed 162-of-256 passes (63.3 percent) for 2,231 yards and 15 touchdowns, bringing his 2017 totals to 2,877 passing yards and 16 touchdowns along with a 62.6 completion percentage.
Mattison confidently picked up the mantle of Boise State's No. 1 back last season, rushing for 1,086 yards to mark the ninth-straight campaign in which a Bronco hit the 1,000-yard mark. The San Bernardino, Calif., native ran for 12 touchdowns in 2017 and produced four 100-yard games, including a career day of 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and a Boise State single-game record of 286 yards from scrimmage (242 rushing, 44 receiving), in Nov. 11's 59-52 overtime win at Colorado State. He has also made an impact in the receiving game, making 28 catches for 284 yards and a score as he was named All-Mountain West Honorable Mention.
Cleveland started all 14 games on the line for the Broncos in 2017, being named All-Mountain West Honorable Mention. The Spanaway, Wash., native was key in Boise State's line protecting the Mountain West's No. 2 scoring offense (32.5 ppg).
Emerging as a leader in his position group in 2017 was Horton, Boise State's top coverage man. Consistently drawing the assignment of covering the opposition's top receiver, Horton stepped up to the challenge, being named to the All-Mountain West First Team as he picked off two passes and led the Broncos with 11 pass-breakups. He also proved his value as a tackler, ranking fifth on the team with 44 tackles (26 solo), including 3.0 tackles-for-loss.
Horton also showed a nose for the football, as in addition to his two interceptions, he has recovered two fumbles, with one clinching Boise State's 59-52 overtime win at Colorado State on Nov. 11, and the second being returned 21 yards for a touchdown Nov. 18 against Air Force.
Moa was a force in the Bronco run defense despite commanding double-teams from numerous opponents. While his presence helped open up rush opportunities for Weaver, Frazier and Miles, Moa managed to get his, as well, recording 2.0 sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss among his 21 tackles. He was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team for his efforts.
Nawahine built off of the promise of the strong finish to his freshman season in 2016, being named to the All-Mountain West Second Team as a sophomore. Nawahine hit the century mark with 108 tackles, teaming with Leighton Vander Esch to become the first pair of Broncos to each hit the 100-tackle mark in a season since 2005. Nawahine, a Meridian native, was also a force in the defense's ball-hawking ways, sharing with Vander Esch the Bronco lead in interceptions (three) while also picking up a fumble.
Weaver made his case as one of Boise State's breakout stars of 2017, constantly harassing opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines. The redshirt freshman, named to a pair of Freshman All-America Teams (FWAA, USA TODAY), a fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele and honorable mention by SB Nation, as well as to the All-Mountain West First Team, led the Mountain West lead with 11.0 sacks and led the Broncos with 13.0 tackles-for-loss.
Along with being a key part of Boise State's defense, Weaver made his impact in the turnover game, picking off a pass against Nevada (Nov. 4), and being named a Piesman Trophy finalist for his 55-yard fumble return for a touchdown at Washington State (Sept. 9).
Williams, named to the All-Mountain West Second Team and Boise State's first returner honored by the conference since Shane Williams-Rhodes earned honorable mention in 2013, electrified Bronco special teams in 2017. The redshirt freshman, who also doubles as a cornerback on defense, made a splashy debut Sept. 2 against Troy, returning a punt 81 yards for the game-opening touchdown on the first touch of his career, and finished the game with 124 yards over five returns.
Williams led the Mountain West with 11.2 yards per punt return, and his two punt-return touchdowns (the second came Oct. 14 at San Diego State) ranked second in the nation. He also averaged 24.7 yards over 15 kickoff returns.
On defense, Williams started 10 games at cornerback, intercepting two passes, breaking up eight, and making 45 tackles.
Richardson, in his first year as a full-time starting wide receiver for the Broncos, hauled in 33 passes for 494 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yard scoring grab against Air Force on Nov. 18. That contest against Air Force marked Richardson's first 100-yard receiving performance, as he went for 123 yards, en route to finishing third on the team in receptions and second in receiving yards.
Frazier ranked second on the team in sacks (6.0) and third in tackles-for-loss (6.5), while making 33 tackles (25 solo) on the year. Named to the All-Mountain West Second Team, he also forced two fumbles on sacks, with each being returned for a touchdown (Weaver at Washington State, Horton against Air Force).
Maeva, who like Nawahine finished his 2016 freshman campaign in the starting lineup, ranked third on the team with 84 tackles (43 solo), in addition to a sack, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and three pass breakups. He finished the season being named All-Mountain West Honorable Mention.
Miles, on the front line with Weaver, Frazier, and Moa, led the group with 33 tackles (14 solo), which included 2.0 sacks and 6.0 tackles-for-loss, a figure that ranked fourth on the team. An All-Mountain West Honorable Mention in 2017, he also was a factor in the takeaway game, making an interception in addition to forcing a pair of fumbles.
Lui wrapped up his 2017 season as a key part of the Bronco run defense which finished the season ranked 17th at 120.2 yards allowed per game. Plugging the middle at nose tackle, Lui made 2.5 tackles-for-loss among his 18 total tackles, and recovered a pair of fumbles.
Molchon, an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention in 2017, appeared in all 14 games, making 13 starts. A first-time starter, Molchon contributed to Mattison's 1,000-yard season, as well as to clearing the way for an offense that ranked second in the Mountain West with 32.5 points per game.
Pierce, another member of Boise State's fast, hard-hitting rising junior class, teamed with Nawahine in the secondary to both stop the run and defend the pass. The Long Beach, Calif., native ranked fourth on the team with 83 tackles (52 solo), with 4.0 of those going for loss, and picked off a pass as he was named an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention.
Boise State, which finished the 2017 campaign 11-3 and ranked 22nd in both national polls in addition to capturing its third Mountain West title, opens the 2018 season Sept. 1 at Troy.