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Murray's All-Mountain West football ballot

Brett Rypien
Brett Rypien is a leader for Mountain West offensive player of the year.

The Mountain West will release its all-conference honors Wednesday and as one of the voters on the media panel, I always release my picks publicly for transparency. Each MW team nominates a list of players and we select out all-conference picks from those nominations. All-conference nominations are based on statistics from all regular-season games and we are asked to consider stats from the 2018 season only. Career stats should not influence our votes. Here is how my ballot broke down.

Offensive player of the year

Brett Rypien, Boise State: This pick came down to the last regular-season game of the year as Boise State battled Utah State for the MW's Mountain Division title. Rypien and Utah State quarterback Jordan Love were equally stellar this year. Rypien accounted for 3,586 yards and 29 TDs with a 160.7 passer rating; Love accounted for 3,268 yards and 34 TDs with a 159.9 passer rating. Tie goes to the guy who won the crown.

Defensive player of the year

Malik Reed, Nevada: Another close call here, but Reed has wreaked havoc for a vastly improved Wolf Pack defense. The senior led the MW in tackles for loss (15.5) and forced fumbles (four), was fourth in sacks (eight) and fifth in fumble recoveries (two), all while playing a new position. He had 72 tackles as an outside linebacker and was a key behind Nevada cutting its points allowed per game from 33.9 to 28.1 and its yards allowed per game from 471.3 to 378.3.

Special teams player of the year

John Barron II, San Diego State: Barron was named the MW special teams player of the week five times this season, so it'd be impossible to not give him this award. The senior kicker was perfect on extra points and nailed 17-of-22 on field goals, including 5-of-5 on kicks of 50-plus yards. He also hit three game-winning field goals with less than five minutes to play.

Freshman of the year

Toa Taua, Nevada: This was a fairly thin crop, with Taua being the obvious choice. He rushed for 816 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns and added 20 catches for 194 yards and a score.

Coach of the year

Matt Wells, Utah State: You could go with Boise State's Bryan Harsin and I wouldn't quibble, but the Broncos were the unanimous preseason pick to win the Mountain Division. Utah State was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain Division and spent much of the season in the Top 25 while finishing 10-2, the lone losses being at Boise State and at Michigan State. Hard not to vote for that.

All-MW teams

Quarterback

First team: Brett Rypien, Boise State

Second team: Jordan Love, Utah State

Running back

First team: Alexander Mattison, Boise State; Nico Evans, Wyoming

Second team: Darwin Thompson, Utah State; Lexington Thomas, UNLV

Wide receiver

First team: John Ursua, Hawaii; KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State

Second team: Preston Williams, Colorado State; Sean Modster, Boise State

Tight end

First team: Josh Oliver, San Jose State

Second team: Jared Rice, Fresno State

Offensive line

First team: Quin Ficklin, Utah State; John Molchon, Boise State; Aaron Jenkins, New Mexico; Ezra Cleveland, Boise State; Micah St. Andrew, Fresno State

Second team: Keith Ismael, San Diego State; Roman Andrus, Utah State; Sean Krepsz, Nevada; Christian Cronk, Fresno State; Jake Nelson, Nevada

Defensive line

First team: Curtis Weaver, Boise State; Korey Rush, Nevada; Mykal Walker, Fresno State; Jabril Frazier, Boise State

Second team: Jordan Jackson, Air Force; Carl Granderson, Wyoming; Kaimana Padello, Hawaii; Bryson Bridges, San Jose State

Linebacker

First team: Malik Reed, Nevada; Tipa Galeai, Utah State; Jeff Allison, Fresno State

Second team: Josh Watson, Colorado State; David Woodward, Utah State, Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State

Defensive back

First team: Andrew Wingard, Wyoming; Tank Kelly, Fresno State; Tariq Thompson, San Diego State; Dakari Monroe, San Jose State

Second team: Asauni Rufus, Nevada; Tyler Horton, Boise State; Kekoa Nawahine, Boise State; Mike Bell, Fresno State

Kicker

First team: John Baron II, San Diego State

Second team: Dominik Eberle, Utah State

Punter

First team: Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State

Second team: Quinton Conaway, Nevada

Return specialist

First team: Savon Scarver, Utah State

Second team: Marcus Hayes, New Mexico

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