FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno State junior linebacker Jeff Allison was named the 2018 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday morning. In addition to the defensive player of the year award, Fresno State tallied four first-team, six second-team and four honorable mention All-Mountain West selections.
The four Bulldogs named to the All-MW first-team were senior offensive lineman Christian Cronk, senior defensive back Anthoula Kelly, junior defensive end Mykal Walker, as well as Allison.
The six All-MW second-team selections were junior defensive back Mike Bell, junior punter Blake Cusick, junior defensive back Juju Hughes, senior wide receiver Keesean Johnson, junior tight end Jared Rice and senior offensive lineman Micah St. Andrew.
Fresno State tabbed additional honors with junior defensive back Jaron Bryant, junior defensive lineman Jasad Haynes, senior linebacker George Helmuth and senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion all being named All-MW honorable mention.
The 2018 All-Mountain West teams were voted upon by the league’s 12 head coaches and media members covering the league institutions.
A look at the first-team…
Allison led the Bulldogs with 109 tackles this season (59 solo) at a clip of 9.10 tackles per game. He was fourth in the conference in total tackles. He posted a career-high 17 tackles against Nevada on Oct. 6, led the team in tackles eight times during the season and tallied five games with double-digit tackle outputs.
The Miami, Florida native had two interceptions this season, both coming in the third quarter against UCLA to help lead the Bulldogs to a 38-14 win over the Bruins. Allison recorded a tackle for loss in seven games and also logged three quarterback hurries. He is the second Bulldog to earn MW Defensive Player of the Year honors dating back to 2012 when consensus All-American Phillip Thomas took home the award. This is Allison’s second career All-MW honor, after being named a first team selection in 2017.
Also on the first-team, Cronk, a left tackle, helped keep five opponents without a sack this season and was a key part of the offensive line that did not allow a quarterback hurry in seven games. The offensive line ranks seventh in the FBS in sacks allowed (0.83/ game) and fifth in tackles for loss allowed (3.75/ game). This is Cronk’s second career All-MW honor, after being named an honorable mention selection in 2017.
Walker, a defensive end, led the Bulldogs’ defensive line with 67 (33 solo) tackles and ranked second in the league in tackles per game among all linemen with 5.6 per game. He recorded a season-high nine tackles twice (Minnesota, Hawai’i) and led the team in tackles twice (Hawai’i, San Jose State). Walker led the ‘Dogs with 11.0 tackles for loss (for 25 yards) and had a season-high 3.5 TFLs in the 50-20 victory over Hawai’i. Walker also recorded 3.0 sacks, one interception (returned 38 yards for a touchdown), five pass breakups, five quarterback hurries, recovered one fumble and forced two fumbles during the regular season. Walker was named MW Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 1.
Kelly, a defensive back, registered 20 passes defended in 12 regular season games, which ranks tied for the second-most in the FBS and is the most by a Bulldog since Steve Wilson recorded 21 in 1995. The Houston native tied for a team-best three interceptions and returned one of the three 39 yards for a touchdown in the Fresno State’s 79-13 win over Idaho. As a crucial part of the secondary, he had 48 tackles (38 solo), one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
A look at the second-team…
For second-team, Johnson who became the program’s leader in both career receptions and career receiving yards, recorded 87 receptions for 1,267 yards and scored eight touchdowns, leading the Bulldogs in all-three categories. The 87 receptions rank eighth-most in the FBS and the 1,267 yards rank seventh-most in the FBS. Johnson averaged 102.6 receiving yards per game and 14.6 yards per reception, second-best in the MW.
Johnson had six 100-yard games this season (Idaho, Toledo, New Mexico, Hawai’i, San Diego State, San Jose State), second-most in the MW. He had a career-high 173 yards in the win over San Jose State and notched a career-high 10 receptions one week prior to help clinch the West Division title for Fresno State over San Diego State. The senior leads the FBS in active career receptions (267) and consecutive games with a pass reception (48). This is Johnson’s third career All-MW honor, after being named a second team selection in 2017 and honorable mention selection in 2016.
Rice, a tight end, was second on the team with 46 receptions for 580 yards and three touchdowns. He had a career-high seven receptions for 94 yard and one touchdown in the 27-3 win over Wyoming. In the regular-season finale, Rice passed Bear Pascoe for the most receptions and yards by a tight end in a single season at Fresno State.
St. Andrew, the Bulldogs’ primary right guard after starting the season at center, helped keep five opponents without a sack this season and was a key part of the offensive line that didn’t allow a quarterback hurry in seven games. The offensive line ranks seventh in the FBS in sacks allowed (0.83/ game) and fifth in tackles for loss allowed (3.75/ game). This is St. Andrew’s second career All-MW honor, after being named an honorable mention selection in 2017.
Hughes, a defensive back, finished the regular season with three interceptions for a total of 64 yards, with all three picks came during conference play (Nevada, Hawai’i, Boise State). The three interceptions is tied for the third-most in the MW. As a key member of the secondary, Hughes logged 64 tackles (33 solo) and led the team in tackles twice (UNLV, SDSU). He recorded a career-high 11 tackles in the Bulldogs’ 48-3 win over UNLV. He also had seven pass breakups on the season. This is Hughes’ second career All-MW honor, after being named an honorable mention selection in 2017.
Bell, also a defensive back, finished the regular season with three interceptions, alike Hughes, all three came during conference play (Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico) in consecutive games. His three interceptions is tied for the third-most in the MW with Kelly and Hughes. As a key member of the secondary, Bell recorded 67 tackles (38 solo) and had 3.0 tackles for loss. He had a career-high 11 tackles against Minnesota. He also had seven pass breakups on the season. This is Bell’s second career All-MW honor, after being named an honorable mention selection in 2017.
Cusick, a punter, placed 51.9 percent of his punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line this season (28-of-54) and finished the season with an average of 42.2 yards per punt. Cusick landed 28 punts inside the 20-yard line and 11 inside the 10-yard line. Only eight of his punts have been returned this season for a total of 25 yards. He logged 12 punts that were 50 yards or more, and kicked a career-long 72-yard punt in the 21-3 win over Nevada.
Fresno State Media Services