Utes Place Four on MWC First Team

It’s late-season swoon notwithstanding, the Utah football team saw some recognition come its way Wednesday for finishing the year at 7-4 after being picked to finish just sixth in the Mountain West Conference.

In recognition of the team’s massive turnaround, the MWC All-Conference Team included 18 Utes. Four of those earned First Team honors, another four got named to the Second Team, and 10 were awarded Honorable Mention status.

The stingy Ute defense, ranked first in the MWC and ninth in the nation, saw three of its performers included on the First Team. Junior defensive tackle Garrett Smith, sophomore end Jason Kaufusi and junior linebacker Sheldon Deckart were those honored.

Meanwhile, the U’s lone representative on the First Team offense was senior tackle Doug Kaufusi?Jason’s older brother.

On the Second Team, Utah placed two athletes apiece on the offensive and defensive teams, with senior receiver Cliff Russell and senior halfback Dameon Hunter (who rushed for 1,396 yards this year?the second-highest season total ever for a Ute) being joined by senior defensive tackle Lauvale Sape and sophomore safety Antwoine Sanders.

Those named Honorable Mention were: offensive tackle Jordan Gross, defensive tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, punter Brian Lewis, receiver Josh Lyman, center Dustin McQuivey, safety Arnold Parker, tight end Michael Richardson, punt returner Morgan Scalley, guard Ed Ta’amu and halfback Adam Tate.

The Utes’ 18 All-MWC players were the third-highest team total. Surprisingly, BYU?in spite of its league-high eight First Team selections?was just second overall, with 20 total selections. Colorado State, who will take on North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl, led the conference with 20 selections.

Meanwhile, the individual awards went to a pair of Cougars and a pair of Rebels. Winning Offensive Player of the Year honors was BYU running back Luke Staley, while UNLV defensive back Kevin Thomas was the Defensive Player of the Year. Vegas RB/KR Dominique Dorsey earned the award for best freshman, while the Y’s Gary Crowton earned coaching honors.

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