Dj vu

Utah defensive back Eric Weddle added another trophy to his case this week–one that looks eerily similar to one he picked up just one year ago. The Utes’ star senior was named the Mountain West Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row, joining former Aztec linebacker Kirk Morrison as the only players in league history to accomplish such a feat.

Weddle, the odds-on favorite to repeat as the league’s most decorated defender from the beginning of the year, reached expectations and then some this year. Regarded as a definite prospect for April’s NFL draft and as one of–if not the–the most versatile players in the nation, Weddle intercepted six passes during the regular season and scored three defensive touchdowns, in addition to five on the offensive end as well. Weddle also finished with 58 tackles (two for loss), one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

Weddle was not the only honoree for the Utes, as sophomore kicker/punter Louie Sakoda was the co-recipient of the league’s first-ever Special Teams Player of the Year, sharing the award with New Mexico kicker Kenny Byrd.

Weddle was also joined on the all-conference first team by left tackle Tavo Tupola and defensive tackle Kelly Talavou, while three Utes made the second team. Oddly enough, Sakoda was not named to either all-conference team.

Elsewhere around the MWC, BYU quarterback John Beck was the unanimous choice for Offensive Player of the Year and his coach, Bronco Mendenhall, was named Coach of the Year.

Lennie Mahler

Brett Ratliff passes for 358 yards against BYU Nov. 25 at Rice Eccles Stadium. He hopes to achieve as much success in the Utes’ upcoming bowl game.