Rocky Long Named Mountain West Coach of the Year
Dec. 4, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - San Diego State's Rocky Long has been named the Mountain West Coach of the Year, the league announced today. The Aztecs also landed 10 on the all-conference team, including senior offensive guard Nik Embernate (Yucaipa, Calif./Yucaipa HS), junior tight end Gavin Escobar (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic HS) and senior cornerback Leon McFadden (Inglewood, Calif. (St. John Bosco HS) on the first team.
Junior safety (Aztec) Nat Berhe (Colton, Calif.), sophomore linebacker Jake Fely (Oceanside, Calif.), senior center Alec Johnson (Denver, Colo.) and sophomore running back Adam Muema (Covina, Calif.) each garnered second-team accolades, while sophomore linebacker Derek Largent (Hermosa Beach, Calif.), junior offensive tackle Bryce Quigley (Apple Valley, Calif.) and sophomore defensive tackle Sam Meredith (La Mesa, Calif.) were honorable mention selections.
Out of the 10 all-league picks, only three - Embernate, McFadden and Johnson - are seniors. McFadden is the only three-time first-team honoree in the league and joins Escobar as the only repeat first-team picks from last year.
Long, the Mountain West's all-time leader in coaching victories, picked up his second career coach-of-the-year award (also 2002 while at New Mexico) after leading SDSU to a 9-3 overall record and a share of the MW title with a 7-1 mark. It was San Diego State's 19th conference title, first Mountain West championship and first league title since 1998. The Aztecs were picked fifth in the preseason poll.
Long became the fourth coach to win multiple MW Coach-of-the-Year honors, joining Sonny Lubick (1999-2000 at Colorado State), Urban Meyer (2003-04 at Utah) and Gary Patterson (2005 and 2009 at TCU). Additionally, he's the second SDSU coach to garner the award (Brady Hoke in 2010).
Embernate became just the second San Diego State offensive lineman to earn first-team all-league honors since 2004 (Tommie Draheim, 2011). A four-year starter with the most starts on the team (45), Embernate has helped the Aztecs set a school record with 2,750 rushing yards and rank 16th in the country in rushing yards per game (229.17).
Escobar made his second straight all-MW first team after being named to the second team as a freshman in 2010. A semifinalist for the Mackey Award (given out annually to the nation's top tight end), Escobar leads SDSU in receptions (41), receiving yards (519) and receiving touchdowns (6). Among the tight ends in the nation, Escobar is tied for fifth in touchdowns, tied for 11th in receptions and 14th in receiving yards.
McFadden became the fifth San Diego State player in school history to earn first-team all-conference accolades in three consecutive seasons and the first since Kirk Morrison from 2002-04. McFadden, who has played in every game since arriving on campus as a true freshman in 2009 and is tied for the most pass breakups in program history, has set career highs this year in tackles (59), solo stops (45), interceptions (3) and forced fumbles (1), while adding 10 PBUs and two interceptions returned for a touchdown.
Berhe earned second-team honors after garnering honorable-mention accolades as a sophomore last year. Berhe leads all Aztecs with 87 tackles (62 solos), while recording three PBUs, two interceptions, 2.0 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. The defensive player of the week on Sept. 10 after recording 14 tackles (10 solos) vs. Army, Berhe ranks 10th in the MW in tackles per game (7.2).
Fely was named a second-team performer after recording 86 tackles, and leading the squad in solo stops (64), tackles for loss (11.5), sacks (7) and forced fumbles (2). Fely, who also has two fumble recoveries and a PBU, ranks fourth in the conference in both sacks per game (0.58) and TFL per game (0.96). He twice was named the MW Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 15 and Oct. 19), becoming the first SDSU player to do that since Joe Martin in 2006.
Johnson was picked for the second team for the second straight year, helping San Diego State set a school record with 2,750 rushing yards with still a game to go. Johnson, who was on the Rimington Trophy Watch List (most outstanding center), has started all four seasons, including all 12 games this year despite breaking his snapping hand vs. North Dakota in the third contest.
Muema was a second-team selection after leading the Mountain West in yards per carry (6.42, min. 800 rushing yards), while finishing the regular season with 1,355 yards (No. 8 in Aztec single-season history) and 16 rushing touchdowns. Among the national leaders, Muema ranks 16th in rushing yards per game (112.92), tied for 34th in scoring per game (8.50) and 41st in all-purpose yards per game (122.33) despite not handling any kickoff or punt returns. In SDSU's win at Wyoming on Nov. 24 to clinch a share of the league title, Muema had 255 yards (No. 4 in MW history, No. 9 in SDSU history) and four touchdowns.
Largent picked up honorable-mention accolades in his first year of Division I football after transferring from El Camino CC. This season he has 57 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, three PBUs, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a forced fumble. His 0.25 fumble recoveries per game ranks in a tie for 11th nationally and tied for second in the MW.
Meredith also was an honorable-mention pick after starting all 12 games at defensive tackle as a true sophomore, while helping San Diego State lead the league in rushing defense (140.2). He finished the regular season with 31 tackles, 4.5 TFL, one sack, a fumble recovery and a PBU. He led all Aztec defensive linemen in tackles, TFL, PBUs and fumble recoveries.
Quigley is the final SDSU player on the all-conference team (honorable mention) after making the move to offensive tackle from tight end in the offseason. Quigley blocked quarterbacks Ryan Katz and Adam Dingwell's blindside (left tackle) and anchored an offensive line that allowed only five sacks over the final four games. Quigley helped San Diego State set a school record with 2,750 rushing yards and blocked for Muema, the 16th-ranked rusher in the nation.
The Aztecs will play Brigham Young (7-5) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. PT at Qualcomm Stadium.
Fans can purchase tickets through GoAztecs.com, over the phone by calling (619) 283-7378, or by visiting the Aztec Ticket Office at Qualcomm Stadium's Window E between 9 a.m. PT and 5 p.m. PT.
SDSU general public tickets are $60 each and will be located behind the Aztec bench. There's also a tailgate package for $40 that includes a buffet with drinks, and another for $20 that includes one food voucher (different vendors will be available) and one drink ticket.
Student tickets, meanwhile, are $40 each. Students with a valid Red ID card can purchase a maximum of two tickets in the View Level behind the San Diego State bench.
2012 Mountain West All-Conference Football Awards (SDSU winners only)
Mountain West Coach of the Year: Rocky Long (San Diego State)