Seven Wyoming Cowboys earn All-Mountain West Conference honors
Laramie, Wyo. (Dec. 4, 2012) — The Mountain West Conference announced its 2012 All-Conference Football Team on Tuesday and seven Wyoming Cowboys were honored. The team was selected by Mountain West head coaches and media representatives covering each of the 10 Mountain West member universities.
Wyoming had two First Team All-Conference selections. Senior center Nick Carlson and senior defensive tackle Mike Purcell both were named to the First Team.
A third Cowboy senior, wide receiver Chris McNeill, was voted to the Mountain West Second Team for the second consecutive season.
Four Cowboys earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West led by sophomore quarterbackBrett Smith, senior linebacker Ghaali Muhammad, junior wide receiver Robert Herron and freshman punter Tim Gleeson.
Seniors Carlson and Purcell were both selected to the 2012 Preseason All-Mountain West team by conference media members this past summer.
Carlson earned First Team Honors this season after being a Second Team All-MW selection in 2011 and an Honorable Mention pick in 2010.
For Purcell, it was the first All-Conference recognition of his career from Mountain West coaches and media.
McNeill earned Second Team All-Mountain West for the second consecutive year. Smith earned Honorable Mention honors as a sophomore after being the Freshman of the Year in the Mountain West a year ago. Muhammad, Herron and Gleeson all achieved their first All-Conference accolades of their careers.
San Diego State head coach Rocky Long was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year. Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards both went to Fresno State Bulldogs. Fresno State junior quarterback Derek Carr and senior defensive back Phillip Thomas won those two awards, respectively. Special Teams Player of the Year was awarded to Hawai’i senior kick returner Mike Edwards. The 2012 MW Freshman of the Year award went to Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams.
Here are some details on Wyoming’s 2012 All-Conference selections
•Nick Carlson earns First Team All-Mountain West honors for the first time in his career. He began his senior season being named 2012 Preseason All-Mountain West First Team as selected by Mountain West media at conference media days in July.
Carlson was one of only 10 national finalists for this year’s ARA Sportsmanship Award, and he was the only Mountain West player to be named a finalist.
The senior from Arlington Heights, Ill., was selected to both the 2012 and 2011 Rimington Trophy Watch Lists, honoring the nation’s top center. He was also named to the 2012 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, honoring the nation’s top Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) lineman.
He was one of four Cowboys selected a team captain in 2012. Carlson helped Wyoming’s offense rank No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 39 in the nation in passing offense (265.4 yards per game). He also contributed to a Wyoming offense that ranked No. 3 in the Mountain West and No. 23 in the NCAA in red-zone offense (86.8 conversion percentage). Wyoming’s offense led the Mountain West in fewest turnovers committed, with only 13 total turnovers.
He was a 2011 Second Team All-Mountain West Conference selection in voting by Mountain West head coaches and media, and was a 2010 Honorable Mention All-MW honoree.
•Mike Purcell achieved First Team All-Mountain West for the first time during his Cowboy career. He also earned 2012 Preseason All-Mountain West First Team honors from Mountain West media.
Purcell ranked No. 1 among all MW defensive linemen in tackles, averaging 6.9 tackles per game, and ranked No. 3 among all MW defensive linemen in solo tackles, with 36.
The senior from Highlands Ranch, Colo., ranked No. 14 in the Mountain West in tackles among all players at all positions (6.9 per game).
He ended the season with 83 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup and one blocked kick from his defensive tackle position.
Purcell was amazingly consistent throughout the season, recording five or more tackles in 11 of 12 games. His season high tackle game in conference play came against New Mexico, with 11 tackles. He also forced a fumble versus the Lobos. He had eight tackles and blocked a kick at Texas, and recorded seven tackles versus UNLV. Purcell was credited with six tackles versus Air Force, Fresno State and Toledo, and had five tackles each against Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State and Idaho. His season high in tackles was 16 against Cal Poly. The senior had 0.5 sacks and recovered a fumble to go with 5 tackles versus Colorado State
•Chris McNeill was named Second Team All-Mountain West for the second consecutive season in 2012. He ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 49 in the nation in receptions (5.73 per game). McNeill also ranked No. 4 in the MW and No. 79 in the nation in receiving yards (65.6 yards per game).
A senior from Simi Valley, Calif., McNeill had a career high 219 receiving yards in a 40-37 overtime win at Idaho, which ranks No. 11 in the NCAA this season for a single game. He caught nine passes and scored one TD in Idaho game.
McNeill led Wyoming in receptions (63), receiving yards (722) and had five TD receptions this season.
His 63 receptions this season ranks No. 11 in school history in single-season receptions.
McNeill concluded his Wyoming career with 150 career receptions, ranking him 11th in school history. He had 12 career touchdown receptions, tying him for ninth all-time in UW school history.
An extremely consistent performer, he had five or more receptions in nine of 11 games played this year. McNeill had nine receptions for 72 yards and one TD versus Air Force. He caught seven passes for 93 yards and two TDs against UNLV. He caught six passes and had one TD versus Colorado State, and also caught six passes versus Boise State, New Mexico and Toledo. The senior had five receptions each versus Nevada and Fresno State.
McNeill missed the final game of the 2012 season versus San Diego State due to injury.
•Brett Smith ranked No. 2 in the league and No. 11 in the NCAA in passing efficiency (157.7 rating) in 2012. He also ranked No. 2 in the MW and No. 21 in nation in passing yards (283.7 yards per game). Smith was third in the Mountain West and No. 16 in NCAA in total offense (308.5 yards per game).
Smith was one of three Mountain West quarterbacks to rank in the Top 16 in the nation in total offense. The two MW quarterbacks who were voted First Team and Second Team All-Conference this season, Fresno State junior Derek Carr (First Team) and Nevada sophomore Cody Fajardo (Second Team) ranked No. 2 and No. 1, respectively, in the conference in total offense. Carr averaged 315.3 yards per game to rank No. 12 in the nation, and Fajardo averaged 319.2 ypg to rank No. 11 in the NCAA.
Smith was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week three times this season. He was the only sophomore in the nation named to the Manning Award Preseason Watch List, and was named one of the Manning Award “Stars of the Week” twice during the season.
He was selected one of four Wyoming team captains in 2012 as only a sophomore.
The Salem, Ore., native concluded the season attempting 174 passes without throwing an interception, which ranks as the second longest streak in Mountain West and Wyoming history (second only to the 178 pass attempts without an interception set by Casey Bramlet of Wyoming in 2003).
Smith threw 27 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in 2012. He also rushed for six TDs.
His 27 TD passes in 2012 rank as the second best single-season total in school history. His 3,085 yards of total offense ranks No. 7 in Wyoming school history for a single season, and his 2,837 passing yards this season ranks No. 9 in Wyoming school history for a single season.
He will enter his junior season next year ranked No. 5 in career total offense in school history, with 6,417 yards, and ranked No. 6 in career passing yards, with 5,459. He has 47 career touchdown passes, which ranks No. 4 in UW history.
Smith accomplished all this while missing two complete games (versus Cal Poly and Air Force) and part of a third game (against Toledo) due to injury.
•Ghaali Muhammad ranked No. 4 in the Mountain West and No. 53 in the NCAA in tackles, averaging 8.8 tackles per game. He ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 16 in the NCAA in solo tackles, averaging 5.9 solo tackles this season. Muhammad also ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and is tied for No. 2 in the NCAA in fumbles recovered with four on the season.
The native of St. Joseph, Mo., he ranked No. 11 in the Mountain West in tackles for loss, with 10.0 TFLs an average of 0.83 per game.
After moving back to linebacker from playing running back as a junior, Muhammad became Wyoming’s leading tackler this season, with 106 total tackles and 71 solo tackles.
He had a season high 15 tackles on the road at Nevada, including nine solo tackles and added 1.0 sack, 3.0 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery versus the Wolf Pack. Muhammad recorded 13 tackles on the road at Fresno State, including 10 solo tackles, 1.0 TFL, one PBU and one fumble recovery that he returned 31 yards. He was credited with 12 tackles and 2.5 TFLs versus Cal Poly and had 11 tackles vs. Boise State, including 1.5 TFLs and forced 1 fumble. The senior recorded 11 tackles at New Mexico, including nine solo tackles. He was credited with nine tackles at Idaho and at UNLV, and had eight tackles versus Toledo and San Diego State.
•Robert Herron began the season with five receptions for 173 yards at Texas, including two TD receptions of 82 and 22 yards. He concluded the season with 10 catches for 187 yards and two TD receptions of 70 yards and 42 yards against San Diego State. His 187-yard performance versus San Diego State ranks as the 39th best single-game performance in the NCAA this season.
Herron was forced to miss four games during the season due to injury, but he still led Wyoming in TD receptions (8) and average yards per reception (21.2 yards per catch). The games he missed were against Toledo, Cal Poly, Idaho and Air Force.
The Los Angeles, Calif., native ranked No. 2 on Wyoming team in receiving yards (657) this season. He concluded his junior season with 31 receptions for 657 yards and eight TDs on the year.
His final three games of 2012 saw him catch three passes for 94 yards at New Mexico, three for 95 yards at UNLV and 10 for 187 against San Diego State. Herron averaged 82.1 yards receiving per game in the eight games he played.
•Tim Gleeson ranked No. 4 in the Mountain West and No. 26 in the nation in punting, averaging 43.0 yards per punt.
The true freshman from Melbourne, Australia, played his first year of American football after coming to Wyoming from Australia where he was an Australian Rules Football player.
Gleeson placed 34 percent (21 of 62) of his punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, and forced 14 fair catches. He also had 13 punts of over 50 yards.
Gleeson did not have a single blocked punt in his freshman season.
His best game of the season was against Idaho, where he averaged 48.6 yards per punt on five punts, including one punt inside the 20-yard line and three punts over 50 yards.
Gleeson’s best conference game came on the road at UNLV, averaging 47.5 yards per punt on four punts, including one punt inside the 20-yard line and one punt over 50 yards.
At Nevada, he averaged 45.5 yards per punt on six punts, including two punts inside the 20-yard line and three punts over 50 yards. Against New Mexico, he averaged 44.3 yards per punt on seven punts, including three punts inside the 20-yard line and one punt over 50 yards. Versus Boise State, Gleeson averaged 44.0 yards per punt on five punts, including one punt inside the 20-yard line and one punt over 50 yards. Against Air Force, he averaged 43.7 yards per punt on 3 punts, including 2 punts inside the 20-yard line.
The release from the Mountain West Conference can be found here.