COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – (Hawaii Athletics) University of Hawai‘i kick returner Mike Edwards was selected as the Mountain West's Special Teams Player of the Year as voted by the league's 10 head coaches and select media panelo. In addition, Edwards, a junior from Cleveland, Ohio, was named to the first-team as a return specialist and to the second-team as a defensive back.
Also selected to the all-MW teams were senior defensive lineman Paipai Falemalu and senior punter Alex Dunnachie, both of whom were named to the second team. Freshman offensive lineman Ben Clarke and junior defensive lineman Tavita Woodard were honorable mention picks.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and Bulldog safety Phillip Thomas were named offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively. Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams was MW Freshman of the Year while San Diego State's Rocky Long was MW Coach of the Year.
Edwards is the first UH player selected as special teams player of the year since placekicker Jason Elam won Western Athletic Conference honors in 1992. Edwards led the country in kickoff return yardage with 1,215 – which also set a new MW single-season record – and ranked sixth nationally with a 30.4 average.
He was one of only four players nationally with at least three kickoff returns for touchdown. His three scores set new UH and MW single-season marks and he is the only player in MW history to record two 100-yard kick returns in a single season. Edwards also is the school's career kickoff return yardage leader (2,301) as well as kickoff touchdowns leader (3).
Defensively, Edwards is tied for 12th nationally with 17 passes defended, which includes two interceptions. He was the team's fourth-leading tackler with 43 and had five tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
Falemalu, a preseason all-MW pick, tied for the team-lead with 56 tackles, including 10.0 for loss, which is tied for 11th in the MW. The senior from Hau‘ula, O‘ahu also had five sacks, which is tied for ninth in the MW, and has two fumbles recovered.
Dunnachie ranks sixth nationally and second in the MW in punting and set a new UH single-season record with a 46.16 average. He had 20 punts of over 50 yards, including a career-long 73 yarder against UNLV, and 12 inside the 20.
Clarke, a true freshman from Littleton, Colo., started all 12 games at center helped to anchor the offensive line. He finished the season with 12 pancake tackles and allowed only two sacks. He was one of two true freshmen nationally to start the season at center. Woodard, a junior from Honolulu, played in all 12 games as at defensive end and tackle and was sixth on the team with 38 tackles. He also ranks sixth in the MW in sacks with 5.5 and had one interception and three quarterback hurries.
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