SDSU Mountain West NCAA
Aztec Patrick McMorris, a first-team all-MW selection. Photo credit: goaztecs.com

For a fourth straight year, San Diego State had the most first-team all-Mountain West selections with seven, helping the Aztecs to match a top mark for the program.

That topped both first-team honorees for both Fresno State (which won the conference championship game Saturday) and San Jose State.

SDSU also had the most combined first and second teamers, 11, three more than Fresno State, and the most all-conference selections overall, at 16, which ties a program best from 2001.

On the first team: offensive lineman Alama Uluave, Jordan Byrd as both kick and punt returner, defensive lineman Jonah Tavai, linebacker Caden McDonald, safety Patrick McMorris and Jack Browning at punter.

On the second team: wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, tight end Mark Redman, offensive lineman Cade Bennett and linebacker Michael Shawcroft. 

Honorable mentions: quarterback Jalen Mayden, wide receiver Jesse Matthews,  defensive lineman Keshawn Banks and cornerbacks Dez Malone and Dallas Branch.

Browning also was named MW Special Teams Player of the Year.

The all-conference awards are voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches and various media members.

Uluave made the first team after earning honorable mention last season and is the top center in the league based on Pro Football Focus’ measures of pass block rating (78.5, min. 300 passing opportunities) and fifth among all linemen in the league. He allowed one sack in 367 passing chances, playing 746 out of the team’s 755 offensive snaps overall.

Byrd became the first SDSU player to make a MW first team at both kick returner and punt returner.

The preseason MW Special Teams Player of the Year, Byrd returned 19 kickoffs for 487 yards (25.6 avg.) with a 95-yard touchdown, and also returned 17 punts for 115 yards and another score. It is Byrd’s third career all-MW award at kick returner, having been a second-team pick in 2020 and a first-team selection in 2021.

Tavai heads up a list of three SDSU players on the first-team defense.

The senior, who earned honorable mentions in 2020-21, has 57 tackles (30 solo), including 12.5 tackles for loss (for 65 yards), nine sacks (for 62 yards), a forced fumble and 13 quarterback hurries in his 12 starts this season.

McDonald made the all-MW first team for a third consecutive season, joining fellow Aztec Kirk Morrison (2002-04) as the only linebackers in league history (since 1999) to make three all-MW first teams.

He totaled 41 tackles (16 solo) on the season in 12 starts, including two sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, an interception, two pass breakups and nine quarterback hurries.

McMorris landed on his second straight all-conference team, becoming just the second SDSU safety to make two all-MW first teams.

The preseason MW Co-Defensive Player of the Year has 59 tackles (28 solo) in 11 starts on the season, including 2.5 tackles for loss, an interception, five pass breakups, a 30-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and a quarterback hurry.

Shavers became a second-team all-MW selection, the first San Diego State wide receiver to earn first or second-team honors since 2010. He has 34 catches for a team-high 581 yards (17.1 avg.) with three touchdowns, and started all 12 games.

Redman was selected as a second-team all-MW pick in his first season after transferring from Washington. He has 20 catches for 224 yards (11.2 avg.) with a touchdown on the year with a long catch of 28 yards.

Bennett also made the MW second team in his first year after transferring from Oklahoma State. Starting all 12 games at left guard, Bennett has played 748 of the team’s 755 offensive snaps this season, the most on the team and allowed only five quarterback pressures (no sacks) in 367 passing opportunities.

Shawcroft was picked as a second-team honoree after earning honorable mention a year ago. He led the team with 77 tackles, 18 more than the next Aztec. He also has 12 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries.

Mayden became an honorable mention selection at quarterback, despite playing his first five games at safety. He is the first Aztec quarterback since Ryan Lindley – now his coach – in 2010 to earn all-MW honors.

Matthews made his first all-MW team after being named a preseason all-conference pick. On the year, Matthews has a team-high 38 catches for 409 yards (10.8 avg.) with three touchdowns and a long catch of 28 yards.

Banks landed on his fourth all-MW team having now earned second-team accolades in 2019 and 2021, and honorable mention status in 2020. A MW preseason all-conference selection, Banks has 33 tackles (12 solo), 7.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a pass breakup and six quarterback hurries in 12 starts.

Playing the first defensive snaps of his career after spending his first two years on special teams, Malone made his first all-MW team as an honorable mention, totaling 41 tackles (33 solo) with a tackle for loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups.

Branch played well down the stretch to join Malone as an all-conference cornerback. He has 29 tackles on the season (21 solo), including five tackles for loss and a sack, three interceptions, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups in 12 games. He had an interception in three straight games from Nov. 5-18, which is tied for the longest in FBS play this season.

The season is not over though. San Diego State (7-5) will play Middle Tennessee (7-5) in the EasyPost Hawai`i Bowl at 5 p.m. Dec. 24.


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Ellen Bullock