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Former running back is first SDSU male athlete to win award

Source:  goaztecs.com

Photo courtesy goaztecs.com

July 18, 2018 (San Diego) - Former San Diego State football running back Rashaad Penny has been named the 2017-18 Mountain West Male Athlete of the Year. He is the first Aztec male to win the award and the second SDSU student-athlete to be recognized, following in the footsteps of track and field’s Shanieka Thomas, who was the 2012-13 MW Female Athlete of the Year.

Established by the Mountain West Joint Council in May 2010, the MW Athlete of the Year Awards are bestowed annually to one male and one female student-athlete who have achieved athletic excellence during the past academic year. In addition to superior athletic achievement, criterion for the MW Athlete of the Year Award requires that nominees be in good academic standing throughout their season of competition, and demonstrate good character and conduct on and off the playing field.

Hailing from Norwalk, California, Penny enjoyed a banner season in 2017, as he led FBS last year in rushing yards (2,248), rushing yards per game (172.9), all-purpose yards (2,974) and all-purpose yards per game (228.8), and was second in rushing touchdowns (23), total touchdowns (28), points (168), points per game (12.9) and rushing yards per carry (7.78, min. 175 att.). He rushed 289 times for 2,248 yards (7.8 avg.) with 23 rushing touchdowns, while adding 19 catches for 135 yards (7.1 avg.) and two touchdowns, 17 kick returns for 521 yards (30.6 avg.) and two touchdowns, and two punt returns for 70 yards (35.0 avg.) with a 70-yard score.

Penny finished his final campaign ranked fifth in NCAA FBS single-season history in both rushing yards (2,248) and all-purpose yards (2,974), setting school single-season records in rushing yards (2,248), rushing yards per game (172.9), all-purpose yards (2,974), all-purpose yards per game (228.8), 200-yard rushing games (6) and overall touchdowns (28), while tying program bests in 100-yard rushing games (11) and rushing touchdowns (23). Penny's 2,248 rushing yards were more than 78 other FBS teams (he would've ranked 52nd as a "team").

For his efforts, Penny racked up numerous postseason accolades, highlighted by the fifth-place finish in Heisman Trophy voting. Penny was also a Walter Camp Player-of-the-Year finalist, Maxwell Award semifinalist (college player of the year) and Doak Walker Award semifinalist (nation's premier running back), and a consensus first-team All-American, SDSU's third in program history (Faulk in 1992 and 1993, and Turley in 1997). Penny was also named a first-team All-American by Associated Press, FWAA, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, USA Today, CBS Sports, The All-American and Bleacher Report. Additionally, Penny was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and the MW Special Teams Player of the Year, the first in league history to win two player-of-the-year awards.

Penny helped the Aztecs finish 2017 with a 10-3 record, which was their school-record third consecutive season with at least 10 victories. SDSU is one of just seven schools in the nation to win at least 10 games in three consecutive seasons (also Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin).

In April, Penny was selected in the first round (27th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Penny was SDSU's first player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Kyle Turley in 1998, and ninth first-round pick in program history.

At No. 27, Penny was the highest draft pick by a Group of 5 running back since 2010 and just the sixth G5 running back taken in the first round since 2000. One of only two running backs to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft in program history (Marshall Faulk in 1994), Penny joined Ronnie Hillman (2012 third round to Denver Broncos) and Donnel Pumphrey (2017 fourth round to Philadelphia Eagles) as Aztec running backs taken in the NFL Draft since 2012.

Penny finished his four-year career at San Diego State tied for the most career kick return touchdowns (7) and return (KR/PR) touchdowns (8) in NCAA FBS history. He also finished his Aztec career ranked first all-time in kick return yards (2,449) and rushing yards per carry (7.49, min. 1,100 yards), tied for first in 200-yard rushing games (7), second in all-purpose yards (6,654) and kick returns (81), third in rushing yards (3,656), rushing touchdowns (38), overall touchdowns (52) and 100-yard rushing games (16), and fourth in points scored (312). Penny's 7.49 yards per carry ranked as the third-best mark in NCAA FBS play since 1996 (min. 400 att.), only trailing Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (7.79) and Stanford's Bryce Love (7.76).

Penny finished his career with five straight games with at least 200 yards rushing, tying an NCAA FBS record with USC's Marcus Allen (1981), Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders (1988) and North Texas' Jamario Thomas (2014). He had nine MW player-of-the-week awards for his career, including seven in 2017 in 12 weeks (five-time offensive player of the week, two-time special teams player of the week; he was also a MW Special Teams Player-of-the-Week winner once in 2015 and once in 2016) and played in all 54 games since he arrived on campus in 2014.

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