UH Football head coach Rolovich picked as Coach of the Year; Record 11 Conference honorees
(Hawaii Athletics) - University of Hawai'i head coach Nick Rolovich was selected as the Mountain West's Coach of the Year as picked by a panel of media and the league's 12 head coaches. In addition, a record 11 Rainbow Warriors were honored on the all-conference teams.
Rolovich, who guided the Rainbow Warriors (9-4) to a West Division title, is the program's first coach of the year honoree and the first UH head coach to win a conference coach of the year award since June Jones in 2007. Overall, Rolovich earned UH's seventh coach of year award and joins Jones (3x), Bob Wagner (2x), and Dick Tomey, all of whom were honored by the Western Athletic Conference.
Slot receiver Cedric Byrd II was UH's lone representative on the all-conference first team. The senior from Los Angeles, Calif., is the team leader in receptions (91) and receiving yards (1,049). He has reached the end zone 10 times and has caught at least four passes in all 13 games this season, ranking 12th nationally with a 7.0 receptions per game average.
Three Warriors were named to the second team – quarterback Cole McDonald, wide receiver JoJo Ward and offensive lineman Ilm Manning. Seven others were honorable mention – defensive backs Cortez Davis and Rojesterman Farris II, defensive linemen Kaimana Padello and Blessman Ta'ala, offensive linemen Gene Pryor and Taaga Tuulima, and linebacker Solomon Matautia.
The 11 honorees are the most since UH joined the Mountain West in 2012.
The league's Offensive Player of the Year went to San Jose State quarterback Josh Love while Boise State captured three major awards – Defensive Player of the Year (Curtis Weaver), Special Teams Player of the Year (Avery Williams), and Freshman of the Year (George Holani).
McDonald has completed 64.8 percent of his attempts this season for 3,401 yards and 29 touchdowns. He ranks No. 8 nationally in total offense (317.1 yards/game) and No. 10 in points responsible for (212). The La Mirada, Calif., native leads the MW in five categories including completion percentage and passing efficiency (147.6).
Ward leads the team with a 16.5 yards per catch average and 11 receiving touchdowns, the latter of which ranks No. 12 nationally. On the year, the Waco, Texas native has 55 receptions for 906 yards and has a team-leading 12 catches of 29 or more yards.
Manning, a sophomore from Glendale, Ariz., leads the team with 69 knockdowns and has allowed only one sack in more than 550 pass plays. He has started every game this season and all 27 of his career.
Five defensive players were picked honorable mention, including starting cornerbacks Farris (Coral Springs, Fla.) and Davis (Decatur, Ga.), who have combined for 22 pass breakups and two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Matautia, a senior from 'Ewa Beach, O'ahu, is the team's leading tackler (68), who also has two interceptions and a sack.
Padello (Mililani, O'ahu), an all-MW second team pick last season, was leading the team in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (7.0) before an injury forced him to miss the final three games of the regular season. Ta'ala (Au, American Samoa) is the anchor of the defensive line and has 18 tackles on the year.
Tuulima, a junior center from 'Ewa Beach, O'ahu, was picked as the team's Offensive Most Valuable Player at Sunday's team banquet. He has played in all but 20 snaps all season, allowing only two sacks. Pryor, a junior from Vasalia, Calif., started the first 12 games at right tackle and was the recipient of the team's Most Improved Player award.