Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com
By: Ana Kieu
Look, this San Jose State Spartans’ season was far from glamorous, but Spartan nation had something to rejoice about Wednesday, as 7 Spartans were named to the All-Mountain West football team in Colorado Springs, Colo.
SJSU tight end Josh Oliver and defensive back Dakari Monroe were named first-team All-Mountain West football players for this season in a vote by the conference’s 12 head coaches.
In addition, defensive lineman Bryson Bridges was a second-team pick. Linebacker Ethan Aguayo, return specialist Thai Cottrell, punter Bryce Crawford and defensive lineman Boogie Roberts were honorable mention selections.
The 7 Spartans named to the All-Mountain West teams were 3 more than the 4 players honored in 2017.
Oliver, a senior from Paso Robles, Calif., was one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the FBS. He was the first tight end to catch 50 passes this season and finished with personal bests of 56 receptions, a team-best, for 709 yards and four touchdowns. Oliver’s 709 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns were second best on the team.
3 times, Oliver was recognized nationally through the John Mackey Tight End of the Week awards program. He was an honorable mention choice after the UC Davis (Aug. 30) and UNLV (Oct. 27) games and the National Tight End of the Week for matching his career-best of 8 catches for a personal high of 158 yards and a touchdown, Monroe, a senior from San Jose, Calif., was the team leader in interceptions for the second consecutive year with 4. He returned 1 of his 2 interceptions in the UNLV win for a 50-yard return for a touchdown. Throughout the season, Monroe was ranked nationally in the top 20 and often in the top 10 either for interceptions or passes defended. At the end of the regular season, he was tied for sixth nationally with his 19 passes defended in 12 games.
The versatile Monroe also was one of the team’s most effective special teams players. He had a knack of downing team punts inside the 10-yard line. In the last two games versus Nevada and against Fresno State, he downed a punt at the 1-yard line in each game.
Bridges, a senior from Temecula, Calif., was credited with more tackles than any Mountain West defensive lineman. His 69 tackles were sixth best on the team and a personal best in his four seasons in a San Jose State uniform. Bridges was credited with a single-game high of 15 stops in the Oct. 13 Army West Point game at Levi’s Stadium.
Oliver, Monroe and Bridges were three of the team’s four captains. Roberts, the fourth co-captain, was in the group of honorable mention award winners. The senior from Los Angeles, was second on the team with 8.5 tackles for loss and had 48 total tackles. He led the team with two forced fumbles and shared the team lead with four quarterback hurries.
Roberts was 1 of 4 Spartans to force a fumble and recover a fumble in the same game from his nose tackle position. At Hawaii, Roberts picked up a Rainbow Warriors’ fumble and returned it 9 yards. The following week versus Colorado State, he was credited with SJSU’s first safety in 5 years when he tackled Rams’ quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels in the end zone.
Since joining the Mountain West in 2013, the 2018 season marks the first time 2 SJSU defensive linemen were recognized as all-conference players in the same season. Overall, Bridges and Roberts are the second and third Spartan defensive linemen to be named an All-Conference Player in the program’s 6 seasons in the conference.
Aguayo, a junior from Mission Viejo, Calif., led the Spartans in total tackles with 106. He recorded his single-game personal best of 20 tackles in the Nov. 17 game versus Nevada. 5 more times during the season, he was credited with 10 or more stops.
Cottrell, a senior from Oceanside, Calif., presently ranks 19th in kickoff returns with his 25.8 yards per return average. He returned kickoffs for 96 yards at Oregon and 72 versus Hawaii early in the season.
Cottrell also was the Spartans’ primary punt returner. He returned 11 punts for a 9.4 yards per return average. Cottrell was ranked 12th nationally for combined return yardage at 670 yards.
Crawford, a senior from Frisco, Texas, handled all the kicking chores through the first 5 games of the season. He took over the punting duties when 2018 spring practice began and kept the job throughout the season. His 44.3 yards per punt average ranks 16th nationally for individual punting.
Based on available information, Crawford’s believed to be the first SJSU kicker to be named All-Conference in kicking and punting. Crawford was an Honorable Mention All-Mountain West pick as a placekicker in 2017.