Ghaifan, Granderson, Wingard among Wyoming players to earn all-conference honors
Seven Wyoming Cowboys were honored with all-conference distinctions by Mountain West head coaches and media, the league announced Wednesday.
Defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, defensive end Carl Granderson and safety Andrew Wingard were voted first-team all-conference, while linebacker Logan Wilson and cornerback Rico Gafford were voted to the second team. Quarterback Josh Allen and kick returner Tyler Hall were voted honorable mention all-conference.
San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny was voted the offensive player of the year and the special teams player of the year, and Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was voted the defensive player of the year. UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers was voted freshman of the year, while Fresno State’s Jeff Tedford was voted coach of the year.
Ghaifan, a redshirt sophomore, has recorded 1.18 tackles for loss per game this season, third best in the Mountain West. His 0.45 sacks per game rank sixth in the conference. The Cowboys led the conference in sacks per game this season with 2.33 (36th nationally) and were second in the conference in tackles for loss per game with 6.80 (34th nationally). Ghaifan was a key part of a Wyoming defensive interior barraged by injuries this season he played in 11 games, missing one to turf toe.
Granderson, a junior, led the conference in sacks and tackles for loss with 0.71 and 1.3 per game, respectively (18th and 29th in the nation). In his first season back from an ACL tear, Granderson led all Mountain West defensive linemen in tackles, with 6.0 per game, earning Mountain West defensive player of the week honors for his performance at Utah State. He had one of his two interceptions this season in that game, as well as a safety to halt the Aggies’ attempted game-winning drive.
Wingard, a junior, was also an all-Mountain West first-team selection as a sophomore, and was named the preseason Mountain West defensive player of the year, as well as being voted preseason all-conference. He was a second-team all-conference selection as a freshman. In 2017, Wingard led all Mountain West defensive backs in tackles with an average of 9.3 per game, fifth in the conference and 29th nationwide among all players. Wingard has led Wyoming or tied for the team lead in tackles in each of his three seasons.
Wingard’s four interceptions were tied for third in the conference and 41st nationwide. His 5.6 solo tackles per game rank fifth in the conference and 21st in the country. Wyoming’s pass defense this year allowed just 160.7 yards per game through the air, best in the conference and fifth in the nation. Wingard earned Mountain West defensive player of the week honors after Wyoming’s wins against Hawaii and New Mexico.
Wilson, a redshirt sophomore, was a preseason all-conference selection after being named the Mountain West freshman of the year last season. He tied Wingard with 111 tackles this season. Wilson’s 9.2 tackles per game rank fifth in the conference among linebackers and 29th in the nation. His 5.9 solo tackles per game are second in the conference and ninth in the nation.
Gafford, a senior, intercepted four passes this year, tied for third in the conference and 41st in the nation. He defended 10 passes this season, eighth in the conference and best on the team. The Cowboys led the conference with 16 interceptions this season, 10th nationally.
Allen, a redshirt junior, was voted the conference’s preseason offensive player of the year, as well as preseason all-conference. He was a second-team all-conference selection last year. Wyoming was 7-3 in Allen’s starts this season before he suffered a shoulder injury Nov. 11 at Air Force that has kept him sidelined since. Allen ranks fifth in the conference in points responsible for with 10.8 per game.
Hall returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season, becoming the first Wyoming player to ever have two in his career. Hall averaged 34.5 yards per kick return but did not meet the minimum of 1.2 returns per game to qualify for league or national rankings.
Last year, Wyoming had five offensive players named either first- or second-team all conference. This year, the Cowboys had none.