If not for a sprained ankle in 2007, Ryan Wolfe probably would be looking at a third consecutive All-Mountain West Conference honor.
But that injury prompted Wolfe to work even harder, helping him make UNLV football history Wednesday.
He became the first Rebels receiver to be named first-team all-conference for the second time. Wolfe also was first team two years ago when he was named Freshman of the Year.
Wolfe, the only Rebel named first team, caught 88 passes for 1,040 yards and six touchdowns. He tied Randy Gatewood’s single-season receptions record, set in 1994, and became the first UNLV player since Gatewood, also in ’94, to surpass 1,000 yards.
Wolfe was especially pleased to make all-conference “because that shows you have the respect of all the teams you play every year.”
Wolfe became UNLV’s career leader with 209 receptions and 2,735 yards. He was motivated after an ankle injury limited his production in 2007, though he still caught 66 passes for 784 yards.
“That left a taste in my mouth over the summer that I had to get stronger and bigger to stay healthy,” he said.
Linebacker Jason Beauchamp was UNLV’s only second-team selection. He led the Mountain West with 127 tackles, which included six for loss and two sacks.
“I thought he’d be first team, but there are a lot of good linebackers in this league,” UNLV coach Mike Sanford said.
Sanford said it was especially encouraging that Wolfe and Beauchamp received those honors because both are juniors.
Four players were named honorable mention — senior receiver Casey Flair, senior running back Frank Summers, senior offensive lineman Johan Asiata and sophomore defensive lineman Malo Taumua.
Utah dominated the major awards. Senior quarterback Brian Johnson was named Offensive Player of the Year, senior kicker/punter Louie Sakoda was chosen as Special Teams Player of the Year and Kyle Whittingham was selected as Coach of the Year.
Texas Christian junior defensive end Jerry Hughes was Defensive Player of the Year, and Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson was named Freshman of the Year.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914.