Idaho football picked up 10 Sun Belt all-conference awards Wednesday, including three first-team selections, three second-team honors and four honorable mention nods. It is the first time three Vandals were named first-team all-league in the same season since 2008 (Western Athletic Conference).
Senior running back Aaron Duckworth, senior defensive end Aikeem Coleman and junior linebacker Tony Lashley were named to the All-Sun Belt First Team. It is the first first-team honor for each. Coleman (second team) and Lashley (honorable mention) were all-conference picks in 2016, while this is the first award of any kind for Duckworth.
Junior linebacker Kaden Elliss, sophomore offensive linemen Noah Johnson and freshman punter Cade Coffey earned second-team distinction. Elliss was an honorable mention selection in 2016, and Johnson was picked to the all-newcomer team last season. The conference did not name an all-newcomer team this season after switching from two all-conference teams to three.
Idaho’s honorable mention honorees were senior defensive tackle Arie Anderson, junior linebacker Ed Hall, senior linebacker Leonard Hazewood and senior wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor.
Duckworth led the Sun Belt with 1,025 rushing yards, the only student-athlete in the conference to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing. He is the first Vandal to lead a league in rushing yards since Joel Thomas in 1996 (Big West). Duckworth ranked second in the league in rushing yards per game (85.4) and all-purpose yards per game (135.17). The Orange Park, Fla., native is the first Idaho running back to earn first-team all-conference recognition since Willie Alderson in 2000 (Big West).
Coleman recorded a team-high seven sacks and ranked second on the squad with 14 tackles for loss. Both marks ranked in the top five of the conference. Coleman, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, was the 2016 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year. He earned second-team honors a season ago after leading the Vandals with eight sacks.
Lashley racked up 123 tackles on the season, the most by a Vandal since 2007, ranking second in the Sun Belt. His 6.5 solo stops per game are the top mark in the league and No. 5 nationally. Lashley registered seven games with double-digit tackles, including a career-best 16 three times. He had 14 tackles for loss, fourth most in the Sun Belt. The Kansas City, Mo., native was an honorable mention choice last season as a sophomore.
Elliss garnered second-team honors at linebacker after leading the Vandals and ranking third in the Sun Belt with 16 tackles for loss. His 15 solo tackles for loss led the league. Elliss’ six sacks were second on the team and fifth in the conference. The versatile athlete hauled in seven receptions on offense for 156 yards and two touchdowns and also played special teams where he blocked a kick.
Johnson started all 12 games for the Vandals at strong guard. The leader of the offensive line as a true sophomore, Johnson helped pave the way for Duckwroth’s 1,000-yard season.
Coffey averaged 44.6 yards per punt on 66 attempts this season. His average is good for No. 2 in the Sun Belt and No. 9 in the FBS. More than 30 percent of Coffey’s punts went for 50 yards, including a long of 68. The Rathdrum, Idaho, native pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line on 35 percent of his punts. He was twice named Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week.
Anderson started all 12 games on the interior of Idaho’s defensive line. He recorded three sacks and seven tackles for loss among his 42 total tackles. He also deflected two passes and blocked a field goal.
Hall led the Vandals with three interceptions, while ranking third on the team at 78 tackles from his weak side linebacker position.
Hazewood came on strong in his first season full healthy, recording 5.5 sacks among 11 tackles for loss. His sack count ranked top 10 in the Sun Belt.
Onunwor ranked in the top three of the Sun Belt in receptions per game (5.8; third), receiving yards (856; third) and receiving touchdowns (eight; second). He caught at least one touchdown in six of Idaho’s eight conference matchups.