Penny Named a Phil Steele Preseason Second-Team All-American
July 20, 2017
SAN DIEGO -
San Diego State senior running back Rashaad Penny (Norwalk, Calif.) has been named a preseason second-team All-American by Phil Steele’s 2017 College Football Preview magazine as a kick returner.
Penny also made the preseason all-Mountain West first team as a running back and a kick returner, and was joined by senior tight end David Wells (Clovis, Calif.), senior punt returner Quest Truxton (Newport Beach, Calif.) and junior kicker John Baron II (Temecula, Calif.). Senior offensive lineman Antonio Rosales (Tucson, Ariz.), senior wide receiver Mikah Holder (Oceanside, Calif.), senior defensive tackle Sergio Phillips (DeSoto, Texas), junior safety Parker Baldwin (Siloam Springs, Ark.) and senior cornerback Kameron Kelly (Murphy, Texas) each landed on the second team, while junior defensive end Noble Hall (Las Vegas) garnered third-team honors and sophomore running back Juwan Washington (Kennedale, Texas) made the fourth team.
The magazine also projected the Aztecs to win the MW Championship game and play Colorado in the Royal Las Vegas Bowl. SDSU is also ranked 41st and is listed as the seventh-best non-Power 5 team.
San Diego State is coming off an 11-3 season, knocking off Wyoming, 27-24, in the MW Championship game and Houston, 34-10, in the Las Vegas Bowl, to finish with a No. 25 ranking in both the AP Top 25 poll and the Amway Coaches Poll. It was just the second time that the Aztecs have been ranked in the final AP poll in program history (also 1977). The 11 wins tied a school single-season record as SDSU became the first team in program history with back-to-back 11-win campaigns.
Last year, Penny rushed for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns on 136 attempts (7.5 avg.), while adding 15 catches for 224 yards (14.9 avg.) and three touchdowns, and returning 20 kickoffs for 624 yards (31.2 avg.) and two additional scores. He was one of just nine players in the country with at least 11 rushing TDs and at least three receiving scores, and the only player with a kick return TD as well (he had two). Penny ranked in a tie for second in the country in kick return touchdowns (2), fourth in kick return average (31.2), tied for 20th in total touchdowns (17) and 29th in all-purpose yards per game (133.3). For his efforts, he became the second kick returner in MW history to win the league’s special teams player-of-the-year award twice (also 2015) and was first-team all-MW pick as a kick returner for the second straight season.
Wells, meanwhile, caught 25 passes (tied for third on the team) for 294 yards (11.8 avg.) and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns were tied for the 22nd most in the country among tight ends. According to Pro Football Focus, Wells caught 25 of the 29 passes thrown his way in 2016, the top percentage in the country (86.2) among tight ends (min. 8 receptions). Considered one of the best blocking tight ends in the country, Wells also caught a 2-point conversion. He was a second-team all-MW selection last season.
Truxton made the preseason all-MW team as a punt returner after leading the league and ranking 27th nationally with a 9.0 punt return average. An honorable-mention all-league selection last year, Truxton returned 30 punts on the season for 271 yards. His 9.0 punt return average was the second best by an Aztec since 1996 (min. 20 punt returns), while his 271 yards rank as the third most since 1996.
Baron is coming off a season where he set school records in field goals (21) and field goal percentage (.913), going 21 of 23 on the year. Baron, who enters 2017 with 19 consecutive makes from 50 or less yards, led the Aztecs with 119 points last season and ranked 10th nationally in field goal percentage, 20th in points per game among kickers (8.50) and field goals per game (1.50), and 35th in overall points per game (8.50). For his efforts, he became SDSU’s first Lou Groza Award semifinalist since J.C. Mejia in 2003 and was the first San Diego State kicker to earn first-team all-Mountain West honors in program history.
The only returning starter from the offensive line last year, Rosales led the second-team selections after helping SDSU to program records in rushing yards (3,680), rushing touchdowns (34), rushing yards per carry (5.8), points (493) and field goals (21) last year. Additionally, he blocked for a team that had the first 2,000-yard rusher (Donnel Pumphrey) and 1,000-yard rusher (Penny) in NCAA FBS history.
Holder caught 27 passes for 581 yards (21.5 avg.) and five touchdowns, leading the Aztecs in all three categories (tied for lead in catches, min. four receptions for average). He ranked seventh in the country last year in catch average (21.5).
Backing up Hall at defensive tackle, but splitting reps, Phillips amassed 42 tackles (20 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks for 17 yards, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and three quarterback hurries.
Baldwin made 66 stops (37 solo), three tackles for loss, two interceptions, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and seven pass breakups, despite only starting the final eight games last year. His 66 tackles were third most on the 11th-best defensive team (total defense) in the country last season.
Kelly totaled 38 tackles (19 solo) in 2016 with five interceptions for 47 yards and six pass breakups. He is making the move to cornerback this year after playing Warrior (safety) each of his first three years on The Mesa.
Hall made the preseason third team after recording 26 tackles (12 solo), six tackles for loss for 27 yards, three sacks for 19 yards, a pass breakup and five quarterback hurries last year. Hall is expected to play defensive end this season after starting all 14 games at defensive tackle last year.
On the fourth team for SDSU was Washington, who rushed 55 times for 441 yards (8.0 avg.) and six touchdowns, caught three passes for 72 yards (24.0 avg.) and returned 10 kicks for 293 yards (29.3 avg.) and another score. Heading into the bowl game last year, Washington was one of only five freshmen in the country with at least five rushing touchdowns and a receiving score, and one of only two with a kick return TD as well.
The magazine also had San Diego State as the top MW units at four positions, including special teams (No. 9 nationally), linebackers (No. 29 nationally), defensive line and coaching staff.
2017 Aztec football season tickets, mini plans and single-game tickets are now on sale. Season tickets start at $125, while mini plans start at $90. Fans can purchase tickets at GoAztecs.com, over the phone by calling (619) 283-7378, or by visiting Qualcomm Stadium's Window E Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. PT and 5 p.m. PT.
Phil Steele’s 2017 College Football Review
Predicted MW Championship Outcome
Predicted West Division Finish
2017 Preseason All-America Team
2017 Preseason Mountain West Team
Top MW Units
Top-40 FBS Units
Other Team Superlatives