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Football's Nat Berhe Named First-Team all-MW

Nat Berhe earned first-team all-MW honors and is one of eight Aztecs on the all-conference team.
Nat Berhe earned first-team all-MW honors and is one of eight Aztecs on the all-conference team.

Dec. 10, 2013

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - San Diego State senior safety (Aztec) Nat Berhe (Colton, Calif./Colton HS) has been named to the 2013 Mountain West Football All-Conference First Team, the league announced today.

Senior offensive tackle Bryce Quigley (Apple Valley, Calif./Granite Hills HS) was picked as a second-team selection, while senior kick returner/wide receiver Colin Lockett (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar HS), junior running back Adam Muema (Covina, Calif./Charter Oak HS), junior offensive tackle Terry Poole (Monterey, Calif./Seaside HS/Monterey Peninsula College), junior Ezell Ruffin (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS), senior linebacker Nick Tenhaeff (Atascadero, Calif./Atascadero HS) and junior J.J. Whittaker (Oceanside, Calif./Oceanside HS) garnered honorable-mention accolades.

Berhe, who was a second-team selection last year and an honorable-mention pick in 2011 as a sophomore, became the first Aztec safety in the MW era (since 1999) to earn all-conference accolades in three consecutive seasons with this first-team honor this year. A three-year starter with the most starts on the team (40) and most consecutive starts (37), Berhe leads SDSU in tackles (94) and solo stops (59) this season, and is tied for the team lead with two fumble recoveries. He also has six pass breakups, 5.0 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a sack. Earlier this year, Berhe broke into the school's all-time tackle list and is now seventh overall and third among secondary players with 294 career stops.

Quigley, who played tight end his first two years, is an all-MW selection for the second straight year at offensive tackle (second team this year, honorable mention in 2012). Quigley blocked quarterbacks Adam Dingwell and Quinn Kaehler's blindside (left tackle), anchoring a line that allowed two or less sacks in each of the final nine games. Quigley, a MW scholar-athlete, also helped running backs Adam Muema (1,015) and Donnel Pumphrey (750) combine for 1,765 rushing yards, averaging 147.1 yards per game. Muema is San Diego State's fourth straight 1,000-yard rusher.

Lockett was chosen as a special teams honorable-mention performer after returning 30 kickoffs for 740 yards and a 24.7 average, despite routinely having the opposing team kick away from him. Lockett, who ranks second in the MW in kick return average and third in all-purpose yards per game (135.3), is the Aztecs' all-time leader in kick return yards (2,195) and kick return touchdowns (3), and fourth in all-purpose yards (4,344). He also leads the team with five receiving touchdowns this year, and is second in receptions (49) and receiving yards (696).

The trio of Berhe, Quigley and Lockett became the first SDSU captains to all be named to the all-MW team since 2002 (J.R. Tolver and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila).

A second-team all-MW pick last year as a sophomore, Muema became the second Aztec running back in the MW era to earn all-conference accolades in back-to-back seasons (Ronnie Hillman, 2010-11). Muema, who has battled injuries in a handful of games this year, leads San Diego State in rushing yards (1,015), rushing attempts (228), rushing touchdowns (12), overall touchdowns (12) and points (76). He is just the fourth Aztec in program history to record multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons and the second since Marshall Faulk did it three times from 1991-93. Muema also has 17 receptions for 94 yards (5.5 avg.).

Poole, the team's right tackle, joined Quigley on the all-conference team, marking the third straight year that SDSU had multiple offensive linemen earn all-MW honors. Poole has helped San Diego State average 262.3 passing yards per game, a year after averaging just 175.9 in 2012. Poole, who has played and started in 11 of the team's 12 games after transferring from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011 and redshirting the 2012 campaign, has allowed just two sacks on the year.

Ruffin was also an honorable-mention all-MW pick after leading the Aztecs in receptions (63), receiving yards (1,061) and reception average (16.8), while adding three touchdown catches. Ruffin ranks fourth in the MW and 26th nationally in receiving yards per game (88.4). After recording 17 catches for 319 yards in his first season on The Mesa last year, Ruffin became the first SDSU player with a 1,000-yard receiving season since 2010 (Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson), the fourth since 2002 and the 20th in school history. He's the first San Diego State wideout to make the all-conference team since 2010 (Brown and Sampson).

Tenhaeff was named an honorable-mention performer after recording 64 tackles (43 solo), team highs of 13.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks, and an interception, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Tenhaeff, who has played in all 51 games over the past four seasons, is ranked in a tie for sixth in the league in tackles for loss per game (1.08) this year and tied for ninth in sacks per game (0.42). He has at least 1.0 TFL in eight of the team's 12 games this season and two or more in three contests. An Aztec linebacker has now made the all-MW team in all 15 years.

Whittaker, the final San Diego State player to garner all-conference honors, made the most of his first collegiate season with 31 tackles (23 solo stops), three interceptions, a team-high 11 pass breakups, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss. Whittaker, who missed all of the past three seasons with various injuries, is ranked in a tie for fourth in the MW and 28th in the country in passes defended per game (1.17) (interceptions plus pass breakups), while his 11 PBUs are tied for third in the league. Whittaker was named the MW Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 23 after recording two tackles, two interceptions, including one of a touchdown, and two pass breakups in the Aztecs' 34-31 overtime win over Boise State.

SDSU (7-5, 6-2 MW), which finished second in the West Division of the MW, will play Buffalo (8-4, 6-2 MAC) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise on Dec. 21 at 3:30 p.m. MT (2:30 p.m. PT).

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets through San Diego State as it will benefit Aztec athletics. Tickets can be purchased at GoAztecs.com ( https://oss.ticketmaster.com/html/pack_home.htmI?l=EN&team=sdsu), over the phone by calling (619) 283-7378, or by visiting the Aztec Ticket Office at Qualcomm Stadium's Window E between 9 a.m. PT and 5 p.m. PT.

Tickets are $50, and fans can also sponsor a band/spirit squad member or underserved youths.

2013 Mountain West All-Conference Football Awards (SDSU winners only)

First Team
AZ Nat Berhe, Sr.

Second Team
OL Bryce Quigley, Sr.

Honorable Mention
KR/WR Colin Lockett, Sr.
RB Adam Muema, Jr.
OL Terry Poole, Jr.
WR Ezell Ruffin, Jr.
LB Nick Tenhaeff, Sr.
DB J.J. Whittaker, Jr.