July 22, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The work done in 2012 by the University of New Mexico football special teams continues to be recognized in 2013.
Junior kick returner Chase Clayton has earned Mountain West Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year honors, as voted by members of the MW media, the conference announced Monday morning during its Football Media Days meetings.
Clayton is one of three Lobos to earn preseason league recognition.
The Lobos themselves still will be considered underdogs in 2013. The media projected UNM to finish last in the six-team Mountain Division of the conference. With the MW’s expansion to 12 football teams this season, the conference has been divided into the West Division and the Mountain Division.
Boise State is the runaway Mountain Division favorite, garnering 40 of the 41 first-place votes and accumulating 245 points. New member Utah State, winner of the Western Athletic Conference in 2012, finished second in the voting with 204 points and one first-place nod.
Air Force (143 points) is third, followed by Wyoming (116 points), Colorado State (90 points) and UNM (63 points).
Clayton finished first in the Mountain West and fifth in the nation in kick return average in 2012 at 30.4 yards per run back. He had two 98-yard returns for touchdowns last season.
Joining Clayton on the Preseason All-MW team are senior running back Kasey Carrier, who is representing UNM along with senior inside linebacker Dallas Bollema at the media days event, and senior punter Ben Skaer.
Carrier set a UNM single-season rushing record in 2012 with 1,469 yards, including a school and Mountain West single-game record 338 yards at Air Force on Oct. 20, 2012. His 122.4-yard rushing average per game was 12th in the country.
Skaer ranked 17th nationally in punting average last season at 43.9 yards per attempt. He helped the Lobos finish first in the MW in net punting with an average of 39.0 yards per punt.
Fresno State (39 first-place votes) is the runaway favorite in the West Division with 243 points. San Diego State is second with 181 points and one first-place vote. New MW addition San Jose State is third with 172 points and one first place vote.
Nevada (135 points) is fourth, followed by UNLV (71 points) and Hawai‘I (59 points).
The Lobos begin practice Aug. 1 in preparation of their Aug. 31 season opener against Texas-San Antonio on Branch Field at University Stadium at 6 p.m.