Rashaad Penny has graduated from San Diego State and moved on to the NFL, but the former Aztecs running back has added one more collegiate award to his collection.
The Mountain West Conference on Wednesday named Penny its male athlete of the year for 2017-18, becoming the second SDSU athlete so honored. Aztecs track and field athlete Shanieka Thomas was the Mountain West’s 2012-13 female athlete of the year.
The conference has given out the award annually since 2010, recognizing not only outstanding athletic achievement but also requiring winners to be in “good academic standing throughout their season of competition, and demonstrate good character and conduct on and off the playing field.”
Last fall, Penny became the first player in Mountain West history to earn conference player of the year in two categories in the same season when he was named the offensive and special teams player of the year for his 2017 performance.
“Seeing all that type of stuff is amazing,” Penny said at the time. “I don’t even know where to start. It’s a blessing. I can’t thank this program enough because it helped me get to where I’m at now. Just to wake up and see all that is amazing. The first thing I do is send all of it to my mom and dad and then wait until all the coaches text me congratulations and all the players come along, but I couldn’t have done it without this great staff and all these great coaches.”
Penny became the first returner to win three straight MW special teams awards, and he also gave SDSU three straight offensive player of the year honors. Former Aztecs running back D.J. Pumphrey earned the award in 2015-16.
Penny led the nation in rushing, collecting a school-record 2,248 yards. He was second in the nation in rushing touchdowns (23), total touchdowns (28) and points (168). He also had 19 catches for 135 yards and two TDs, along with 17 kick returns for 521 yards and two scored. He ran back the first of his two punt returns 70 yards for a touchdown.
Penny finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, was a finalist for both the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards, and was a Doak Walker Award semifinalist while earning consensus first-team All-America honors.
The Seattle Seahawks drafted Penny with the 26th pick in the first round. He was the ninth first-round choice in SDSU history and the first since Kyle Turley in 1998.