LARAMIE -- Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels' dynamic rookie season was rewarded on Tuesday when he was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year.

Carta-Samuels is UW's first conference Freshman of the Year since Steve Scifres won in 1993 when the Pokes were in the Western Athletic Conference.

"It means a lot, especially in the conference that we play in," Carta-Samuels said. "The push of athletes being more prepared in high school means a lot more freshmen are playing and that really opens up the field in the competition for that award.

"It's really exciting and obviously I have to thank my teammates for everything they've done for me."

The San Jose, Calif., native was named MWC Offensive Player of the Week three times this season. He finished with 1,752 yards passing and seven touchdowns and ran for 295 yards while guiding the Cowboys to four come-from-behind victories.

Beyond the numbers, the season has been even more memorable for Carta-Samuels.

"The relationships I've built with my teammates and especially my seniors [is what I'll remember most]," he said. "It started off a little rough and there's rough patches throughout the season no matter where you play ... but having the older guys help me through that meant a lot to me."

In total, seven UW players were honored as the league announced first-team, second-team and honorable mention all-league selections.

Senior defensive tackle John Fletcher was UW's only player to earn first-team, all-conference honors, doing so one year after making the league's second team.

Sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks and junior safety Chris Prosinski earned second-team, all-league honors.

Junior wide receiver David Leonard, sophomore punter Austin McCoy and senior defensive end Mitch Unrein earned honorable mention status.

"These seven individuals had outstanding years for our team and are very deserving of these honors," UW coach Dave Christensen said. "All of these individuals made a number of big plays for us during the season. Their competitive desire and hard work helped lead us to a bowl bid, while playing one of the toughest schedules in the country."

That slate is not quite complete.

The Cowboys finished 6-6 to earn their first bowl bid since 2004 and will likely play in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 19, though Carta-Samuels and the Pokes are still waiting on an official announcement.

"We're still waiting," Carta-Samuels said. "I think a lot of us want to play in that New Mexico Bowl. I think it's definitely a good bowl, talking to people who have been a part of it.

"But right now we're just waiting that out."

UW ANNOUNCES TEAM AWARDS: UW also released winners of team awards following its Saturday banquet that wrapped up the regular season.

Fletcher earned the Team MVP honor and shared the Hammer Award for the hardest hits with freshman linebacker Ghaali Muhammad.

Others honored included: senior linebacker Weston Johnson (Most Inspirational, Iron Man Award); Carta-Samuels (Freshman of the Year); Prosinski (Defensive Back of the Year); Hendricks (Linebacker of the Year); Unrein (Defensive Lineman of the Year); sophomore running back Brandon Stewart (Offensive Back of the Year); Leonard (Receiver of the Year); and sophomore right tackle Clayton Kirver (Offensive Lineman of the Year); among others.

Contact sports reporter Eric Schmoldt at eric.schmoldt@trib.com. Check out his blog at tribtown.trib.com/ESchmoldt/blog

 

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