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Noble Takes Home Three Honors at Football Awards Banquet

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Joey Noble, who was basically unstoppable all season long, took home three awards including the Bill Brannin Most Valuable Player Award, highlighting a festive night at the Lobo Football Awards Banquet.  The banquet served to not only cap the 2021 season, but it kicks off the 2022 season as well as Lobo Football hosts its National Signing Day watch party at Revel Entertainment on Wednesday from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

The Lobo Football Awards Banquet was held at the Embassy Suites in downtown Albuquerque, emceed by Voice of the Lobos Robert Portnoy.

Noble earned the Bill Brannin Most Valuable Player Award, the Col. H.J. Golightly Defensive MVP Award and he was also named Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman.  Noble recorded 18.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, both numbers leading the team.  His 18.5 TFLs is 10th in school history, and it was the most in 20 years.  It also was the most since a 2003 rule change that credited half-tackles for loss.  Previously a half-tackle for loss was credited as a full TFL.  Going by the old rule, his total would be second all-time at UNM.

Noble, who amazingly was only named Honorable Mention All-Mountain West, is UNM’s top shot for the NFL in 2022.  He graded out extremely well in Pro Football Focus’ metrics, and he was among the top five in the nation among defensive linemen in terms of total QB pressures (hits plus hurries plus sacks).

A pair of true freshmen also picked up top honors as Aaron Dumas was named the Reese Hill Offensive MVP and Luke Wysong was named the Special Teams MVP.  Dumas rushed for 658 yards, becoming the first true freshman to lead the team in rushing since DonTrell Moore in 2002.  Dumas led the team in yards, rushing touchdowns (2, tied with Bobby Cole), attempts (136) and yards per carry (4.8).

Wysong became the first true freshman to lead UNM in all-purpose yardage with 717 total yards.  He averaged 11.0 yards per punt return on a team-high seven returns and 20.3 yards per kickoff return on a team-high 15 returns.  His weaving, ankle-shattering 63-yard punt return for a touchdown against Colorado State marked just UNM’s second punt return for a touchdown since the 2002 season.  Wysong also led UNM in receiving with 24 catches and 224 yards.  Wysong was named Honorable Mention All-MW and was one of two freshmen (and the only true freshman) to be named to the team.

Tavian Combs, who was second at UNM in tackles per game (7.36) and total tackles (81) as a true sophomore was named the Clyde Hill Most Improved Player.  Combs started all 11 of the games he played in with three double-digit tackle games.  He tied with true freshman Ronald Wilson for the team lead with two interceptions, and he also had four pass breakups.

Kyle Stapley, who finished the season with his 43rd consecutive start along the offensive line and was one of only two Mountain West linemen to log 100 snaps at all three interior line spots, was named the team’s Outstanding Offensive Lineman.

Bobby Cole, a running back, was named the Chuck Cummings Most Inspirational Award winner.  Cole, who started the season as the featured back, moved to a fullback role as UNM switched to a more option-based offense due to injuries.  Cole led the way for true freshman Dumas to lead the team in rushing, and Cole ended up scoring on a 75-yard run against UNLV, UNM’s longest play from scrimmage last year.  Radson Jang, a 245-pound offensive lineman who because UNM’s starting center at the end of the season won the First Team Lobo Club Award for Unselfish Devotion.

The three Scout Team MVP awards went to Nate Jones on offense, Keith Alvarado on defense and Michael Buckley on special teams.  Jones redshirted the 2021 season after a terrific true freshmen campaign as a running back.  Alvarado, a defensive lineman from Eldorado has a chance to see his first collegiate action in 2022.  Buckley, a walk-on from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., broke into the lineup for the season finale, returning a kickoff 32 yards.

2021 New Mexico Football Award Winners
Bill Brannin Most Valuable Player Award: Joey Noble
Col. H.J. Golightly Defensive MVP Award: Joey Noble
Reese Hill Offensive MVP Award: Aaron Dumas
Special Teams MVP Award: Luke Wysong
Clyde Hill Most Improved Player Award: Tavian Combs
Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award: Kyle Stapley
Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award: Joey Noble
Chuck Cummings Morale & Spirit/Most Inspirational Award: Bobby Cole
First Team Lobo Club Award for Unselfish Devotion: Radson Jang
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Nate Jones
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Keith Alvarado
Special Teams Scout Team Player of Year: Michael Buckley