ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As expected, the New Mexico Lobos were sparsely represented on the 2010 All-Mountain West Conference football team. That’s what happens when you go 1-11.
The good news for UNM: Of the five Lobos recognized, four have eligibility remaining.
Sophomore tight end Lucas Reed was the only Lobo to make the All-MWC first team in voting by the league’s nine head coaches and selected members of the news media.
Junior linebacker Carmen Messina, a first-team choice last season, was a second-team pick this time.
Senior offensive tackle Byron Bell, junior place-kicker James Aho and junior safety Bubba Forrest received honorable mention.
The top annual awards went to:
• Andy Dalton, TCU quarterback, offensive player of the year.
• Tank Carder, TCU linebacker, defensive player of the year.
• Jeremy Kerley, TCU wide receiver/kick returner, special-teams player of the year.
• Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State running back, freshman of the year.
• Brady Hoke, San Diego State, coach of the year.
Reed, a 6-foot-6, 232-pounder from Tucson, led all MWC tight ends with 33 pass receptions for 459 yards and five touchdowns.
“I still feel Lucas is just scratching the surface in terms of his production,” UNM coach Mike Locksley said. “As we move forward with our program offensively and get some consistency at quarterback, I think you’ll see him continue to get better.”
Messina, a 6-2, 238-pounder from Addison, Ill., struggled all season with a high ankle sprain suffered in the opener at Oregon. He also suffered a hamstring injury late in the year, yet still led the Mountain West in total tackles with 115.
“From a production standpoint,” Locksley said, “knowing what Carmen battled all year long, for him to make second-team all-conference in this league speaks volumes.”
Locksley said he believes Bell, a 6-5, 325-pounder from Greenville, Texas, played well enough to merit more than honorable mention.
“Byron made huge strides (this season),” Locksley said, “and I think he has a bright future playing at the next level.”
Aho was the most accurate kicker in the Mountain West, going 8-for-9 on field-goal attempts and a perfect 22-of-22 on PATs. But the Roswell High School graduate got far fewer opportunities than did some of his MWC counterparts.
“I looked at the statistics when I voted, and he had half the kicks of some of the top guys,” Locksley said. “… He’s a respected guy in this league, and we just have to find ways to get him more opportunities as we progress offensively.”
Forrest, a 6-1, 205-pounder from Carlsbad, led the Lobos in tackles early in the season while Messina was struggling with injuries. Forrest battled his own high ankle sprain later in the fall, yet finished with 100 tackles and made several touchdown-saving plays.
“He’d get treatment all week long, miss practices, then show up on game day and have 10, 11 tackles,” Locksley said. “Bubba’s a valuable, valuable member of our defense.”