Running back Jhurell Pressley has been named the University of New Mexico football team’s most valuable player for the just-completed 2014 season.
The presentation was made at UNM’s postseason banquet, held Sunday evening at the Embassy Suites.
Pressley, a junior from Newcastle, Del., rushed for 1,083 yards on 114 carries and scored 14 touchdowns. His average per carry of 9.5 yards is the best in UNM history and is believed to be the best in the nation this year, though he didn’t have the 10 carries per game needed to qualify in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision statistics.
A sprained ankle suffered in the Boise State game on Nov. 8 limited his carries the rest of the season. Because of the sprained ankle, Pressley carried the ball only once for 1 yard in the Lobos’ Nov. 15 game at Utah State. Had he not played in that game, he would have averaged 10.3 carries and qualified for the NCAA statistics.
Pressley’s performances helped UNM average 310 yards rushing per game, fourth-best in the nation.
The Lobos’ most valuable player award is named for the late Bill Brannin, a former UNM player (1933-35) and a longtime supporter of the program.
Pressley also won the Reese Hill Offensive Most Valuable Player Award.
“He’s special,” UNM coach Bob Davie said of Pressley before the Lobos’ final game of the season – a 36-30 victory over Wyoming, during which Pressley rushed for 101 yards on 11 carries and had a 69-yard touchdown run. “He does some things that other people can’t do.
“The sky’s the limit for him.”
Center LaMar Bratton was presented the Chuck Cummings Most Inspirational Player Award. Bratton, a fifth-year senior from Riverside, Calif., started 49 consecutive games for UNM.
Linebacker Dakota Cox won the Colonel H.J. Golightly Defensive Most Valuable Player Award. Cox, a sophomore from Draper, Utah, led the nation with an average of 12.9 tackles per game. He missed the team’s final three games after suffering a serious knee injury against Boise State.
Other awards went to:
⋄ Punter/kicker Zack Rogers, Outstanding Special Teams Player Award. It was announced that Rogers, a walk-on from Rio Rancho, has been awarded a scholarship.
⋄ Quarterback Lamar Jordan, the Clyde Hill Most Improved Player Award.
⋄ Linebacker Trajuan Briggs and wide receiver Tyler Duncan, First-Team Award (unselfish devotion to team).
⋄ Defensive back Tayo Adewon, Most Valuable Defensive Scout Team Player.
⋄ Wide receiver Matt Quarrels, Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Player.
⋄ Pressley, Red Menace Award (presented by the UNM fan website).
⋄ Defensive end Randy Williams, the New Mexico Man Award (presented to an in-state non-scholarship player). Williams, a junior from Volcano Vista, also has been awarded a scholarship.
⋄ Tight end Reece White, a Cleveland High graduate, the Academic Achievement Award.
⋄ Linebacker Tevin Newman, the Academic Most Improved Award.
⋄ Bratton, the Big Brother of the Year Award.
New Mexico finished the season with a 4-8 record. The Lobos were 2-6 in Mountain West Conference play.