The Mountain West Conference recently announced its All-Conference teams, individual honors, and honorable mentions for the 2021 football season. To no surprise, UNLV football players took over the list and awards after each had outstanding individual seasons.
Cameron Friel- MW Freshman of the Year
True freshman quarterback Cameron Friel was named Mountain West (MW) Freshman of the Year, which made him the sixth UNLV player to win the honor. Just last year, receiver Kyle Williams was named to the same award making UNLV the first football program in history to have back-to-back MW Freshman of the Year honorees.
Looking back at Friel’s incredible season, he got his first start in week 3 at home against #14 Iowa State where he would then go on to be named the starting quarterback. In week 5 against UTSA, Cameron became the first UNLV quarterback to pass for 200 yards since Max Gilliam in week 2 of the previous season.
In week 6, Friel went on to pass for over 200 yards again against San Jose State while throwing a season-high 71.4% completion rate. After these two back-to-back performances, Cameron was ranked a top 5 PFF (Pro Football Focus) true freshman quarterback in passing for week 6.
In week 9, Friel led his team to their first win in 706 days against New Mexico, throwing 227 yards and 2 touchdowns on a 60% completion rate. This earned Friel MW Freshman of the Week on Nov. 8.
In nine games played this season, Friel threw a 62.4% completion rate, which broke UNLV’s school record for best completion rate by a freshman in a season. Cameron also threw for over 200 yards in four games throughout the season which was one of the stats leading him to win MW Freshman of the Year..
As far as rankings, Cameron ranked fourth among FBS freshmen in completion percentage, seventh in yards per game which he averaged 178.7 yards per game, and 10th in passing yards, which he finished with 1,608 yards for the 2021 season.
“We are incredibly proud of Cameron and the work he put in to earn Mountain West Freshman of the Year,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said in a statement. “Cam’s work ethic, #WeNotMe attitude and toughness define what it takes to be a true UNLV Rebel. His future is bright and we look forward to continuing to develop him.”
Charles Williams- All-Mountain West Football First Team Offense
It came as no surprise that running back Charles Williams was named to the All-MW first team for the 2021 season. Williams was named to the same honor back in 2019, which made him the first UNLV running back to earn the honor twice in a career.
Williams finished his collegiate career this year, finishing at the top of nearly every all-time rushing record at UNLV. Finishing with a total of 4,201 rushing yards, Williams ranks first in FBS among all active players for most career rushing yards. He became only the fourth Mountain West player to reach the 4,000-yard mark.
On top of UNLV’s all-time rushing leaders list sits Williams, who moved into the top spot after the Rebels win against New Mexico. Williams also earned himself the title of “Rushing King” becoming only the second man to hold the title since Mike Thomas became the record-holder in 1974.
Williams also sits fourth in all-time career rushing touchdowns at UNLV with 34. Charles also sits fourth in all-time 100-yard rushing games with a total of 15, in which he led the league. He also sits first in UNLV career rush attempts with 800.
In the 2021 season alone, Williams posted 15 rushing touchdowns, with three coming from UNLV’s home game against Hawai’i alone which earned him MW Offensive Player of the Week. Charles rushed for 1,261 yards on 254 attempts, averaging 5.0 yards per carry which rightly earned him being named to his second All-MW team.
Jacoby Windmon- All-Mountain West Football Second Team Defense
After making a huge leap from his sophomore year to his junior year, linebacker Jacoby Windmon was named to All-MW’s second team for defense. Windmon finished the 2021 season with 118 total tackles with 71 of those being solo tackles.
Windmon also racked up 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 11.5 tackles for loss. In UNLV’s final game of the season against Air Force, Jacoby had a career-high 16 tackles in the game alone.
The previous week against San Diego State, Windmon racked up three quarterback sacks which was the fourth-most in UNLV single-season history and earned him another career-high. After the season, Windmon finished seventh in the nation for solo tackles averaging 5.9 per game and 14th in total tackles.
Named preseason Third Team-All MW by Phil Steele, Windmon was named to All- MW’s second team for his outstanding year at UNLV. After entering the transfer portal a few days ago, Windmon will continue his football career elsewhere after three years with the Rebels.
Austin Ajiake- Honorable Mention
Linebacker Austin Ajiake was one of two Rebels to be named a 2021 honorable mention to the Mountain West Conference football honors this year. In his senior year, Ajiake posted 74 tackles with 43 of them being solo tackles.
In eight games played, Austin also had one quarterback hit, one tackle for loss, and one pass defended. In week 6 against Utah State, Ajiake racked up a career-high 18 tackles. Austin averaged 9.25 tackles-per-game, which ranked him fourth in the Mountain West.
Only nine linebackers from the Mountain West Conference were an honorable mention for this year’s list, Ajiake being named one of the nine and only one from UNLV.
Daniel Gutierrez- Honorable Mention
Senior placekicker Daniel Gutierrez was the second Rebel to be a 2021 honorable mention after having a career year at UNLV. Gutierrez’s career field goal numbers at UNLV are 37-of-45 which ranks him first in school history with a percentage of 82.2.
Dating back to week 1, Gutierrez had a career night knocking down all four of his field-goal attempts, including his then-personal-best 51-yarder, earning him Lou Groza Star of the Week.
Daniel then went on to break UNLV’s school record for most consecutive three-pointers with 16. In week 7 against San José State, Gutierrez broke his career-long field goal record from earlier in the season after he kicked a 53-yard field goal.
From the 2021 season, Daniel kicked 18 field goals, knocking down 16 of them since two were blocked and knocked down all 25 extra-point attempts. Gutierrez finished 13th in the nation with a field goal percentage of 88.9 and 41st in field goals per game.
Onto next season
As the 2021 football season comes to an end and the Mountain West Conference Awards are finished, UNLV football looks ahead to next season. UNLV Football is set to open up the 2022 season on Sept. 3 at Allegiant Stadium against the Idaho State Bengals.
UNLV will play three back-to-back non-conference games spanning from Sept. 3 and ending Sept. 17. The Rebels’ most notable game next season will be on Oct. 22 where they will travel to Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. As far as conference games, the schedule has yet to be announced.