The Mountain West enjoyed a banner day in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Three players from the conference were taken in the first round – Wyoming QB Josh Allen No. 7 to Buffalo, Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch No. 19 to Dallas and San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny No. 27 to Seattle.
The conference that includes Air Force and Colorado State and is headquartered near I-25 and Interquest in Colorado Springs joined the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC as the only conferences with at least three picks in Thursday’s first round. No other Group of 5 conference had more than one.
“We congratulate Josh, Leighton, Rashaad, their families, coaches and teammates on a remarkable achievement,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a press release. “To be selected in any round of the NFL Draft is special, but to be selected in the first round is extraordinary.
“This is also a great night for the Mountain West, as it shows the tremendous level of play and outstanding coaching you find throughout our Conference. Coming out of high school, Josh, Leighton and Rashaad arrived at their respective Mountain West campuses without a great deal of fanfare. A few years later, they stand shoulder to shoulder with the premier players in college football – and that’s due to their hard work, determination, coaching and level of competition they found at Wyoming, Boise State and San Diego State, respectively.”
Air Force went 0-3 against those teams this year. Allen went 8-for-11 passing for 70 yards and had one touchdown throwing, one running before leaving a 28-14 victory with an injury. Vander Esch made six tackles in a 44-19 victory. Penny ran 20 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-24 win in soggy conditions at Falcon Stadium.