BOISE, Idaho ( KMVT / KSVT ) Just because you play for a small high school, doesn't mean you can't achieve your dreams at the Division I level.
Salmon River graduate Leighton Vander Esch proved himself not just at Boise State, but the Mountain West Conference.
On Wednesday, the conference honored him with Defensive Player of the Year honors. The former walk-on marks the first Bronco to receive this honor since Glenns Ferry graduate Korey Hall in 2006.
At the time, Boise State was a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
Vander Esch boasts a team-high 113 tackles, plus two interceptions, three forced fumbles and three sacks.
His stats put him 24th in the FBS and third in the Mountain West.
Broncos on the Mountain West First-Team:
Redshirt senior center Mason Hampton, redshirt tight end Jake Roh, and senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson on offense, and Vander Esch, junior cornerback Tyler Horton, and redshirt freshman STUD Curtis Weaver on defense. Weaver's selection also marks the first time in Mountain West history that a freshman has earned first-team defense honors.
Broncos on the Mountain West Second-Team:
Redshirt senior offensive lineman Archie Lewis and junior quarterback Brett Rypien on offense, redshirt junior STUD Jabril Frazier, redshirt defensive lineman David Moa, and sophomore safety Kekoa Nawahine on defense, and redshirt freshman PR/KR Avery Williams on special teams.
Broncos on the Honorable Mention Team: Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland, redshirt junior kicker Haden Hoggarth, sophomore running back Alexander Mattison, sophomore linebacker Tyson Maeva, junior defensive lineman Durrant Miles, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman John Molchon, and sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce.