As of Friday, December 1, 2017
Salmon River High School alum Leighton Vander Esch became the third Boise State player to earn one of the Mountain West Conference's main football awards. As the 2017 defensive player of the year, Vander Esch's name was listed alongside the names of Kellen Moore (2011 Offensive Player of the Year) and Brett Rypien (2015 Freshman of the Year), in the conference's announcement Nov. 29.
Vander Esch led the Broncos to their second conference championship appearance, during which BSU will host Fresno State this Saturday, Dec. 2. The game is scheduled for broadcast on ESPN at 4:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m. MT).
As a defensive captain, junior linebacker and Boise State's leading tackler, Vander Esch finished the regular season with 113 total tackles (third most in the league). His total includes six games with 10 or more tackles, including a career-best 16 tackles at nationally-ranked Washington State on Sept. 9, the conference announced. His per-game average ranks 24th in the nation. As a unit, the Boise State defense held opponents to 124.9 yards rushing per game, a mark that ranks 19th nationally, the conference also noted.