University of Idaho football coach Paul Petrino, who led the Vandals to one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the nation over the past four seasons, was voted the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, while junior defensive tackle Aikeem Coleman and senior kicker/punter Austin Rehkow share the spotlight with him.

Aikeem is the league’s Newcomer of the Year and Rehkow is a first-team choice at punter and a second-team selection at kicker. Joining them as post-season honorees are junior quarterback Matt Linehan, senior center Steven Matlock and senior defensive lineman Tueni Lupeamanu as second-team choices. Coleman also is a second-team selection.

Earning honorable mention recognition are senior tight end Buck Cowan, junior offensive lineman Jordan Rose, and sophomore linebackers Kaden Elliss and Tony Lashley. True freshman offensive lineman Noah Johnson, who earned a starting role just a couple months after his high school graduation, is on the all-newcomer team.

Petrino’s transformation of the Vandal football program started in December of 2012 when he was hired to take over a team that was 3-21 over the previous two seasons. In his first year, Idaho was 1-11 as an independent before returning to the Sun Belt Conference in 2014 where it finished 1-10. The progress on the field started to show in 2015 when the Vandals finished 4-8 and had three losses by a touchdown or less.

His work in progress was finely tuned in 2016. After starting the season 1-2, which includes a loss to No. 4 Washington, the Vandals turned the corner with a thrilling overtime victory at UNLV. They went on to win six of their last eight games to finish tied for third in the Sun Belt with a 6-2 league mark; 8-4 overall. They’re making their first bowl appearance since 2009 when they take on Colorado State in the Dec. 22 Idaho Famous Potato Bowl.

As much as progress is clear on the field, so, too, is it off. The team’s APR jumped more than 100 points from 2012-13 to this fall, and its grade-point average climbed from a cumulative 2.24 to 2.88.

Coleman’s imprint on the defense was noted throughout the league. He led the Vandals with 11 tackles for loss for -51 yards – totals that include a team-leading eight sacks for -45 yards. He proved a menace in the backfield with seven quarterback hurries in addition to two pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

Rehkow has been a stellar kicker and punter throughout his Vandal career. He leaves Idaho with school records in punting average (46.3), field goals attempted (92), field goals made (70) and field goal percentage (.761). He has been watch-listed and among the frontrunners of the Ray Guy (punter) and Lou Groza (kicker) awards and was a Walter Camp All-American twice.

Lupeamanu finishes his Vandal career as one of the most productive defensive linemen in school history. He is second in sacks (five) and quarterback hurries (five), and third on the team in total tackles (71) and tackles for loss (eight). His tackle total is the best among defensive linemen nationally.

Linehan continues to make his mark as one of the league’s top quarterbacks and is one of the best in school history. He is in the top five in five Idaho career passing categories – with one game and a full season yet to play. His 476 passing yards against New Mexico State in October are fifth most in school history.

Matlock made the transition to center two seasons ago and has become a leader among the offensive line with his intensity, competitiveness and knowledge of the game. A member of Petrino’s first recruiting class, he was called off grayshirt and pressed into service as a true freshmen in 2013. He spent two seasons at guard before make the move to center.

First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Offense

Brandon Silvers (Troy, Junior, QB)

Jalin Moore (App State, Sophomore, RB)

Jordan Chunn (Troy, Junior, RB)

Robert Davis (Georgia State, Senior, WR)

Al Riles (Louisiana, Senior, WR)

Emanuel Thompson (Troy, Junior, WR)

Gerald Everett (South Alabama, Senior, TE)

Parker Collins (App State, Senior, OL)

Colby Gossett (App State, Junior, OL)

Jemar Clark (A-State, Senior, OL)

Andy Kwon (GS, Senior, OL)

Antonio Garcia (Troy, Senior, OL)


First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Defense

Chris Odom (A-State, Senior, DL)

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (A-State, Junior, DL)

Randy Allen (South Alabama, Senior, DL)

Rashad Dillard (Troy, Senior, DL)

Ironhead Gallon (GS, Senior, LB)

Otha Peters (Louisiana, Senior, LB)

Rodney Butler (NM State, Senior, LB)

Clifton Duck (App State, Freshman, DB)

Mondo Williams (App State, Senior, DB)

Money Hunter (A-State, Senior, DB)

Bobby Baker (Georgia State, Senior, DB)

Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama, Junior, DB)


First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Special Teams

Younghoe Koo (GS, Senior, PK)

Austin Rehkow (Idaho, Senior, P)

Jabir Frye (Troy, Freshman, RS)

Jordan Chunn (Troy, Junior, AP)


Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Offense

Matt Linehan (Idaho, Junior, QB)

Marcus Cox (App State, Senior, RB)

Elijah McGuire (Louisiana, Senior, RB)

Shaedon Meadors (App State, Junior, WR)

Josh Magee (South Alabama, Senior, WR)

Deondre Douglas (Troy, Sophomore, WR)

Blake Mack (A-State, Junior, TE)

Beau Nunn (App State, Senior, OL)

Colton Jackson (A-State, Senior, OL)

Steven Matlock (Idaho, Senior, OL)

Jeff Savage (ULM, Senior, OL)

Tyler Lassiter (Troy, Senior, OL)


Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Defense

Dezmin Reed (App State, Senior, DL)

Tee Sims (App State, Junior, DL)

Aikeem Coleman (Idaho, Junior, DL)

Tueni Lupeamanu (Idaho, Senior, DL)

Joe Dillon (Louisiana, Freshman, DL)

Eric Boggs (App State, Junior, LB)

Kennan Gilchrist (App State, Senior, LB)

Xavier Woodson-Luster (A-State, Senior, LB)

Cody Brown (A-State, Senior, DB)

Justin Clifton (A-State, Sophomore, DB)

Jaden Wright (NM State, Junior, DB)

Jalen Rountree (Troy, Senior, DB)


Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Special Teams

Austin Rehkow (Idaho, Senior, PK)

Brandon McKee (South Alabama, Senior, P)

Blaise Taylor (A-State, Junior, RS)

Warren Wand (A-State, Sophomore, AP)


Player of the Year

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (A-State, Junior, DL)


Offensive Player of the Year

Jalin Moore (App State, Sophomore, RB)


Defensive Player of the Year

Rashad Dillard (Troy, Senior, DL)


Freshman of the Year

Clifton Duck (App State, Freshman, DB)


Newcomer of the Year

Aikeem Coleman (Idaho, Junior, DL)


Coach of the Year

Paul Petrino, Idaho


All-Sun Belt Conference Honorable Mention

Barrett Burns (App State, Sr., TE)

A.J. Howard (App State, So. DB)

Taylor Lamb (App State, Jr., QB)

Myquon Stout (App State, So,. DL)

Justice Hansen (Arkansas State, So., QB)

Chris Humes (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)
Waylon Roberson (Arkansas State, Sr., DL)
Kendall Sanders (Arkansas State, Sr. WR)

Kevin Ellison (Georgia Southern, DB, Sr., QB)

Darius Jones, Jr. (Georgia Southern, Sr., CB)

Ukeme Eligwe (Georgia Southern, Jr., LB)

BJ Johnson III (Georgia Southern, Sr., WR)

Shawanye Lawrence (Georgia State, Senior, DL)

Alonzo McGee (Georgia State, Senior, LB)

Keith Rucker (Georgia State, Senior, TE)

Chandon Sullivan (Georgia State, Junior, DB)

Trent Cowan (Idaho, Sr., Tight end)

Kaden Elliss (Idaho, So., Linebacker)

Tony Lashley (Idaho, So., Linebacker)

Jordan Rose (Idaho, Jr., Offensive line)

Keenan Barnes (Louisiana, So., WR)
Karmichael Dunbar (Louisiana, Sr., DL)
Eddie Gordon (Louisiana, Sr., OL)

Tre'maine Lightfoot (Louisiana, Sr., LB)
Justin Backus (ULM, Sr., DB)

David Griffith (ULM, So., LB)

Ajalen Holley (ULM, Sr., WR)

Frank Sutton, Jr. (ULM, Jr., OL)

Kourtland Busby (NM State, Jr., DL)

Greg Hogan (NM State, RJr., WR)

Anthony McMeans (NM State, Sr., OL)

Tyler Rogers (NM State, Sr., QB)
Roman Buchanan (South Alabama, Sr., LB)

Kalen Jackson (South Alabama, Sr., DB)

Xavier Johnson (South Alabama, Jr., RB/RS)

Kevin Kutchera (South Alabama, Sr., WR)

Ryan Kay (Troy, Sr., PK)

William Lloyd (Troy, Sr., LB)

Kamryn Melton (Troy, Jr., DB)

Baron Poole (Troy, Jr., DL)

Aaron Brewer (Texas State, Fr., OL)

Bryan London (Texas State, RS Fr., LB)

Gabe Loyd (Texas State, Jr., LB)

Jordan Mittie (Texas State, RS Fr., DE)


2016 Sun Belt Conference Newcomer Team

Vic Johnson (App State, Fr., OL)

Kyle Wilson (Arkansas State, Jr., LB)

Ukeme Eligwe (GS, Jr., LB)

Conner Manning (Georgia State, Jr., QB)

Noah Johnson (Idaho, Fr., OL)

Kevin Dotson (Louisiana, Fr., OL)

Dayton Balvantz (ULM, Sr., P)

Sage Doxtater (NM State, Fr., OL)

Kris Weatherspoon (Troy, Jr., DB)
Darrell Songy (South Alabama, Jr., LB)

Bryan London (Texas State, RS Fr., LB)