Nevada quarterback Carson Strong earned the Mountain West offensive player of the year award for the second consecutive season, the conference announced Tuesday. Strong becomes the fourth quarterback and fifth player in Mountain History — the first since San Diego State tailback Donnell Pumphrey (2015-16) — to earn the award in back-to-back seasons.
Here’s a list of the five back-to-back award winners, with the other four going on to get drafted and play at least one game in the NFL:
- Bradlee Van Pelt, QB, Colorado State (2002-03)
- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU (2009-10)
- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (2012-13)
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB, SDSU (2015-16)
- Carson Strong, QB, Nevada (2020-21)
A year after setting the Mountain West on fire in the Pack’s COVID-shortened 2020 season, Strong followed suit by engineering one of the nation’s best passing attacks — which ranked fourth in the FBS in passing (365.8 ypg) — and recorded one of Nevada’s strongest (pun unintended) single season statistical stat lines in program history.
The 6-foot-4 signal caller led the Mountain West in a bevy of categories, including completion percentage (70.0), passing yards (4,175) and touchdowns (36). He was second in passer rating (156.7) and third in yards per attempt (8.0).
“So happy for Carson (Strong). He’s so deserving of the Player of the Year Award,” Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said via press release. “He played outstanding last year and this year he took it to another level. I think he’s not only one of the best quarterbacks but one of the best players in the country.”
Strong surpassed quarterback Chris Vargas for most passing touchdowns in a single season in school history (34), which he held for nearly three decades (1993), and is currently 90 yards short of Vargas’ school-record the most passing yards in a single season (4,265).
In 2021, Strong posted a conference-most nine 300-yard passing performances with two 400-yard games, including a career-high 476 yards (with four touchdowns) against Fresno State on Oct. 23.
His nine 300-yard outings are the most for a Pack quarterback in a single season since Vargas recorded nine in 1993, tying the most in Pack history. Strong’s tallied 17 career 300-yard performances in 31 career starts, going 12-5 in such games and 20-11 in his career.
Strong’s outstanding season has helped lead Nevada to an 8-4 record and its fourth straight bowl game, which won’t be determined until Sunday, Dec. 5.