The Fresno State Bulldogs received their Mountain West Conference football championship rings on Friday at their annual awards banquet; big, bright numbers with a Bulldogs logo prominently featured in the middle.
"They're blingy," coach Tim DeRuyter said with a smile.
Running back Robbie Rouse, who set the school career record for rushing yards, was honored as the team's most valuable player, and linebackers Tristan Okpalaugo, Shawn Plummer and Jeremiah Toma, punter Andrew Shapiro, quarterback Derek Carr, strong safety Phillip Thomas, running back Josh Quezada and defensive end Matt Akers also won individual awards.
Akers, a senior who had started all 13 games in 2011 as an undersized defensive end, lost his chance to play, much less start, when the Bulldogs switched to a 3-4 from the 4-3 and spent the last half of the season preparing true freshman Alex Fifita to start week to week at right tackle. Akers was honored as the defensive scout team player of the year, with thanks from the staff: "He had as big a role in us winning those last five of the regular season as anyone," offensive line coach Cameron Norcross said.
Akers in practice went at Fifita on every rep -- he was working with the first and second teams to get as much work as possible -- using his quickness to get the freshman used to the speed of the game at the Division I level.