Iyiegbuniwe, Ray named first team all-Conference USA

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Western Kentucky had 15 players earn spots on the all-Conference USA teams as voted on by league coaches, the conference announced Tuesday.

The Hilltoppers (6-6) have had at least that many in all four years as a league member with 15 in the program's inaugural CUSA season in 2014, 17 in 2015 and a program-record 21 in 2016.

Linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe and left guard Brandon Ray each earned their first appearances on the first team. Iyiegbuniwe improved from honorable mention in 2016 while Ray was previously on the 2014 CUSA all-freshman team. They were two of the six Hilltoppers who started all 12 games this season.

Iyiegbuniwe had 105 tackles (which led WKU, while ranking fifth in CUSA and tied for 36th in the nation) – including a team-high nine for loss – with three forced fumbles. The Bowling Green native made double-digit tackles in four games including a career-high 15 in back-to-back weeks at Marshall and vs. Middle Tennessee.

Ray made his 53rd career – and consecutive – start at Florida International on Nov. 24 setting the all-time WKU program record for starts by an offensive or defensive player. The Madison, Ala., native helped lead the Hilltoppers to the best passing offense in CUSA (334 yards per game) and the No. 9 passing offense in the country.

Quarterback Mike White was voted to the second team for the second-consecutive year, after producing 79.8 percent of WKU's total offense through the air. He passed for 3,826 yards with 24 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions.

The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native threw for 300-plus yards in each of the past seven games, with 22 touchdowns in that span. Since 2016, White's 8,189 yards and 622 completions are the second-most nationally.

Safety Devon Key, long snapper Ben Reeder and right guard Tyler Witt represent the Hilltoppers on the all-freshman team after WKU had running back Quinton Baker voted to the squad last season.

Key made 85 tackles (which led WKU defensive backs) – including four for loss - with an interception and a pair of pass breakups. Reeder made all 107 (54 punting and 53 place-kicking) snaps without issue, including a pair of successful trick play snaps. Witt, meanwhile, earned his second league honor in the past week after being named to the CUSA all-academic team for his work in the classroom.

The Hilltoppers picked up 10 all-conference honorable mention accolades: Three on offense, four on defense and three specialists.

After second team honors in 2016, cornerback Joe Brown, punter Jake Collins and receiver Kylen Towner earned honorable mention for their 2017 performances. For back-to-back seasons, defensive tackle Chris Johnson was honorable mention while Nacarius Fant earned honorable Mention as a wide receiver after earning first team punt returner status in 2016.

Finally, cornerback DeAndre Farris, safety Drell Greene, receiver Lucky Jackson, Reeder and tight end Deon Yelder earned honorable mention for the first time.