Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch became the first Bronco in program history to earn Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors, the conference announced on Wednesday.

Vander Esch stepped into a starting for the first time in his career this fall and posted one of the best all-around seasons his school history. He currently ranks third in the Mountain West in tackles (113) and is tied for third with three forced fumbles. Vander Esch has also recorded 5.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks, and has two interceptions, tied for second most on the team.

GAME DAY GUIDE: Mountain West Championship

“It's a great honor,” said Vander Esch. “I have to thank everybody around me. My teammates and coaches, ever since I've got here they've done everything they can for me. For me to go out and apply it on the field and to put myself in this position, it's pretty neat. I can't say anything else other than I'm super honored.”

🏈113 tackles
🏈5.5 tackles-for-loss
🏈3.0 sacks
🏈2 interceptions

— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) November 29, 2017

The redshirt junior came to Boise State as a walk-on out of Salmon River High School in Riggins in 2014. He redshirted that initial year, and was then put on scholarship in 2015.

After Vander Esch was limited to just six games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, he is one of seven Broncos that have started every game this fall.