Rifle’s Moeller earns first team All-Pac-12 honors | PostIndependent.com

Rifle’s Moeller earns first team All-Pac-12 honors

Former Rifle Bear Ryan Moeller, a walk-on at Colorado, earned First Team All-Pac 12 honors Tuesday, due to his standout special teams play during the 2016 regular season.

Former Rifle Bear Ryan Moeller, a walk-on at Colorado, earned First Team All-Pac 12 honors Tuesday, due to his standout special teams play during the 2016 regular season.

Ryan Moeller, a former football standout at Rifle High School, was named to this season’s first team All-Pac-12 list as special teams player.

Moeller, a junior who played defensive back as well as special teams for the Colorado Buffaloes this year, recorded nine total tackles on special teams, finishing second on the team. He also forced six fair catches on punts while serving as a gunner on special teams.

In addition to his special teams play, Moeller played on 391 snaps on defense while making eight starts as a nickle back/outside linebacker. He recorded 36 tackles with two for a loss, forced two fumbles, had one pass breakup, created one quarterback pressure and forced one third-down stop, including a big forced fumble last week against Utah.

“We’re just so incredibly proud of him,” Rifle Coach Damon Wells said. “Two of the best things from this are that there were many naysayers across the state who didn’t feel he could compete at this level, which he sure did prove them wrong. And the other thing is that hopefully he’s contributing to the body of work for Western Slope kids, generating more exposure.

“At 17 years old he was told he couldn’t make it at this level, and he didn’t want to hear any of it,” Wells said. “He’s achieved everything he has in the Pac-12 due to hard work and determination. To be rewarded like this is pretty neat for him, especially when considering he’s competing against Stanford, USC, UCLA. … It’s just so remarkable and we couldn’t be any prouder of him.”

Moeller’s play helped Colorado make the biggest overall turnaround in Pac-12 Conference history, improving from a 1-8 conference record in 2015 to an 8-1 conference record and Pac-12 South title this year under Head Coach Mike MacIntyre.

Due to the turnaround, MacIntyre was named the conference’s coach of the year as 16 total Colorado players earned all-conference honors. Moeller was one of only two players on the team to garner first-team recognition. Five players from the team were second-team selections with another nine named honorable mention.

With the Pac-12 South title, the Buffaloes will face Washington Friday night at Levi’s Stadium — home of the San Francisco 49ers — in the Pac-12 Championship game, which will help decide who the top four teams for the College Football Playoff will be.

While at Rifle High School, Moeller excelled both ways for the Bears. He was the second leading rusher in the state and seventh in the nation in 2012 with 3,002 yards and 43 touchdowns while averaging 11 yards per carry. Moeller also hauled in five passes for 209 yards (41.8 yards per catch) with three more touchdowns. He scored a total of 50 touchdowns that year, with two more on interception returns and two on punt returns. Defensively he picked off eight passes and totaled 57 tackles (39 solo) with two forced fumbles, and two pass deflections.

That 2012 season he was chosen first team All-Colorado from the Denver Post and first team 3A All-State. He was also 3A state player of the year and a second team All-American (small school division) by Max Preps.

For his high school career, he rushed for 7,043 yards and 84 touchdowns, averaging 10.1 yards per carry. He had a total of 93 touchdowns scored when including those he scored on punt returns, kickoff returns and pick sixes.