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Top 50 Mountain West players: 33rd is New Mexico DE Nik D'Avanzo

Nik D'Avanzo is expected to be one of the best defenders in the conference.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 version of the Mountain West Connection top 50 football players countdown is here and the 33rd player on the list is New Mexico defensive lineman Nik D'Avanso.

The Lobos defense has not been great over the past few years but they took a step last year to move out of the bottom spot in most categories and they are likely to move up even more this year. D'Avanso is a key reason why the Lobos should have an improved defense.

The media placed D'Avanso in their preseason all-conference team and Phil Steele did the same. Last year, D'Avanso recorded 54 tackles, 8.5 for a loss and half a sack.

Here are the staff picks and composite rankings.

Composite Jeremy Mauss Duane Grasmick Daniel Arbino Matthew Kenerly Brandon Blake erwinism Josh Fredlund DontWarriorBoutIt Terrance Dickens
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13 Teriyon Gipson, UNM, RB Ben Weaver, BSU, LB Teriyon Gipson, UNM, RB
14 Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR
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16 Nik D'Avanso, UNM, DE
17 DJ Dunn, Jr, AFA, LB
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19 Jalen Robinette, AFA, WR
20 Kenny Potter, SJSU, QB Chase Roullier, WYO, OL Nik D'Avanso, UNM, DE
21 Kenny Potter, SJSU, QB
22 Maurice McKnight, SJSU, DB
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24 Malik Smith, SDSU, DB Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB Roland Ladipo, AFA, CB
25 Chase Roullier, WYO, OL Andre Chachere, SJSU, CB Austin Corbett, NEV, OL Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT
26 Jalen Robinette, AFA, WR Ben Weaver, BSU, LB Jake Simonich, USU, T
27 Kendall Keys, UNLV, WR Jalen Robinette, AFA, WR Jake Simonich, USU, T Kendall Keys, UNLV, WR
28 Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB Timothy McVey, AFA, RB Chase Roullier, WYO, OL Chase Roullier, WYO, OL Nik D'Avanzo, UNM, DE Austin Corbett, NEV, OL Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB
29 Devante Mays, USU, RB Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR Devin Centers, USU, FS Devin Centers, USU, FS Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT Nik D'Avanzo, UNM, DE Jalen Robinette, AFA, WR Devante Mays, USU, RB
30 Roland Ladipo, AFA, CB Austin Corbett, NEV, OL Salesa Faraimo, DT, NEV Chase Roullier, WYO, OL
31 Will Kreitler, C, UNLV Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB
32 Jake Simonich, USU, T Jake Simonich, USU, T
33 Nik D'Avanzo, UNM, DE Kevin Davis Jr., CSU, LB Kenny Potter, SJSU, QB Izzy Matthews, CSU, RB Gabe Perez, DE, Boise State Jermaine Kelly, SJSU, LB
34 Chase Roullier, WYO, OL Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR Jalen Davis, USU, DB

Jerico Richardson, NEV, WR

Devante Mays, USU, RB Gabe Perez, DE, Boise State Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR
35 Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB Reno Henderson, UNM, OL Nik D'Avanzo, UNM, DE Jalen Robinette, AFA, WR Jalen Davis, USU, DB Nik D'Avanzo, UNM, DE Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB
36 Jalen Robinette, AFA, WR Nik D'Avanszo, UNM, DE Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR Jarred Gipson, Nev, TE Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT Nik D'Avanzo, UNM, DE
37  Jake Simonich, USU, T Jerico Richardson, NEV, WR Teriyon Gipson, UNM, RB Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT Izzy Matthews, RB, CSU Jamire Jordan, WR,FSU Jalen Davis, USU, DB Jake Simonich, USU, T Jerico Richardson, NEV, WR
38 Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT Mike Hughes, UNLV, LB Gabe Perez, BSU, DL Jermaine Kelly, SJSU, LB Devante Mays, USU, RB Mike Hughes, UNLV, LB
39 Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR* (Ineligible) Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT Jermaine Kelly, SJSU, DB Dylan Sumner-Gardner, BSU, S Asauni Rufus, Nev, SS Devante Mays, USU, RB Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB Devante Mays, USU, RB Ricky Ali'ifua, USU, DT
39 Devante Mays, USU, RB Jamire Jordan, FSU, WR Jamire Jordan, WR, FSU Jarred Gipson, Nev, TE Izzy Matthews, RB CSU Austin Corbett, NEV, OL
39 Teriyon Gipson, UNM, RB Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB Tyler Rausa, K, Boise St Arthur Flores, SDSU, OL Travis Averill, Boise St, OG Ben Weaver, BSU, LB Reno Henderson, UNM, OL
42 Ben Weaver, BSU, LB Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR Jonathan Moxey, BSU, CB Tyler Winston, SJSU, WR Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR
43 Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR Johnny Stanton, UNLV, QB Jarred Gipson, NEV, TE Jake Simonich, USU, T Malik Smith, SDSU, FS Tanner Gentry, WYO, WR Dylan Sumner-Gardner, BSU, DB
44 Jalen Davis, USU, DB Malik Smith, SDSU, FS Asauni Rufus, NEV, DB Ben Weaver, BSU, LB Dylan Sumner-Gardner, BSU, S Travis Averill, G, Boise St Christian Chapman, SDSU, QB Jerico Richardson, NEV, WR Malik Smith, SDSU, FS
45 Jerico Richardson, NEV, WR DJ Dunn, AFA, LB Teriyon Gipson, UNM, RB Mike Hughes, DT, UNLV Josh Lovingood, CSU, DT Kevin Davis Jr., CSU, LB
46 Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB Dylan Sumner-Gardner, BSU, DB
Ben Weaver, BSU, LB Kevin Davis Jr., CSU, LB
47 Kenny Potter, SJSU, QB DJ Dunn, LB, AFA Gabe Perez, BSU, DE DJ Dunn, LB, AFA Jerico Richardson, NEV, WR Malik Smith, SDSU, DB
48  Kevin Davis Jr., CSU, LB Marcus Kemp, UH, WR Kwayde Miller, T, SDSU Malik Smith, SDSU, FS Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB
49 Malik Smith, DB, SDSU Jalen Davis, USU, DB Austin Corbett, NEV, OL Jesse Washington, AFA, DB Marcus Kemp, UH, WR Josh Lovingood, CSU, DT
50 DJ May, WYO, LB Jake Simonich, USU, T Michael Carrizosa, P, SJSU Dalyn Dawkins, CSU, RB Teriyon Gipson, UNM, RB Chase Roullier, WYO, OL