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Nevada Football: Ten players receive preseason All-Conference honors from Athlon Sports

NCAA Football: UNLV at Nevada David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

Athlon Sports released its 2020 preseason All-Mountain West teams Wednesday. Ten Nevada Wolf Pack members placed on the rosters.

Even though the final awards are divided up into two main teams (first, second team) with an honorable mention team, Athlon Sports divided the group into four separate teams (first, second, third, fourth team) with no honorable mention.

Here is a look at the ten Wolf Pack selections:

First Team:

Second Team:

Third Team:

Fourth Team:

Peterson earned All-Mountain West first team honors as a sophomore last season, tallying 40 tackles. He recorded nine sacks and 15.0 tackles-for-loss, both team highs. Peterson finished second in the conference in both categories behind reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and 2020 fifth-round pick Curtis Weaver (Boise State).

Talton, who earned All-Mountain West second team honors as a true freshman last year, nailed 21-of-25 field goals, including his first 13 without a miss. His 21 field goals were the third-most in the conference and are tied for third-most in a single season in school history. He was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on three occasions, including after a week one 34-31 win versus Purdue, when Talton drilled a 56-yard game-winning field goal at the end of regulation to complete Nevada’s 17-point comeback. His 56-yarder was the longest ever by a freshman in Mountain West History and the second-longest field goal on the year from a Mountain West kicker (Jake Koehnke - AFA: 57 yards vs. Utah State).

NCAA Football: Purdue at Nevada
Nevada Wolf Pack kicker Brandon Talton is celebrates his game-winning field goal against the Purdue Boilermakers.
David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

Doubs earned All-Mountain West honorable mention honors last season. He led Nevada in yards per reception (14.8 avg) and ranked second with 44 receptions, 649 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Doubs registered four games with 70-plus receiving yards and two with 100-plus receiving yards. His two 100-plus yard games were 146 yards (on five catches) versus San Jose State and a career-high 167 yards (on 11 catches) versus New Mexico. His 167-yard performance was the ninth-most by any Mountain West receiver in a single game last season. Doubs had Nevada’s longest touchdown of the year: a 75-yard catch-and-run to open the second half versus San Jose State.

Taua entered 2019 as the reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year, the first Pack football player to earn an “of the year” award since joining the Mountain West in 2012. He also earned All-Mountain West honorable mention honors, leading Nevada with 807 yards on 196 carries (4.1 ypc) with six rushing scores. Taua totaled two games with 100-plus rushing yards, including a season-high 160 rushing yards on a career-high 34 carries with a rushing score versus San Jose State. His final triple-digit rushing performance came against Fresno State — tallying 135 yards on 20 carries and scoring the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left in regulation. Taua carried the load in the backfield last season, tallying double-digit carries in all but two games and 15-plus carries in seven games.

Cooks, despite failing to make an All-Mountain West team last year, was arguably Nevada’s best receiver and could potentially be a 2021 NFL Draft candidate. In a breakout 2019 campaign, Cooks posted team-highs in receptions (76), receiving yards (926) and touchdowns (8) — all career highs. He was Strong’s favorite target, catching at least three passes in 12 of his 13 games and had five-plus receptions eight times. His 12.2 receptions per game ranked fourth in the conference and his 71.2 receiving yards per game ranked seventh.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Nevada v Ohio
Wide receiver Elijah Cooks #4 of the Nevada Wolf Pack catches a long pass over the defense of corner back Xavior Motley #24 of the Ohio Bobcats.
Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Cooks was nothing short of dominant in the final five games — hauling in 40 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns. In Nevada’s final two contests alone, the 6-foot-4 wideout totaled a jaw-dropping 26 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-high 14 catches for 197 yards and one score in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl versus Ohio. His 14 catches tied a Nevada bowl record, set by Alex Van Dyke in the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl versus Toledo. Cooks’ 197 yards set a new Wolf Pack bowl record, eclipsing Van Dyke’s 176 yards in that same 1995 contest.

Brown started all 13 games at right tackle and was a staple on the Wolf Pack’s offensive line last year. He was named the team’s Basalite Big Blocker of the Year. Brown helped anchor an offensive line that blocked for Taua, who made the All-Mountain honorable mention team, and an offense that ranked in the top half of the conference in passing yards per game.

Hall posted his best season to date with the Wolf Pack in 2019 as he finished the year tied for second on the defense with 58 total tackles, a career high. He totaled 3.0 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks and added two interceptions on the year. His two interceptions — the second-most on the team — coming against UTEP and Fresno State. Hall registered at least six tackles in five games, including a career-best eight tackles twice versus UTEP and Weber State.

Muhammad, who was granted a sixth season of eligibility in March, returned from an injury-plagued 2018 season and was one of the Pack’s top cornerbacks in 2019. He recorded a career-best 58 total tackles on the year (previous career-high was 13) which also ranked second on the team. Additionally, he posted six pass breakups and added 2.5 tackles-for-loss, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

In his redshirt freshman season, Strong served as Nevada’s primary starting quarterback, appearing and starting in 10 contests. He completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,335 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Strong averaged 233.5 passing yards per game, good for fifth in the Mountain West in 2019. In the season-opener, which happened to be his first-ever collegiate start, the 6-foot-4 quarterback helped Nevada knock off Purdue to start the season in a come-from-behind effort. In the contest, he went 30-for-51 (58.8 percent) for 295 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. On the season, Strong threw for 300-plus yards three separate times and 400-plus once. The 400-yard performance came against Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — throwing for 402 yards on 31-of-49 (63.3 percent) passing with one touchdown with one fumble.

Williams served as one of Nevada’s starting safeties during the 2019 season. He recorded a team-high 85 tackles, the 16th-most in the Mountain West. He also had seven pass breakups with one interception (coming against UTEP). Williams tallied up seven-plus tackles six times and double-digit tackles twice last season — including a career-high 12 tackles versus Purdue.

Here is Athlon Sports’ full roster of its four preseason teams:

First-Team Offense

QB — Hank Bachmeier, Boise State

RB —Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming

RB — Charles Williams, UNLV

AP — Khalil Shakir, Boise State

WR — Warren Jackson, Colorado State

WR — Tre Walker, San Jose State

TE — Trey McBride, Colorado State

C — Keegan Cryder, Wyoming

OL — Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force

OL — Parker Ferguson, Air Force

OL — Ilm Manning, Hawaii

OL — John Ojukwu, Boise State

First-Team Defense

DL — Dom Peterson, Nevada

DL — Cameron Thomas, San Diego State

DL — Scale Igiehon, Boise State

DL — Keshawn Banks, San Diego State

LB — Demonte Meeks, Air Force

LB — Justin Rice, Fresno State

LB — Riley Whimpey, Boise State

CB — Jalen Walker, Boise State

CB — Darren Hall, San Diego State

S — Kekaula Kaniho, Boise State

S — Tariq Thompson, San Diego State

First-Team Specialists

K — Brandon Talton, Nevada

P — Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State

KR — Savon Scarver, Utah State

PR — Avery Williams, Boise State

Second-Team Offense

QB — Donald Hammond, Air Force

RB — George Holani, Boise State

RB — Kadin Remsburg, Air Force

AP — Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State

WR — Romeo Doubs, Nevada

WR — Jared Smart, Hawaii

TE — Marcus Williams, New Mexico

C — Kyle Stapley, New Mexico

OL — Syrus Tuitele, Fresno State

OL — Jackson Snyder, San Jose State

OL — Solo Vaipulu, Hawaii

OL — Logan Harris, Wyoming

OL — Julio Garcia, UNLV

Second-Team Defense

DL — Jordan Jackson, Air Force

DL — Manny Jones, Colorado State

DL — Garrett Crall, Wyoming

DL — Solomon Byrd, Wyoming

LB — Jacobi Hearn, New Mexico

LB — Chad Muma, Wyoming

LB — Dequan Jackson, Colorado State

LB — Demetri Washington, Boise State

CB — Cortez Davis, Hawaii

CB — Avery Williams, Boise State

S — Dwayne Johnson, San Diego State

S — Shaq Bond, Utah State

Second-Team Specialists

K — Matt Araiza, San Diego State

P — Tyson Dyer, New Mexico

KR — Elijah Lilly, New Mexico

PR — Dante Wright, Colorado State

Third-Team Offense

QB — Chevan Cordeiro, Hawaii

RB — Miles Reed, Hawaii

RB — Toa Taua, Nevada

AP — Jordan Nathan, Utah State

WR — Randal Grimes, UNLV

WR — Dante Wright, Colorado State

WR — Elijah Cooks, Nevada

TE — John Bates, Boise State

C — Taaga Tuulima, Hawaii

OL — Nate Brown, Nevada

OL — Teton Saltes, New Mexico

OL — William Dunkle, San Diego State

OL — Zachary Thomas, San Diego State

Third-Team Defense

DL — Kevin Atkins, Fresno State

DL — Cade Hall, San Jose State

DL — Ravontae Holt, Wyoming

DL — Ellison Hubbard, Colorado State

LB — Troy Lefeged Jr., Utah State

LB — Lawson Hall, Nevada

LB — Kyle Harmon, San Jose State

LB — Arron Mosby, Fresno State

CB — Milton Bugg, Air Force

CB — EJ Muhammad, Nevada

S — Jay Lenard, San Jose State

S — Keyon Blankenbaker, Wyoming

Third-Team Specialists

K — Matt Mercurio, San Jose State

P — Joel Velazquez, Boise State

KR — Jordan Byrd, San Diego State

PR — Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State

Fourth-Team Offense

QB — Carson Strong, Nevada

RB — Timothy Jackson, Air Force

RB — Bryson Carroll, New Mexico

WR — Bailey Gaither, San Jose State

WR — CT Thomas, Boise State

WR — Kobe Smith, San Diego State

TE — Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State

OL — Alfred Edwards, Utah State

OL — Gene Pryor, Hawaii

OL — Barry Wesley, Colorado State

OL — Karter Shaw, Utah State

OL — Jake Stetz, Boise State

OL — Matt Smith, Fresno State

Fourth-Team Defense

DL — Justus Te’I, Utah State

DL — Kwami Jones, Fresno State

DL — Blessman Ta’ala, Hawaii

DL — Jackson Cravens, Boise State

LB — Kevin Meitzenheimer, Utah State

LB — Ezekiel Noa, Boise State

LB — Lakota Wills, Air Force

CB — Donte Martin, New Mexico

CB — Rashad Ajayi, Colorado State

S — Kai Kaneshiro, Hawaii

S — Tyson Williams, Nevada

S — Rome Weber, Wyoming

Fourth-Team Specialists

K — Andrew Shelley, New Mexico

P — Stan Gaudion, Hawaii

KR — Tyleek Collins, UNLV

PR — Jordan Nathan, Utah State