Two Nevada football players were placed onto preseason watch list honors Thursday.
Nevada running back Toa Taua has been placed on the preseason watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, awarded to the nation’s most versatile player. Linebacker Lawson Hall was named to the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, awarded to the player who serve others, celebrates their positive impact on society and inspires greater service in the world.
Taua, a native of Lompoc, Calif., was one of six players in the Mountain West and one of 50 players nationally to be named to the watch list. The other five conference members were Deven Thompkins (Utah State), Dante Wright (Colorado State), Avery Williams (Boise State), Ronnie Rivers (Fresno State) and Jordyn Byrd (San Diego State). Taua was named to the Doak Award watch list last week.
He 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. Taua earned All-Mountain West honorable mention honors, leading Nevada with 807 yards on 196 carries (4.1 ypc) with six rushing scores.
While averaging 62.1 rushing yards per contest, Taua totaled two 100-yard rushing performances, including a season-high 160 rushing yards on a career-high 34 carries with a rushing touchdown versus San Jose State. His only other 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.
In addition to his rushing numbers, Taua has caught 52 career passes for 387 yards with one receiving touchdown in 26 games. The 5-foot-9 tailback, who could potentially serve as one of the Pack’s kick returners this season, has returned seven kicks in his career (including five last year).
Hall was one of 114 nominees — including one of seven Mountain West members — to make the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. The other six conference players were Justus Te’i (Utah State), Teton Saltes (New Mexico), Donte Harrington (Boise State), Barry Wesley (Colorado State), Hekili Keliiliki (Hawai’i) and Christian Webb (San Jose State).
Over the last few years, Hall has been very active with community service. He has served as a mentor for young athletes in Los Angeles, Calif., — providing them with knowledge, resources and advice on how to become a better student-athlete. He has also worked with kids in Reno, spending time at the Boys & Girls Club and local grade schools to read and interact with them, and to provide them with a positive figure to look up to.
Hall has helped package meals for families in need in both Los Angeles and in Boise, Idaho, prior to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in January. Additionally, Hall has been an active part of the Black Lives Matter movement, helping to organize a team unity video on the subject in June, leading to him being invited to join a conference call with U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. On the call, Hall discussed racial injustice and provided recommendations to Senator Cortez Masto on what the federal government can do to implement systematic change.
On the field, Hall posted his best season to date with the Wolf Pack in 2019, finishing the year tied for second on the defense with a career-best 58 tackles. Additionally, he totaled 3.0 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks and added two interceptions. His two picks were tied for second-most on the team.
Both Taua and Hall are among the top Wolf Pack returning players entering the 2020 season.
Here is a list of Nevada players to garner 2020 preseason watch list honors:
- Dom Peterson, DL - Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy, Nagurski Trophy
- Toa Taua, RB - Doak Walker Award, Paul Hornung Award
- Elijah Cooks, WR - Biletnikoff Award
- Brandon Talton, K - Lou Groza Award
- Lawson Hall, LB - Wuerffel Trophy