Two USU football players were placed onto preseason watch list honors early Thursday.
Aggies wide receiver Deven Thompkins was placed on the Hornung Award watch list, handed to the nation’s most versatile player on either side of the ball. Defensive end Justus Te’i earned a spot on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list, awarded to the player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Thompkins was one of 50 players in the nation added to the watch list and just one of six in the Mountain West. The other five MW athletes were Colorado State’s Dante Wright (WR), Nevada’s Toa Taua (RB), Boise State’s Avery Williams (CB), Fresno State’s Ronnie Rivers (RB) and San Diego State’s Jordyn Byrd (RB).
The Aggies receiver was one of the lone bright spots on what was a rather disappointing 2019 for the program. As a true sophomore, Thompkins showed off his versatility by snatching 40 receptions for 536 yards and four touchdowns while also picking up 77 yards and a score on six carries. He even added one kick return for 22 yards and took his lone punt return for a 45-yard scamper into the end-zone.
Deven had at least two receptions in every game played last season, earning the trust of star quarterback Jordan Love. He has legitimate skill as a deep threat and can make defenders miss after the catch with ease. His speed and agility are what allow him to be so versatile and with a season of experience behind him, he should be even more lethal in 2020.
The other Utah State athlete to earn a place on an award watch list on Thursday, Te’i was one of 114 nominees to make the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. There were five other Mountain West players who were named, them being Colorado State’s Barry Wesley (OT), New Mexico’s Teton Saltes (OT), Boise State’s Donte Harrington (C), Nevada’s Lawson Hall (LB), Hawai’i’s Hekili Keliiliki (RB) and lastly San Jose State’s Christian Webb (DE).
Te’i has proven to be a leader both on and off the field for Utah State since joining the program in 2016. Thus far in his career, Justus has recorded 117 total tackles, 10 for loss and three sacks, in 41 games played. He has also nabbed five fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and even five pass breakups.
In 2019, the Aggies defensive end/linebacker hybrid started all 13 games and racked up 51 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. Te’i added another three pass breakups and one quarterback hurry to follow a team-leading three fumble recoveries, which was the best in the Mountain West and sixth nationally.
Although his on-field play is already impressive, what makes it even more so is what he contributes off of it. Te’i, a sociology major, has earned all-Mountain West academic honors twice. He has also expended numerous hours working with various groups and organizations within his community.
Here are all of the Aggies who have earned preseason watch list honors thus far:
- Deven Thompkins, WR - Hornung Award
- Jaylen Warren, RB - Doak Walker Award
- Justus Te’i, DE - Wuerffel Trophy