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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Surprise Players

Which players will surprise this season?

Fresno State v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

With less than 50 day remaining until the start of the season, speculation runs rampant over which Mountain West athletes will be the biggest surprises this season. This week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” is going to focus on athletes that will make a splash.

The Good:

Jalen Cropper

Cropper was one of the biggest recruits the Bulldogs have ever landed. Expectations were sky high for him coming out of high school. To this point, he has kind of fallen short of lofty expectations that were put in front of him. If it weren’t for Carson Strong, he would be a dark horse offensive player of the year candidate. The Bulldogs need to make sure they are getting Cropper ten touches a game. Any time he touches the ball, he is capable of putting six points on the board.

Jackson Cravens

A name that many of you are not familiar with. Cravens is a defensive lineman at Boise State that transferred from Utah. Cravens looked like an absolute monster at the spring game and should compliment Scott Matlock. Scale Igiehon, and Divine Obichere. The defensive line is looking stacked for the Broncos.

The Bad:

Ronnie Rivers

It feels like this is Rivers’ 20th season in Fresno. He has been a popular All-Mountain West selection and rightfully so. But the Bulldogs have a ton of depth at running back and he will likely be sharing carries with Utah transfer Jordan Wilmore. For that reason, I see his role declining this fall.

Nick Starkell

Starkell took the Mountain West by storm during the COVID shortened season. He was lucky enough to have some elite targets in Tre Walker and Billy Gaither, both of whom are no longer Spartans. Starkell will take the Spartans bowling in 2021, but they will fall short of another Mountain West title, and his numbers won’t quite stack up to the previous season.

The Ugly:

Sean Chambers

If I’m being honest, I’m really pulling for Chambers. He has a great story, and his perseverance is inspiring. But I’ve seen quarterbacks try to come back from multiple leg injuries, and it is no small task. Chambers will struggle and the Cowboys will fall short of contending for a league title.

Toa Taua

When your brother is a legendary running back and a coach on the staff, expectations are going to be high. That is definitely the case for Toa Taua. Taua has been inconsistent during his time in Reno, and I don’t see that changing this fall. If the Wolf Pack are going to truly contend for a title this fall, they will need to have a running game that complements their future NFL quarterback.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Which player from your team will be the biggest surprise this fall? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.