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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Surprise Players

Which players will surprise the conference this fall?

Air Force v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Last week, we began our series previewing the 2022 Mountain West football season and took a look at overall expectations ahead of the football season. This week, we are going to take a little bit different approach. Every season there are players that fly under the radar and there are players that don’t meet expectations. This edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” is going to focus on what we expect to be the biggest surprises of the 2022 football season.

The Good

Stefan Cobbs and Latrell Caples Form an Elite Tandem

Boise State fans got a sneak peek of Latrell Caples and what he was capable of when he is healthy. Both Cobbs and Caples have had significant health issues during their time in Boise. If both guys can stay healthy, they should form one of the better receiving tandems in the Mountain West and provide the Bronco offense with a much needed boost.

Jake Haener Garners National Attention

Haener is going to put up elite numbers with his plethora of weapons. The Bulldogs are getting some national attention this season and after testing the transfer portal, Haener decided to return to Fresno for one more season. Haener is going to be in the conversation for the Davey O’Brien trophy and might even get in the Heisman conversation if the Bulldogs can pull off victories over Oregon State and USC.

Jonah Tavai Gets the Hardware

Tavai showed as much growth as any player in the Mountain West last season. The San Diego State defensive lineman is my preseason pick for defensive player of the year. Tavai has shown that he has the ability to get to the quarterback and be a force in stopping the run.

Dante Wright Thrives Under New System

One of the biggest head scratchers in Fort Collins last season was how little Dante Wright was involved in the Colorado State offense last season. That will change under Jay Norvell and his air raid offense. Dante Wright will be Norvell’s biggest weapon, and I expect him to put up some huge numbers this season.

Elijah Cooks Has an All-Conference Season

When Cooks entered the transfer portal, I thought he was destined to land in Fort Collins or at a Power Five program. Instead, Cooks found a new home in San Jose. I think the Chevan Cordeiro to Elijah Cooks connection is going to make big noise for the Spartans this season. Cooks is one of my suprise picks to be an all-conference performer this season.

The Bad

Logan Bonner Struggles to Match 2021 Play

The surprising emergence of Arkansas State transfer Logan Bonner helped to propel the Aggies to a conference championship. Bonner did struggle occasionally and was benched in favor of Andrew Peasley at times. Bonner and the Aggies will have a target on their backs this offseason, and for that reason, I think we will see a decline in production and wins in 2022.

The Ugly

Andrew Peasley is Not the Solution

The Cowboys made a quarterback swap of sorts. Former quarterback Levi Williams transferred to Utah State, while former Aggie quarterback Andrew Peasley landed in Laramie. I do think that Peasley is an upgrade over Williams but not a significant enough upgrade to be a real game changer for a Wyoming team that has lots of questions throughout the roster.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Who are some players you expect to surprise the conference this fall? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.