After day one of Mountain West media days focused on team accolades and coaching interviews, day two shifted to individual player interviews and awards. Most teams sent one offensive and one defensive player (Nevada sent two offensive players) to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The big awards:
- Unsurprisingly, Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener was selected as preseason offensive player of the year. Haener was stellar in 2021, throwing for 4,096 yards and 33 touchdowns. With Jeff Tedford returning to Fresno, and Haener’s supporting cast largely intact, expectations are sky high for the Bulldogs.
- The preseason defensive player of the year featured a rare tie! San Jose State defensive lineman Cade Hall and San Diego State defensive back Patrick McMorris shared the award.
- On the preseason all-Mountain West team, San Diego State led the way with 8 players included. Most of the names included are stars fans are familiar with. One name surprised some, and that’s redshirt freshman TE Tanner Arkin from Colorado State. Arkin caught one pass for 9 yards in 2021. Here’s the thing: the MWC media members can only vote for who was nominated by the teams, and Arkin was the only option available. No pressure.
Air Force Falcons fullback Brad Roberts, offensive lineman Isaac Cochran and linebacker Vince Sanford were all named to the preseason all-Mountain West football team. Roberts led the conference in rushing this past season.
Air Force has three selected to preseason all-Mountain West squad https://t.co/KqALLqArUm— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) July 21, 2022
Boise State offensive lineman John Ojukwu, and defensive tackle Scott Matlock represented the Broncos in Las Vegas. It’s no surprise that an offensive lineman has an expansive appetite, but Ojukwu’s combination of milk and soda is one I’ll pass on.
In addition to Ojukwu and Matlock, safety JL Skinner and kicker Jonah Dalmas made the all-MW teams for the Broncos.
As noted earlier, the oddity of the day was the inclusion of Colorado State redshirt freshman Tanner Arkin being named to the preseason All-Mountain West team. It’s not Arkin’s fault he was the only player nominated. Arkin has big shoes to fill with Trey McBride now catching passes from Kyler Murray, but we believe in Arkin.
Fresno State featured heavily on the all-MWC offensive team, with preseason offensive player of the year Jake Haener leading the way. Haener himself, however, appreciated but downplayed the acknowledgment knowing very well that the Bulldogs still need to put it on the field this fall. He and the Bulldogs are dreaming big this fall.
Joining Haener on the all-conference team were wide receiver Jalen Cropper, running back Jordan Mims, offensive lineman Dontae Bull and defensive back Evan Williams.
The Rainbow Warriors were blanked across the board. No players included on the all-conference team, and picked to finish 6th in the division on Wednesday. Really, it’s not too much of a surprise considering the historic amount of talent the program lost during the December/January Todd Graham fiasco.
Thankfully, the attention Thursday was on the players who stayed (mostly). Offensive lineman Micah Vanterpool repped Hawaii along with teammate linebacker Penei Pavihi. Vanterpool described the effect Hawaii has had on him.
‘Hawai’i made me who I am’ - Entering senior season, @HawaiiFootball’s Micah Vanterpool is powered by #ALOHA for the islands for changing him ‘from the inside out’ • For more MWC Media Days coverage https://t.co/H1NVkfO11l #HawaiiFB #GoBows @im_micah55 pic.twitter.com/VVyI0POIl0— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) July 21, 2022
The Wolf Pack took the unique approach of sending both running backs Devonte Lee and Toa Taua to Las Vegas. Those two helped model the new football helmets the Wolf Pack will wear this fall. Offensive linemen Aaron Frost was the lone Nevada player to make the all-conference team. Defensive tackle Dom Peterson was one of the bigger snubs from the all-conference list, in my opinion.
The Lobos placed two standouts on the all-Mountain West teams in defensive back Jerrick Reed and punter Aaron Rodriguez. The Lobos always seem to have elite punters and kickers. Wide receiver Luke Wysong joined Reed in Las Vegas, and the Lobos are hoping year three of the Danny Gonzalez era is where the Lobos start to show progress.
Interviews with @LukeWysong & @JerrickReed today at @MandalayBay in #LasVegas— Steve Virgen (@SteveVirgen) July 21, 2022
They’re excited to start the season with 3 straight @UNMLoboFB home games. #MountainWestMediaDays pic.twitter.com/Jn7H4r6JZw
San Diego State
The Aztecs owned Thursday, placing a program record eight selections onto the all-conference team, and saw defensive back Patrick McMorris and returner Jordan Byrd capture the major preseason awards. Joining those two on preseason all-conference team were wide receiver Jesse Matthews, offensive linemen Alama Uluave, defensive linemen Keshawn Banks, defensive lineman Jonah Tavai and linebacker Caden McDonald.
Oh, and Caden McDonald explained why he’s missing a tooth.
What’s up with that missing front tooth? @AztecFB linebacker Caden McDonald explained at @MountainWest football media days the knocked out tooth that sparked a business opportunity. #toothlesscowboy pic.twitter.com/49IcC2yEjN— Kirk D Kenney (@sdutkirKDKenney) July 21, 2022
The Aztecs landed a program-record seven players (eight selections) on the 2022 Mountain West preseason all-conference team, the most in the league! https://t.co/7ukN91FyNI— San Diego State Football (@AztecFB) July 21, 2022
#TheTimeIsNow | #AztecFootball100 pic.twitter.com/ANNWiq3xS1
San Jose State
The Spartans showed off their defensive strength on Thursday, with defensive lineman Cade Hall taking preseason defensive player of the year. Fellow defenders Viliami Fehoko and Kyle Harmon were also named to the MW Preseason All-Conference Team. A stout defense in tandem with incoming Hawaii transfer quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, there’s growing optimism that the Spartans could spoil the party for the West Division frontrunners.
About Cordeiro. The Spartan quarterback talked about the difficulties of leaving Hawaii, and losing his love for the sport. It was Cordeiro’s departure that lit the fuse of Todd Graham eventually leaving this past January.
‘It was very difficult to make the decision to leave my home, but it had to be done’ - Former UH quarterback Chevan Cordeiro talks transfer to San Jose State after losing love for football during dark time https://t.co/b1lQq8aVxh @iam_clcxii @c_shimabuku pic.twitter.com/JRvXEF3gCC— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) July 21, 2022
@cade_hall97 on being named 2022 Preseason MW Co-Defensive Player of the Year, plus CONGRATS to Hall, @juniorfehoko42 and Kyle Harmon on being named to the 2022 Preseason All-Mountain West football team‼️— San José State Football (@SanJoseStateFB) July 21, 2022
| https://t.co/YRJ3lXdyMo#AllSpartans pic.twitter.com/RxyPCb310W
Linebacker Austin Aijake and wide receiver Kyle Williams represented the Rebels for their short commute to Mountain West media days. UNLV was shutout in the player awards, but there is optimism the Rebels will compete for a bowl game this season after showing some signs of progress last fall.
Oh, and Aijake and Williams beat each other with tortillas.
After feeling disrespected on day one of Mountain West media days, Utah State didn’t leave Thursday feeling anymore respected. The conference champions are underdogs?! Absurd, but the bulletin board material has been provided. The 2022 schedule is once again set up for the Aggies to succeed.
Ran into some old friends @USUFootball— Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl (@LABowlGame) July 21, 2022
Hale Motu'apuaka and reigning MVP Logan Bonner talk about what made last year’s #JimmyKimmelLABowl so special.@hale_676 @LoganBaneBonner | #MWFB pic.twitter.com/Rnx7qlSkwZ
Much like the circumstances at Hawaii, it shouldn’t shock anyone that Wyoming was shutout from the all-conference teams. The Cowboys lost a lot of talent. That said, running back Titus Swen and linebacker Easton Gibbs figure to be standouts for the Pokes this fall.
One Wyoming beat writer felt there was a snub or two.
My ✌️ cents: Cole Godbout should definitely be on the preseason all-MWC squad and there's a good chance Titus Swen and Easton Gibbs are on the postseason squad. Several O-linemen have a chance to be on there as well.— Ryan Thorburn (@By_RyanThorburn) July 21, 2022