This is the next edition in the opponent preview series for the Utah State Aggies football team. Each new preview covers a different opponent for the Aggies.
Game 4: vs UNLV
Date/Time: Saturday, September 24th at 4:00 PM PST
Location: Logan, Utah
TV: CBS Sports Network
Players to Watch
Sophomore quarterback Harrison Bailey
Though he didn’t see a lot of time at Tennessee but he did have offers from teams such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State. He threw for 11,716 yards in his high school career. In 2019, he threw for 4,271 yards and 44 touchdowns while throwing just nine interceptions. In 2018, he threw for 2,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. He should provide immediate depth for the UNLV quarterback group.
Senior running back Chad Magyar
Magyar was the backup to Charles Williams and last season Magyar carried the ball 13 times for 45 yards. He had 369 net rushing yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. He came out in the Spring as the top running back on the roster and his experience behind Charles Williams should give him an opportunity to step into a bigger leadership role.
Junior wide receiver Jordan Jakes
Lakes is a big receiver at 6-6 215 lbs and should provide good experience and size for the Rebels. He caught five passes for 49 yards last season with a long catch of 12 yards. Jakes transferred from Indiana and comes to UNLV looking for a bigger role.
Junior wide receiver Zyell Griffin
Griffin played in nine games during the 2021 season and made four starts. He finished the year with 223 receiving yards on 11 catches and has recorded a couple of deep ball catches. He finished fourth on the team in receiving yards last year and should improve on those numbers this year.
Sophomore wide receiver Ricky White
White transfers from Michigan State, where he had 223 receiving yards and a touchdown for the Spartans. Coming out of Spring camp, White was listed as one of the top receivers and he he has the size and experience to make a big impact for UNLV.
Senior wide receiver Nick Williams
Williams could be an incredible playmaker for the Rebels this season. He transfers from CSU-Pueblo and caught 48 passes for 594 yards last season and three touchdowns. During his Junior season in 2019, he had 684 yards off of 43 receptions and caught four touchdowns. Williams is 6-4 220 lbs. and could be a force for UNLV.
Senior wide receiver Jeff Weimer
Weimer comes from City College of San Francisco, where he helped lead CCSF to a 13-0 season and a championship. He had 1,253 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns while at CCSF. He is an explosive player and will almost certainly be an explosive playmaker for the Revels.
Junior wide receiver Kyle Williams
Williams finished second on the team in 2021 with 601 receiving yards on 42 receptions and scored two touchdowns on the season. He was named to Phil Steele’s 2021 Second-Team Preseason All Mountain West as well.
Junior wide receiver Senika Mckie
Mckie transfers from Erskine College and finished his 2021 Fall season with 96 receptions for 1,113 yards and he scored seven touchdowns. During his 2021 Spring season, Mckie had 54 catches for 661 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Sophomore outside linebacker Brennon Scott
In 2021, Scott played in 11 games and finished eight on the team with 35 tackles and led UNLV with nine tackles for loss for 22 yards in addition to four sacks.
Senior inside linebacker Austin Ajiake
Ajiake only played in the first eight games but averaged 9.25 tackles per game and finished the season with 74 tackles. These were much higher numbers than he had previously put up and it earned him Defensive MVP and Defensive Captain awards. He also appeared at the 2022 Mountain West Media Days as a representative for UNLV.
Senior inside linebacker Fred Thompkins
Thompkins is another transfer from CCSF and had 55 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup during the 2021 season. He should provide good depth for the Rebels linebacker group.
Senior defensive lineman Ben Key
Key is a transfer from Missouri and also attended East LA College. At East LA College in 2019, Key had 40 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss in addition to three sacks through 10 games.
Fifth year defensive tackle Tavis Malakius
Malakius made 17 tackles and one forced fumble last season and appeared in 12 games. He is a former JUCO All-American and looks to step into one of the starting defensive tackle roles this Fall.
Fifth year defensive lineman Eliel Ehimare
Through 12 games last season, Ehimare made 27 tackles and had three tackles for loss. He was recognized for his academic achievements and has been voted to the 2022 Preseason Third Team All Mountain West by Athlon Sports.
Senior defensive lineman Adam Plant Jr.
In 2021, was named to the 2021 Preseason All-Mountain West team by Phil Steele. He appeared in 11 games and had 46 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 quarterback sacks. In 2020, Plant Jr. had 31 tackles and seven tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks. He currently leads the Rebels in sacks and is preparing to have a big season.
Junior defensive back Jerrae Williams
Though he sat out the 2020 and 2021 seasons for UNLV, Williams is listed as a starting cornerback for the Rebels. He earned second team all district honors in high school after totaling 50 tackles, six force fumbles and four sacks in his senior season in 2018.
Junior defensive back Tyson Player
Player played in 10 games for UNLV last Fall and finished the season with 33 tackles and a pass breakup. He is listed as the number one at the safety spot going into the 2022 season.
Junior defensive back Nohl Williams
Nohl Williams appeared in 10 games last season and made 33 tackles, leading the team with four pass breakups. Williams will be looking to make bigger contributions this Fall.
Junior defensive back Ricky Johnson
Last season, Johnson made three interceptions, tied for first on the team. He also made 25 tackles and two pass breakups. He is listed at number two at a cornerback spot after Spring practice.
Early on, this looks to be a very winnable game for Utah State. The Rebels could struggle from a lack of running game replacing Charles Williams and become one dimensional in the passing game.
The two important groups that the Aggies must focus on are the receivers and the defensive backs. UNLV hit the transfer portal several times and has found veteran talent that are going to be making impacts for the Rebels right away. Both of these groups have quite a bit of depth and experience so Utah State needs to be careful with passing the ball and defending the pass.
Ultimately what this game is going to come down to is who has the advantage when passing the ball and who has it when defending the pass, and Utah State does seem to have that edge at this point.