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MWCConnection Roundtable: Who is the best player on your team heading into 2023?

The team weighs in.

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off the Mountain West media days, and with fall camp in sight (or starting today for the teams playing in Week 0), the roundtable is back for another week. Continuing with the team-focused themes as we get closer to the start of training camp, the question of the week is: who is the best player on each team entering the 2023 season?

Jeff: The defensive-dominant Aztecs have many holes to fill on both sides of the ball this year. Gone is all-conference Safety Patrick McMorris who was arguably the team leader as well as LB standout Caden McDonald. The question is who will be the leader on the defensive side? Many might say Cedarius Barfield. I would lean towards him initially, but don’t see him racking up lots of stats. My prediction will be transfer LB Cody Moon. The transfer from New Mexico is well suited to slip into a starting role and perhaps even an all league opportunity. He comes from the Lobos 3-3-5 defensive scheme, same as the Aztecs and he totaled 149 tackles including 11 tfl’s and 5 sacks. He has a knack for being around the ball and provides the ability to stop ball carriers as well as disrupt quarterbacks. He is my pick for the best Aztec player heading into the 2023 season. I do not see an offensive player making as much of an impact as Moon. The concerning issue of course lies on the player development. That the Aztecs need to rely on a transfer who will likely be their best performer, leaves some questions of their system development of players.

Matt: It’s no secret that the Bulldogs lost a ton of production and talent from the 2022 squad, although there is still a good amount of experience left on a defensive unit that came on very strong in the second half of the season. Evan Williams is off to Oregon, so the decision for this will really come down to Cam Lockridge and Levelle Bailey, with Devo Bridges and Dean Clark sitting behind them in the order. Both players return with a lot of experience and production, and will be the undisputed leaders of this Bulldog defense in 2023. If I had to choose between the two to be the best player for Fresno St in 2023, I will choose Lockridge for now. Mikey Keene could play himself into the discussion alongside the others on defense, but Cam Lockridge and Levelle Bailey are 1A and 1B until further notice.

Mike: I will fill in for UNLV this week. I think the easy answer is quarterback Doug Brumfield. He made their offense run last year and we saw how easily it stalled when he was hurt in the middle of the season. Heading into the 2023 season, Brumfield once again is the key to making the offense go. He appears to be a great fit in the new “Go-Go” offense. This is in large part because of his ability to run as well as throw, making him a real dual-threat. The factor that could elevate him from the best Rebel player to one of the best players in the Mountain West is if he can speed up his decision-making, which is one of the keys to really unlocking this offense.

NittanyFalcon: For the Falcons, the safe answer is Trey Taylor. He’s a player dedicated to his craft, known on the team as someone who uses his spare time to study game film. This gives him a sense of how plays will develop, and that gets him to where the ball is going. It’s not an accident that the Falcons had such an outstanding defense last year with Taylor as the quarterback of the defense.

Jack: Colorado State may have the best player in the conference in Tory Horton. He followed Jay Norvell from Nevada to Fort Collins after two solid years, and exploded onto the scene in 2022. He was 1st in yards, 2nd in TD catches, and 4th in receptions, and he’ll only produce more as he gets stronger and the offense around him develops. He easily could’ve left for greener pastures (Norvell said he had multiple SEC teams court him), but his loyalty to the Rams is apparent and admirable. The school record for single season receiving yards is 1,750 (Rashad Higgins), and could be in reach if Horton gets even better this year.