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Peak Perspective: The Most Mountain West Player on Each Team in 2023.

The best players in the conference who are unknown to those outside the conference.

The idea is to identify the players who are good but not transcendent stars. These are players who are talented but not household names to college football fans outside of the Mountain West Conference. These are often solid players whose talents and production are appreciated more by watching a season’s worth of conference games rather than catching highlights on ESPN or getting national attention from sports media. It may be the best player on the team, and for other teams, it may simply be one of the better players. The main rule is that their in-conference reputation has to be far greater than their out-of-conference reputation.

Here last year’s version for reference:

Air Force:

(Provided by NittanyFalcon)

For the Falcons, I would have to say Payton Zdroik. I was shocked this year when the highly regarded college football forecaster Phil Steele did not include Zdroik on his all conference teams, not even his fourth team! I’m not sure how that happened but it is typical for many great Mountain West athletes to be overlooked so blatantly. He was on most everyone’s first team list that follows the MW closely. He was only a sophomore last year and he’s only going to get better. The scoop from inside the program is that he may be the physically strongest defensive lineman in the school’s history, and as a nose guard, he’s way too quick for those big guys in the middle who try to block him.

Boise State:

(Provided by Aiden)

The Broncos always seem to have a handful of guys that just do everything right and bide their time until their name is called. Safety Alexander Teubner embodies that timeline as he started five games a year ago and flew around the gridiron, making hustle plays time and time again. The Seaside native is one of those players that, even if he doesn’t start, will be dependable in rotating with the ones and infuse energy into the secondary. We will know where he stacks up once the official depth chart is released, but I would not be shocked if he was starting in Seattle.

Colorado State:

(Provided by Jack)

There were plenty of candidates to choose from, but ultimately, Chigozie Anusiem has to be the Rams most Mountain West player. He came to Fort Collins last year after 3 seasons at Cal, and immediately established himself as CSU’s top cornerback. He’s one of the tallest corners in the conference at 6 foot 1. His athleticism is top notch. He’s got great footwork and excellent pass defending skills (his 9 deflections tied for 5th in the conference). In a secondary full of talent, Anusiem still stands out as their veteran leader. He’s expected to have a superb final year of collegiate football, which will hopefully culminate in the Rams first trip to a bowl game since 2017.

Fresno State:

(Provided by Matt)

We’re on our third running back named Rivers, so it pretty much has to be him at this point. Freshman Devon Rivers comes in with a huge weight of his family name, but the stats and skills to back it up. The number 20 has become synonymous with that surname, and it appears that Devon will carry that on, even as a true freshman this year. He has his older brother’s elusive running style and speed, so it would not be surprising to see him used in the return game this year, or even used as a gadget runner to spell Malik Sherrod during game action. If he goes on to have the same successful career as Ron and Ronnie, we might just have to put a Rivers jersey up in the stadium for all 3 of them.


(Provided by Jeremy)

Not all football fans are tuned into recruiting, but the fans that are know there is an increasing sense of optimism for Hawaii football. Timmy Chang is slowly but surely raising the talent level of the roster. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It was evident Hawaii had more than a few talent deficiencies last season.

Linebacker Logan Taylor, in my eyes, is the most Mountain West football player for the Warriors. Maybe not the most physically gifted player around, Taylor punches well above his weight to give Hawaii a chance. His entrance into the starting lineup last season gave the Warriors a boost. The defense started the season horribly, but finished admirably largely thanks to Taylor’s influence. That, to me, makes him the most Mountain West football player for UH. No, he’s probably not going to show up on any early mock drafts. But he will fight his rear end off and give Hawaii a puncher’s chance through leadership and example.


(Provided by Dom)

This Wolf Pack roster is very new and inexperienced. The fun thing about that is you get to see those hidden, gritty players that are game changers. I’m going with running back Ashton Hayes. He’s new to the Mountain West, but boy will he be loved by Nevada. He transferred to the Wolf Pack from Cal, adding another Pac-12 member to Nevada. Before then, he was a Northern Nevada product. He played high school ball at Damonte Ranch and McQueen, rushing for 5,340 yards and scoring 71 touchdowns.

Hayes only played four games last year with the Bears, so he’s still technically a freshman for Nevada. This is a kid with Reno roots and has been waiting for a chance to start.

Alongside Sean Dollars, another Pac-12 transfer from Oregon, Nevada’s running game is going to be really good. Ken Wilson loves his running game, which will give Hayes plenty of opportunities in the backfield to make explosive plays.

New Mexico:

(Provided by Adam)

Defense has always been the name of the game in Albuquerque, especially with the history of head coach Danny Gonzales. With that being said, safety Tavian Combs is the centerpiece for the Lobos on that side of the ball. Combs played in only three games in 2022, but was second on the team in tackles in both 2020 and 2021. When Combs is 100 percent, he is going to be anywhere the ball is on the field making the tackle. New Mexico needs Combs’ leadership as well this season given the fact that he is just one of two starters returning on defense for this season.

San Diego State:

(Provided by Jeff)

The Aztecs return a few key players but will be relying upon new or fairly new athletes to make up this year's Aztec team. Who to pick why might not be on anyone’s radar but is key to the success of the Aztecs? Leaning on the defense, I think Oklahoma State transfer Samuela Tuihalamaka will solidify the defensive line at the end position. At 6’1 and 290 pounds, he should be able to compete against even the largest tackle. He might pull double teams thereby allowing a linebacker blitz to upset the quarterbacks rhythm. His size is sufficient to warrant the opposition's attention on both running and passing situations. If he’s got the quickness, I project him to have half a dozen sacks, several rushed passes, and about 12 tackles for loss. If he can show this form, look for the Aztecs to have a strong defensive front once again.

San Jose State:

(Provided by Vic)

5’7,” 195 lb senior running back Kairee Robinson is certainly the most unsung Mountain West player. Robinson’s been on other teams’ pre-game radars the last couple seasons because of his explosiveness and violent running style. You go low - he goes lower. Robinson is that type of NFL prospect that can fit in gap style runs well; given the right situation. NFL scouts should have that on his menu. Robinson’s progress and stat trajectory are on par to great expectations his final year. With his 752 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs last season, expect a nice increase with a bigger, stronger Robinson.


(Provided by Jos)

The Rebels have a new coach this year which means players have come and gone. One guy who has stuck with the Rebels throughout the years is RB Courtney Reese. He may not be a household name outside of the Mountain West, but he is a grinder day in and day out. He has been with UNLV since 2019 and he hasn’t tried to leave because he wasn’t getting enough playing time. Even looking at last year where he should have been slated to be the starting runner for the Rebels, but was outshined by RB Aidan Robbins, a transfer from Louisville. However, Reese knew he would get his chance and when he did, he seized the opportunity. In a game against Notre Dame when Robbins was hurt, Reese ran for 142 yards on 11 carries. He also totaled 372 yards on 52 carries from the 2022 season. It was his best season as a Rebel and now that hard work will pay off as he will get his opportunity as the RB1 on the depth chart going into the 2023 season. The Mountain West conference is about putting in the extra effort. Reese exemplifies the Mountain West mentality.

Utah State:

(Provided by Graham)

The Aggies lost several key players to both the transfer portal and graduation. An unknown name that may not be known outside the Mountain West but that is still important for Utah State is sophomore running back Robert Briggs, who is expected to be the starter for the Aggies. Last season as a freshman Brgigs rushed for 368 yards and a touchdown on 74 carries behind starter Calvin Tyler. Briggs was a three star recruit out of Bellville, Texas and had offers from Utah State and UConn. As a senior in high school Briggs rushed for 1381 yards and 22 touchdowns on 124 attempts and also had 21 receptions for 562 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. This was the most productive season for Briggs as he rushed for 11 touchdowns and 678 yards in 2020 and 840 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2019. Briggs led the team in two games last year in rushing against Alabama (28 yards) and New Mexico (82 yards) but he is a player that is going to be very important for Utah State and could make a name for himself this season. This is definitely a player that would be appreciated more by watching an entire season of effort and development rather than catching highlights.


(Provided by Ethan)

Many players on the Cowboy roster could be placed in this spot as the “Most Mountain West Player.” Easton Gibbs has obviously been incredible and one of the best players in the Mountain West, but is not really unsung at this point in his career. Harrison Waylee shows some pretty great promise to the UW backfield, transferring from NIU and looking to take the starting runningback position. But… not even we know this guy very well.

One guy that has felt fairly unsung to me is Devonne Harris. He completes the holy trinity of the Cowboy front seven. Gibbs, Bertagnole, and then Harris. The junior defensive end had eight sacks this past season, tied for fourth in the conference. Along with this, he had 56 tackles in 2022 and plans to rack up that number this season. His speed allows him to get past linemen quickly and pick up those sacks and TFLs. He’s only really started for one year, that being 2022, but has shown that he is more than worthy of leading a Wyoming defensive line that has been premier historically. Devonne is someone to have on your radar as not only a top edge-rusher in the MWC, but in the entire nation.