LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football had nine players named to the Phil Steele Magazine Preseason All-Mountain West teams, highlighted by the first-team selection of senior kick returner Savon Scarver, it was announced Monday by the publication.
Offensively, senior center Demytrick Ali’ifua made the third team, while senior running back Jaylen Warren, junior wide receiver Deven Thompkins and sophomore offensive lineman Andy Koch were all tabbed to the fourth team.
Defensively, senior safety Shaq Bond made the second team and senior safety Troy Lefeged Jr. made the third team, while senior linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer and senior defensive end Justus Te’i both landed on the fourth team.
A consensus All-American in 2018 – just the third Aggie to ever earn that distinction – Scarver earned first-team all-MW honors as a junior in 2019 after leading the conference and ranking second nationally in kickoff returns for touchdown with two. The native of Las Vegas, Nev., was also first in the MW and 11th in the nation in kickoff return yards as he returned 22 kickoffs for 613 yards (27.9 ypr).
Scarver was named the MW Special Teams Player of the Week following his performance against Colorado State on Sept. 28, 2019, as he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Aggies’ 34-24 win over the Rams. He had another 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown in USU’s 36-10 win against Nevada on Oct. 19, 2019.
The honor is the third of the preseason for Scarver, who was named to the 2020 College Football America (CFA) Yearbook Group of 5 Preseason Starting Lineup, CFA’s version of a Group of 5 conference All-America Team, and the Athlon Sports Preseason all-MW first team earlier this summer.
Ali’ifua started all 13 games at center for the Aggies in 2019 and played in a team-best 901 offensive snaps overall, including a career-high 91 against Colorado State on Sept. 28. He finished the season with 33 knockdowns, including a career-high 10 against BYU on Nov. 2.
Warren played in 12 games last season and finished second on the team in rushing as he carried the ball 112 times for 569 yards (5.1 ypc/47.4 ypg) and five touchdowns. He also had 15 receptions for 182 yards (12.1 ypr).
Of the 12 games Thompkins played in during the 2019 campaign, he made six starts and finished the season 40 receptions for 536 yards (13.4 ypr/44.7 ypg), and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball six times for 77 yards (12.8 ypc) and one touchdown, returned one punt for a 45-yard touchdown and had one kickoff return for 22 yards.
Koch started the first three games of the 2019 season at right tackle before missing the rest of the year due to injury. He played in 204 snaps, including a career-high 81 against Wake Forest on Aug. 30, in the season opener, and had 12.5 knockdowns, including a career-high 8.5 against the Demon Deacons.
Bond earned honorable mention all-MW honors in 2019 as he finished the season fourth on the team with 83 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. He led the team with three interceptions and ranked third with his eight passes defended, including five pass breakups. The honor is the second of the preseason for Bond, who was to the Athlon Sports Preseason all-MW second team earlier this summer.
Lefeged started all 13 games a year ago and led the Aggies with 104 tackles. He also tied for second on the team with 2.0 sacks and tied for fourth with 6.0 tackles for loss. The native of Montgomery Village, Md., also recorded three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups. The honor is the second of the preseason for Lefeged, who was to the Athlon Sports Preseason all-MW third team earlier this summer.
Meitzenheimer finished third on the team in 2019 with 89 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, to go along with one interception, one forced fumble and one pass breakup. The honor is the second of the preseason for Meitzenheimer, who was to the Athlon Sports Preseason all-MW fourth team earlier this summer.
Te’i matched his jersey number with 51 tackles last season, including 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also had three pass breakups and one quarterback hurry, to go along with a team-best three fumble recoveries to rank first in the MW and sixth in the nation (0.23 pg). The honor is the second of the preseason for Te’i, who was to the Athlon Sports Preseason all-MW fourth team earlier this summer.
Utah State went 7-6 overall in 2019, including a 6-2 mark in the MW to finish third in the Mountain Division. It was just the 26th time in school history that USU won at least seven games, while the six league wins tied for the sixth-most in school history. USU also played in its 14th bowl game in school history in 2019, including its eighth in the past nine seasons.
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Phil Steele Magazine 2020 Preseason All-Mountain West Teams
QB – Hank Bachmeier, Boise State
RB – Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming
RB – Charles Williams, UNLV
WR – Warren Jackson, Colorado State
WR – Jared Smart, Hawai’i
WR – Tre Walker, San José State
TE – Trey McBride, Colorado State
C – Keegan Cryder, Wyoming
OL – Teton Saltes, New Mexico
OL – Ilm Manning, Hawai’i
OL – Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force
OL – Gene Pryor, Hawai’i
DL – Keshawn Banks, San Diego State
DL – Dom Peterson, Nevada
DL – Manny Jones, Colorado State
DL – Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
LB – Riley Whimpey, Boise State
LB – Demonte Meeks, Air Force
LB – Justin Rice, Fresno State
LB – Darius Muasau, Hawai’i
DB – Tariq Thompson, San Diego State
DB – Kekaula Kaniho, Boise State
DB – Jalen Walker, Boise State
CB – Darren Hall, San Diego State
K – Matt Araiza, San Diego State
P – Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State
KR – Savon Scarver, Utah State
PR – Avery Williams, Boise State
LS – Turner Bernard, San Diego State
QB – Patrick O’Brien, Colorado State
RB – Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State
RB – George Holani, Boise State
WR – Bailey Ganther, San José State
WR – Elijah Cooks, Nevada
WR – Khalil Shakir, Boise State
TE – John Bates, Boise State
C – Taaga Tuulima, Hawai’i
OL – John Ojukwu, Boise State
OL – Elijah Johnson, Colorado State
OL – Syrus Tuitele, Fresno State
OL – Jack Snyder, San José State
DL – Solomon Byrd, Wyoming
DL – Jordan Jackson, Air Force
DL – Scale Igiehon, Boise State
DL – Kevin Atkins, Fresno State
LB – Arron Mosby, Fresno State
LB – Chad Muma, Wyoming
LB – Brock Miller, Boise State
LB – Dequan Jackson, Colorado State
DB – Cortez Davis, Hawai’i
DB – Jay Lenard, San Diego State
DB – Shaq Bond, Utah State
DB – Milton Bugg, Air Force
K – Brandon Talton, Nevada
P – Tyson Dyer, New Mexico
KR – Melquise Stovall, Hawai’i
PR – Dante Wright, Colorado State
LS – Ross Reiter, Colorado State
QB – Chevan Cordeiro, Hawai’i
RB – Miles Reed, Hawai’i
RB – Kadin Remsberg, Air Force
WR – Nate Craig-Myers, Colorado State
WR – Melquise Stovall, Hawai’i
WR – Dante Wright, Colorado State
TE – Marcus Williams, New Mexico
C – Demytrick Ali’ifua, Utah State
OL – Parker Ferguson, Air Force
OL – Nate Brown, Nevada
OL – Julio Garcia, UNLV
OL – Logan Harris, Wyoming
DL – Jonah Laulu, Hawai’i
DL – Garrett Crall, Wyoming
DL – Scott Patchan, Colorado State
DL – Demitri Washington, Boise State
LB – Jeremiah Pritchard, Hawai’i
LB – Jacobi Hearn, New Mexico
LB – Kyle Harmon, San José State
LB – Caden McDonald, San Diego State
DB – Troy Lefeged Jr., Utah State
DB – Logan Stewart, Colorado State
DB – Dwayne Johnson, San Diego State
DB – Tyson Williams, Nevada
K – Matt Mercurio, San José State
P – Tanner Kuljian, San Diego State
KR – Jordan Byrd, San Diego State
PR – Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State
LS – Jacob Westberry, Fresno State
QB – Donald Hammond, Air Force
RB – Toa Taua, Nevada
RB – Jaylen Warren, Utah State
WR – Romeo Dobbs, Nevada
WR – Deven Thompkins, Utah State
WR – Randal Grimes, UNLV
TE – Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State
C – Kyle Stapley, New Mexico
OL – Kyle Hoppe, San José State
OL – Andy Koch, Utah State
OL – Solo Vaipulu, Hawai’i
OL – William Dunkle, San Diego State
DL – Kwami Jones, Fresno State
DL – Cade Hall, San José State
DL – Justus Te’i, Utah State
DL – Leonard Payne, Fresno State
LB – Lawson Hall, Nevada
LB – Farrell Hester, UNLV
LB – Kevin Meitzenheimer, Utah State
LB – Penei Pavihi, Hawai’i
DB – Michael LoVett, New Mexico
DB – Khoury Bethley, Hawai’i
DB – Rome Weber, Wyoming
DB – Avery Williams, Boise State
K – Daniel Gutierrez, UNLV
P – Stan Gaudion, Hawai’i
KR – Tyleek Collins, UNLV
PR – Romeo Dobbs, Nevada
LS – Conner Kirkegaard, Air Force