Utah State football has eight players earn All-Mountain West honors

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State had eight football players earn honorable mention all-Mountain West accolades, it was announced by the league office on Tuesday.

Aggies that earned all-Mountain West honors include senior offensive lineman Demytrick Ali’ifua, senior safety Shaq Bond, senior defensive end Nick Heninger, senior defensive lineman Marcus Moore, senior kickoff returner Savon Scarver, sophomore offensive lineman Karter Shaw, sophomore inside linebacker AJ Vongphachanh and freshman punter Stephen Kotsanlee.

In all, Utah State had four defensive players, two offensive players and two special team players recognized for a total of eight all-conference awards, to rank as the seventh-most in the league.

Boise State led the Mountain West with 17 all-conference honorees, followed by Nevada (16), San Diego State (16), Colorado State (12), San José State (11), Fresno State (10), Utah State (8), Hawai’i (7), Wyoming (7), New Mexico (6), Air Force (5) and UNLV (1).

Nevada sophomore quarterback Carson Strong was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, while San José State junior defensive lineman Cade Hall was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. Boise State senior return specialist Avery Williams was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year and UNLV wide receiver Kyle Williams earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors. The Mountain West Coach of the Year Award went to San José State’s Brent Brennan.

Ali’ifua, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound senior offensive lineman from Hayward, Calif. (San Leandro HS), played in 312 offensive snaps this season and graded out at 87 percent as he started the first two games of the season at center and the last four at left guard. He finished the year with 18 knockdowns.

Bond, a 5-10, 190-pound senior safety from Decatur, Ill. (MacArthur HS/Southwestern JC), earned honorable mention all-MW honors for the second-straight season as he started all six games and finished second on the team and ninth in the MW with 7.8 tackles per game. Overall, he had 47 tackles, including 6.0 tackles for loss to rank second on the team, to go along with a team-best three pass breakups and one interception. He finished the year with three double-digit tackle games, including a season-high 12 stops against San Diego State. He also had a career-high two pass breakups against the Aztecs.

Heninger, a 6-2, 230-pound defensive end from South Jordan, Utah (Bingham HS/Utah), was third on the team with 42 tackles, and led the team with 3.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss as he started all six games at defensive end/outside linebacker. He also led the team with three forced fumbles, which tied for second in the MW and tied for fourth in the nation. He was also 10th in the MW in tackles for loss per game (1.2) and 15th in the MW in tackles per game (7.0).

During his senior season, Heninger had a career-high 14 tackles against Air Force for his first-career double-digit tackle game and was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week following his performance against New Mexico, as he posted eight tackles, to go along with a career-high-tying 2.0 sacks and a career-high-tying 3.0 tackles for loss, while forcing a career-best two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Moore, a 6-3, 280-pound senior defensive lineman from Pasadena, Calif. (Crespi HS/UCLA), started three of the five games he played in this season and finished the year with 20 tackles, including 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. He had a career-high seven tackles in his Aggie debut at Boise State and added six tackles, including a career-high 1.0 sacks, against Fresno State. He also had five tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, against San Diego State, to go along with a quarterback hurry.

Scarver, a 5-11, 180-pound senior kick returner from Las Vegas, Nev. (Centennial HS), returned 10 kickoffs for 314 yards (31.4 ypr), including a 94-yard return for touchdown against Fresno State. Of his 10 kickoff returns, three were for at least 30 yards. Overall, he was one of just four players in the MW and one of just 30 players nationally to return a kickoff for a touchdown this season and would have ranked second in the league in yards per return if he had enough returns to qualify, but played in just four games during the season.

Shaw, a 6-4, 305-pound sophomore offensive lineman from South Jordan, Utah (Herriman HS), played in 310 offensive snaps and graded out at 92 percent, which was the best on the team as he started all six games at right guard. He also had a team-best 23 knockdowns and did not allow a single sack all season.

Vongphachanh, a 6-3, 230-pound sophomore inside linebacker from Pasco, Wash. (Chiawana HS), started five of the six games he played in this season and finished the year leading the team with 50 tackles, which included 3.0 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, while adding one forced fumble and one safety. Overall, he ranked seventh in the MW and 65th in the nation in tackles with 8.3 per game. His best game of the season was at Nevada as he recorded a career-high 17 tackles, which included a career-high-tying 1.0 sacks and a career-high-tying 1.0 tackles for loss, that resulted in a safety. Those 17 tackles are tied for the third most in the MW this season and tied for 18th nationally.

Kotsanlee, a 6-1, 205-pound freshman punter from Melbourne, Australia (Box Hill HS), finished the season punting 37 times for an average of 40.7 yards per punt with 17 of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line. He also had four punts of at least 50 yards on the season, including a season-long of 63 yards, and not one of his punts ended up in the end zone for a touchback. Overall, he ranked fourth in the MW and 65th in the nation with his average of 40.7 yards per punt.

Official Mountain West Release:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Mountain West announced today its 2020 All-Conference football teams and individual award winners, as chosen by the 12 head coaches and a select media panel. Nevada sophomore quarterback Carson Strong has been honored as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, while San José State junior defensive lineman Cade Hall was named the MW Defensive Player of the Year. Boise State senior return specialist Avery Williams earned MW Special Teams Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season and UNLV wide receiver Kyle Williams has been selected as the MW Freshman of the Year. Brent Brennan of San José State is the MW Coach of the Year.



  • First Nevada player to earn Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Becomes the 16th quarterback to win the award.
  • First underclassman to be named MW Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Finished the regular season ranked top 15 nationally in completions per game (3rd; 28.4), passing yards per game (6th; 323.4), total passing yards (10th; 2,587), completion percentage (10th; 69.4) and passing touchdowns (12th; 22). Ranked 16th in total offense (310.9).
  • Leads the Mountain West with five 300-yard passing performances.
  • Recorded a pair of 400-yard passing games.
  • Threw for multiple touchdowns in seven of eight games.
  • Completed the regular season with a touchdown to interception ratio of 22 to 4.
  • Named MW Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 26 and Dec. 7.



  • First San José State player to earn the MW Defensive Player of the Year honor.
  • Led the Spartans to their first MW Football Championship Game.
  • Finished the regular season ranked fourth nationally in sacks per game (1.33) and 19th in tackles for loss per game (1.5).
  • Completed the regular season with 22 tackles, including 9.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks, and a fumble recovery.
  • Leads the Mountain West with 8.0 sacks.
  • Recorded at least one sack in four of six games.
  • In a victory against UNLV, recorded single-game career highs with 4.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. The 4.0 tackles for loss were tied for ninth-most nationally, while the 3.0 sacks were sixth-best in the FBS this season.
  • Named MW Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 16.



  • Earned Special Teams Player of the Year in back-to-back years.
  • Fourth player in league history to earn this honor in consecutive years, joining San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny (2015-17), TCU’s Jeremy Kerley (2009-10) and Utah’s Louie Sakoda (2006-08).
  • As the Broncos’ primary punt returner, leads the Mountain West with 11.4 yards per return, a figure which ranks ninth nationally.
  • Third in the MW and ninth nationally with a 29.6-yard kickoff return average.
  • Nation’s only player to rank in the top 10 in both punt returns and kickoff returns.
  • Ranks fifth nationally with 575 combined kickoff and punt return yards.
  • Leads the MW and tied for fifth nationally with a pair of blocked kicks, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
  • Only player in the Mountain West with multiple special teams touchdowns.
  • Named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 2 and Nov. 16.



  • Fifth UNLV player to earn the MW Freshman of the Year honor and first since Armani Rogers in 2017.
  • Becomes just the sixth wide receiver to earn the award.
  • Ranks third in the nation among all freshmen with 5.8 receptions per game, a figure which ranks sixth in the MW.
  • Set the program record for receptions per game by a freshman.
  • Eighth in the league with 71.0 receiving yards per contest.
  • Led the Rebels in receptions (35) and receiving yards (426).
  • Recorded single-game career highs in receptions (10) and receiving yards (144) at Hawai‘i on Dec. 12.



  • First San José State head coach to earn the honor.
  • Selected as Mountain West Coach of the Year after leading San José State to a perfect 6-0 overall record in the regular season.
  • Led the Spartans to their first MW Football Championship Game and first top-25 national ranking since 2012.
  • Opened the season 6-0 for the first time since 1939.
  • Guided one of the most dangerous defenses in the nation, ranking 14th in sacks (3.2 per game) and 13th in scoring defense (17.5 points allowed per game).



  1. Boise State’s Avery Williams, who earned first team cornerback, punt return and kick return honors and was named MW Special Teams Player of the Year, is the first student-athlete to win four honors in a single season since San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny in 2017.
  2. Tariq Thompson (San Diego State – Defensive Back) has been an all-conference honoree in all four years of his collegiate career, earning second-team recognition from 2017-19 and first team in 2020.
  3. Four student-athletes were repeat MW First Team All-Conference selections from 2019.
  4. Boise State has had at least one first team All-Conference offensive lineman in each of its 10 seasons in the MW.
  5. Boise State and Nevada leads the MW with 10 first and second team selections, while San Diego State is third with nine.
  6. After winning the 2020 MW Offensive Player of the Year honor, Carson Strong (Nevada – Quarterback) is the first underclassman to win the award.


Offensive Player of the Year – Carson Strong, So., QB, Nevada

Defensive Player of the Year – Cade Hall, Jr., DL, San José State

Special Teams Player of the Year – Avery Williams, Sr., RS, Boise State

Freshman of the Year – Kyle Williams, WR, UNLV

Coach of the Year – Brent Brennan, San José State




Pos.      Player                           Cl.        Team

QB        Carson Strong               So.       Nevada

WR       Khalil Shakir                 Jr.        Boise State

WR       Romeo Doubs                Jr.        Nevada

WR       Bailey Gaither               Sr.        San José State

RB        Ronnie Rivers               Sr.        Fresno State

RB        Xazavian Valladay*        Jr.        Wyoming

TE        Cole Turner                   Jr.        Nevada

OL        Parker Ferguson            Sr.        Air Force

OL        Nolan Laufenberg*        Sr.        Air Force

OL        Kyle Spalding                Sr.        San Diego State

OL        Jack Snyder                  Sr.        San José State

OL        Keegan Cryder               Jr.        Wyoming

PK        Brandon Talton             So.       Nevada

KR        Avery Williams              Sr.        Boise State


Pos.      Player                           Cl.        Team

DL        Scott Patchan               Sr.        Colorado State

DL        Cameron Thomas*         So.       San Diego State

DL        Cade Hall                      Jr.        San José State

DL        Viliami Fehoko              So.       San José State

LB        Darius Muasau              So.       Hawai‘i

LB        Caden McDonald           Jr.        San Diego State

LB        Kyle Harmon                 Jr.        San José State

LB        Chad Muma                  Jr.        Wyoming

DB        Avery Williams              Sr.        Boise State

DB        Jerrick Reed                  Jr.        New Mexico

DB        Darren Hall                   Jr.        San Diego State

DB        Tariq Thompson            Sr.        San Diego State

P          Ryan Stonehouse**       Sr.        Colorado State

PR        Avery Williams*            Sr.        Boise State

*Two-Time First-Team Selection | **Three-Time First-Team Selection




Pos.      Player                           Cl.        Team

QB        Nick Starkel                  Sr.        San José State

WR       Dante Wright                 So.       Colorado State

WR       Calvin Turner                Sr.        Hawai‘i

WR       Tre Walker                    Sr.        San José State

RB        Toa Taua                       Jr.        Nevada

RB        Greg Bell                      Sr.        San Diego State

TE        Trey McBride                Jr.        Colorado State

OL        John Ojukwu                 Jr.        Boise State

OL        Jake Stetz                     Sr.        Boise State

OL        Syrus Tuitele                 Sr.        Fresno State

OL        Aaron Frost                   Jr.        Nevada

OL        Zachary Thomas            Sr.        San Diego State

PK        John Hoyland                Fr.        Wyoming

KR        Jordan Byrd                   Jr.        San Diego State


Pos.      Player                           Cl.        Team

DL        Shane Irwin                   Jr.        Boise State

DL        David Perales                Jr.        Fresno State

DL        Dom Peterson               Jr.        Nevada

DL        Sam Hammond             Sr.        Nevada

LB        Riley Whimpey*            Sr.        Boise State

LB        Dequan Jackson            Jr.        Colorado State

LB        Lawson Hall                  Sr.        Nevada

LB        Brandon Shook              Sr.        New Mexico

DB        Kekaula Kaniho             Sr.        Boise State

DB        Jalen Walker*               Sr.        Boise State

DB        Cortez Davis                  Sr.        Hawai‘i

DB        Tre Jenkins                   So.       San José State

P          Tanner Kuljian              Sr.        San Diego State

PR        Romeo Doubs                Jr.        Nevada

*Two-Time Second-Team Selection | ** Three-Time Second-Team Selection



Air Force:             Kyle Krepsz, Sr., OL; Brad Roberts, So., RB; George Silvanic, Sr., DL

Boise State:          John Bates, Sr., TE; Garrett Curran, So., OL; Jonah Dalmas, Fr., PK; Scott Matlock, So., DL;

Ezekiel Noa, Jr., LB; CT Thomas, Sr., WR; Andrew Van Buren, Jr., RB

Colorado State:      Elijah Johnson, Jr., OL; Manny Jones, Sr., DL; Toby McBride, Sr., DL; Thomas Pannunzio, Jr., KR;

Cam Reddy, So., OL; Barry Wesley, Jr., OL; Dante Wright, So., PR

Fresno State:         Kevin Atkins, Sr., DL; Levelle Bailey, So., LB; Jalen Cropper, So., WR; Jake Haener, Jr., QB;

Kwami Jones, Sr., DL; Keric Wheatfall, Sr., WR; Evan Williams, So., DB

Hawai‘i:                Chevan Cordeiro, So., QB; Quentin Frazier, Sr., DB; Jared Smart, Sr., WR; Blessman Ta’ala, Jr., DL

Nevada:                Julian Diaz, Sr., P; Jacob Gardner, Fr., OL; Jermaine Ledbetter, Sr., OL; Tyler Orsini, Sr., OL;

BerDale Robins, Sr., DB; Tyson Williams, Jr., DB

New Mexico:         Bobby Cole, Jr., RB; Joey Noble, Sr., DL; Teton Saltes, Sr., OL; Kyle Stapley, Sr., OL

San Diego State:    Matt Araiza, So., PK; Keshawn Banks, Jr., DL; Daniel Bellinger, Jr., TE; Tyler Hawkins, Sr., DB;

Dwayne Johnson, Jr., Sr., DB; Jonah Tavai, Jr., DL

San José State:      Derrick Deese, Jr., Sr., TE; Matt Mercurio, So., PK; Tre Webb, Sr., DB

UNLV:                   Jacoby Windmon, So., DL

Utah State:            Demytrick Ali’ifua, Sr., OL; Shaq Bond, Sr., DB; Nick Heninger, Sr., DL; Stephen Kotsanlee, Fr., P;

Marcus Moore, Sr., DL; Savon Scarver, Sr., KR; Karter Shaw, So., OL; AJ Vongphachanh, So., LB

Wyoming:             Esaias Gandy, Sr., DB; Logan Harris, Sr., OL; Isaiah Neyor, Fr., WR

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