LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Utah State was picked fifth in both the 2011 Western Athletic Conference football coaches’ poll and the league’s media poll, which were released by the conference office Thursday at the opening of the conference preview, held in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Orleans Hotel and Arena. This marks the second-straight season that USU has been picked in the top five of the conference, after being tabbed fourth in last year’s coaches’ poll. “The WAC is traditionally one of the quality conferences in the country and this year is no exception. There are not any surprises with the polls,” third-year USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “The top three teams have proven themselves with the consistency that they have had with their records and going to bowl games the last few years. I believe it is going to be a very competitive conference throughout and we are looking forward to the season.” “We are now focusing our attention to the start of fall camp and get our minds and bodies right to have a great fall camp which will lead to a great season. However, in the end, it is not as important where you are picked in the preseason polls, but where you finish on the field and in the final standings,” Andersen continued. The media also voted on preseason players of the year, selecting USU senior linebacker Bobby Wagner as the Defensive Player of the Year, while Hawai’i senior quarterback Bryant Moniz was voted the Offensive Player of the Year. “I am extremely honored and humbled to be recognized by the media as the WAC’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year,” Wagner said. “There are a lot of talented players in this league and to recognized as the top defensive player is a tremendous honor. I am very grateful. I am also even more motivated to continue the hard work that got me here and have a solid season to show that I deserve this honor.” Wagner is the first USU player to earn a preseason WAC honor since the Aggies joined the league in 2005. It is Utah State’s first conference preseason honor since 2004 when Ronald Tupea and Robert Watts were named to the Sun Belt preseason first-team all-conference team. The WAC does not have a preseason all-conference team. “It is a great honor for Bobby to be considered by the league’s media as the best defensive player in the conference,” Andersen said. “We are extremely happy for Bobby. He is not only an outstanding leader on and off the field, but he is the catalyst for our entire defense, because he does things the right way. He never has been motivated by individual honors or individual stats. Bobby strives for team goals and team success, and his number one priority is to help this team compete for a WAC title and a bowl game.” The Aggies received one first-place vote in the media poll, finishing with 166 points. Hawai’i received 292 points and 18 first-place votes from media members around the WAC and the nation. Fresno State was picked second after garnering 284 points and 11 first-place votes. Nevada finished third with 264 points and 11 first-place votes. Louisiana Tech was selected fourth with 184 points followed by Utah State (166), Idaho (141), San Jose State (85) and New Mexico State (60). The teams were in the same order in the coaches’ poll, with Hawai’i received 47 points from the eight WAC coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own teams. Fresno State was in second with 41 points followed closely by Nevada with 40. Louisiana Tech was selected fourth with 31 points followed by Utah State with 22 points, Idaho (21), San Jose State (15) and New Mexico State (7). Wagner, a native of Ontario, Calif. (Colony HS) is a two-time first-team all-WAC honoree. Last season, he led the WAC and ranked tied for seventh in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with 11.1 tackles per game, ranking second in the WAC with 133 total tackles in 2010 season. Wagner enters his senior season nearing USU’s and WAC’s career tackles list, as he currently has 299 career stops, needing 22 tackles to break into the Aggies’ top 10 list and 18 stop to crack the WAC’s top 10. In 2010, Wagner tallied a WAC-best four 15+ tackle outings, including two 17-stop games, a 16-tackle game and a 15-tackle outing. Last season, he logged a total of seven double-digit tackle games, and had at least six stops in all 12 games. Additionally, Wagner added eight tackles for loss with half a sack, as well as four pass breakups and one forced fumble. Moniz, a senior quarterback from Wahiawa, O’ahu (Fresno City College), was the nation’s leader in passing and total offense last season. Last year, he became just the 11th player in FBS history to surpass 5,000 passing yards in a season. He set four school records including most yards passing in a game with 560 against San Jose State. He averaged 360.0 passing yards per game and also led the nation in passing touchdowns (39) and ranked eighth in passing efficiency (159.11). Moniz led the Warriors to a 10-4 record, share of the WAC championship and an appearance in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl. Wagner is one of Utah State’s 46 returning letterwinners (29 offense, 16 defense, one special teams), including 17 starters (10 offense, six defense, one special teams), from last season’s 4-8 overall mark, and 2-6 in WAC play, in Andersen’s second season at the helm of the Aggie program. After its season-opener at Auburn, Utah State’s home opener is on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. (MT), taking on in-state foe Weber State, marking the first time that USU and WSU have squared off since 2001, and Utah State leads the all-time series, 11-1. The Aggie-Wildcat match-up will have special meaning for Andersen, who will be facing his mentor, Weber State head coach Ron McBride. Andersen played for McBride at Utah in 1985-86. For USU football ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305. Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics. WAC MEDIA POLL Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Points 1. Hawai’i (18) 292 2. Fresno State (11) 284 3. Nevada (11) 264 4. Louisiana Tech 184 5. UTAH STATE (1) 166 6. Idaho 141 7. San Jose State 85 8. New Mexico State 60 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Bryant Moniz, Hawai’i, SR, QB Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Bobby Wagner, Utah State, SR, LB WAC COACHES’ POLL Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Points 1. Hawai’i (5) 47 2. Fresno State (1) 41 3. Nevada (2) 40 4. Louisiana Tech 31 5. UTAH STATE 22 6. Idaho 21 7. San Jose State 15 8. New Mexico State 7 -USU-
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