Utah State football celebrates 2014 campaign with team banquet Thursday

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football held its end of season banquet Thursday night, honoring the 2014 team that finished the year with a 10-4 record for the second-most wins in school history. The 2014 team defeated UTEP, 21-6, in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl to post back-to-back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its fourth-straight bowl game, also a first in school history.

Utah State finished the 2014 season by winning six of its final seven games and received top-25 votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls at season’s end.

Along with handing out individual awards, two highlight videos recapping the year were shown, as was a video honoring USU’s senior class, which is the winningest class in school history with its 37 victories. Utah State players and team personnel were presented their Gildan New Mexico Bowl Championship ring during the evening and players were also given their 2014 road jerseys.

During the banquet, Utah State recognized 10 players who received its annual team awards as linebacker Zach Vigil was presented with the Aggies’ Team MVP award, offensive tackle Kevin Whimpey and wide receiver/punt returner JoJo Natson were named co-Offensive MVP’s, defensive end B.J. Larsen was named the Defensive MVP and punter Jaron Bentrude was named the Special Team’s MVP. Tight end Jefferson Court was named the Most Improved Offensive Player and safety Frankie Sutera was named the Most Improved Defensive Player.

Running back Joe Hill was named Comeback Player of the Year, while offensive tackle Jake Simonich was honored with the Iron Aggie Award for strength and conditioning. Scout team Offensive MVP honors went to wide receiver Andrew Rodriguez, while linebacker Derek Larsen earned scout team Defensive MVP honors.

Utah State also recognized its 15 players that earned various all-Mountain West honors at season’s end as B.J. Larsen, Natson, Sutera, linebacker Nick Vigil, Zach Vigil and Whimpey all earned first-team honors, while placekicker Nick Diaz was named to the second-team. USU also had nine players earn honorable mention honors in Bentrude, safety Devin Centers, nose guard Elvis Kamana-Matagi, Natson, defensive end Jordan Nielsen, wide receiver Hunter Sharp, Simonich, center Austin Stephens and safety Brian Suite.

Zach Vigil was recognized again for earning All-America honors as he was named a second-team All-American by USA Today Sports, a third-team All-American by Phil Steele, a fourth-team All-American by Athlon Sports and an honorable mention All-American by SI.com, along with being named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, while cornerback Jalen Davis was named a true freshman All-American by 247Sports. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was also recognized for being named to the All State AFCA Good Works Team.

Zach Vigil was also recognized for being named the Defensive MVP of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, while quarterback Kent Myers was named the Offensive MVP.

Along with honoring those players who excelled on the field, USU also recognized 21 players who earned academic all-conference honors in 2014, which were the second-most in the Mountain West. Those players included defensive end Ricky Ali’ifua, linebacker Jarom Baldomero, Bentrude, cornerback Austin Cheney, linebacker LT Filiaga, cornerback Tyler Floyd, long snapper Salanoa Galea’i, cornerback Daniel Gray, cornerback Deshane Hines, tight end Wyatt Houston, B.J. Larsen, nose guard David Moala, Myers, Nielsen, linebacker Michael Okonkwo, nose guard Travis Seefeldt, Simonich, Suite, Zach Vigil, offensive guard Bryce Walker and wide receiver Tyler Weese.

Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.

Utah State Team Awards

Scout Offensive MVP – Andrew Rodriguez

Scout Defensive MVP – Derek Larsen

Most Improved Offensive Player – Jefferson Court

Most Improved Defensive Player – Frankie Sutera

Comeback Player of the Year – Joe Hill

Iron Aggie – Jake Simonich

Special Teams MVP – Jaron Bentrude

Defensive MVP – B.J. Larsen

Co-Offensive MVP – Kevin Whimpey and JoJo Natson

Team MVP – Zach Vigil

All-Mountain West Honors

Defensive Player of the Year – Zach Vigil

First Team – B.J. Larsen, JoJo Natson, Frankie Sutera, Nick Vigil, Zach Vigil, Kevin Whimpey

Second Team – Nick Diaz

Honorable Mention – Jaron Bentrude, Devin Centers, Elvis Kamana-Matagi, JoJo Natson, Jordan Nielsen, Hunter Sharp, Jake Simonich, Austin Stephens, Brian Suite

Academic All-Mountain West

Ricky Ali’ifua, Jarom Baldomero, Jaron Bentrude, Austin Cheney, LT Filiaga, Tyler Floyd, Salanoa Galea’i, Daniel Gray, Deshane Hines, Wyatt Houston, B.J. Larsen, David Moala, Kent Myers, Jordan Nielsen, Michael Okonkwo, Travis Seefeldt, Jake Simonich, Brian Suite, Zach Vigil, Bryce Walker, Tyler Weese

All State AFCA Goods Works Team

Chuckie Keeton

All-American

Second Team – Zach Vigil (USA Today Sports)

Third Team – Zach Vigil (Phil Steele)

Fourth Team – Zach Vigil (Athlon Sports)

Honorable Mention – Zach Vigil (SI.com)

Freshman – Jalen Davis (247Sports)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Offensive MVP – Kent Myers

Defensive MVP – Zach Vigil

-USU-

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