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.
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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
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