Phil Steele Magazine places nine Aggies on preseason All-Mountain West football team

FILE - Utah State wide receiver Savon Scarver returns a kickoff during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Eli Lucero)

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.

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.

Phil Steele Magazine 2020 Preseason All-Mountain West Teams

First-Team Offense

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

First-Team Defense

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

First-Team Specialists

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

Second-Team Offense

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

Second-Team Defense

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

Second-Team Specialists

K – Brandon Talton, Nevada

P – Tyson Dyer, New Mexico

KR – Melquise Stovall, Hawai’i

PR – Dante Wright, Colorado State

LS – Ross Reiter, Colorado State

Third-Team Offense

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

Third-Team Defense

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

Third-Team Specialists

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

 

Fourth-Team Offense

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

Fourth-Team Defense

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

Fourth-Team Specialists

– Daniel Gutierrez, UNLV

P – Stan Gaudion, Hawai’i

KR  – Tyleek Collins, UNLV

PR – Romeo Dobbs, Nevada

LS – Conner Kirkegaard, Air Force

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