USU football: 11 Aggies named to Phil Steele’s 2013 Preseason All-Mountain West team

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, May 28 2013 11:46 a.m. MDT

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football had 11 players named to Phil Steele’s 2013 Preseason All-Mountain West team, it was recently announced as four offensive players, six defensive players and one specialist were recognized for the Aggies.

Fresno State and San Jose State had the most preseason selections with 12 each, while Utah State, Boise State and San Diego State all had 11. Colorado State and Nevada had 10 preseason selections each, followed by New Mexico (9), Air Force (8), UNLV (7), Wyoming (6) and Hawai’i (5).

Senior center Tyler Larsen was the only Aggie to be named to the preseason All-MW first-team, while sophomore linebacker Kyler Fackrell, senior defensive back Nevin Lawson, senior offensive guard Jamie Markosian, senior offensive tackle Eric Schultz and senior defensive end Connor Williams were all members of the second-team. Aggies selected to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-MW third-team include senior linebacker Jake Doughty and junior linebacker Zach Vigil, while junior placekicker Nick Diaz, junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton and sophomore defensive end Jordan Nielsen were all named to the fourth-team.

Larsen, a 6-foot-4, 312-pounder from Salt Lake City, Utah (Jordan HS), enters his senior season having started 38 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak on the team. Larsen is a two-time first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honoree and the first USU offensive lineman to accomplish that feat since 1997.

Larsen is also one of 44 players on the 2013 Rimington Trophy Watch List, which is given annually to the nation's most outstanding center in college football.

During the 2012 season, Larsen tied for the team lead along with Schultz with an 86 percent overall performance grade, including 78 percent in technique and 83 percent in effort. He carried out the right assignment 97 percent of the time, including four games where he graded out at a perfect 100 percent. He also graded out above 90 percent two times in total performance, and above 80 percent 12 times in effort and seven times in technique. Overall, he posted 65.5 knockdowns on the season.

Fackrell, a 6-5, 245-pounder from Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS), earned first-team All-WAC honors and was the first Aggie in school history named a Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American a year ago as he finished the season ranking second on the team and eighth in the WAC with three interceptions (0.23 pg), third on the team and 13th in the WAC with 8.0 tackles for loss (0.62 pg), and fourth on the team and 13th in the WAC with 87 tackles (6.7 pg). Those 87 stops rank tied for third all-time at Utah State among freshmen. He also finished second on the team with seven quarterback hurries, to go along with 3.0 sacks and three pass breakups.

Lawson, a 5-10, 186-pounder from Lauderhill, Fla. (Piper HS), earned second-team All-WAC honors a year ago as he ranked eighth on the team and 36th in the conference with 63 tackles (4.8 pg). He also ranked second on the team and ninth in the WAC with 10 passes defended (0.77 pg).

Markosian, a 6-2, 302-pounder from Salt Lake City, Utah (Juan Diego HS), earned second-team All-WAC honors a year ago as he graded out at 84 percent for overall performance. In all, he carried out the right assignment 98 percent of the time, including four games where he graded out at a perfect 100 percent. He also graded out above 80 percent 12 times in total performance and seven times in effort, while posting 67.0 knockdowns on the season and allowed only two sacks.

Schultz, a 6-4, 308-pounder from Connell, Wash. (Connell HS), earned first-team All-WAC honors a year ago as he tied for the team lead along Larsen with an 86 percent overall performance grade, including 77 percent in technique and 82 percent in effort. He carried out the right assignment 98 percent of the time, including three games with a perfect 100 percent. He also graded out above 85 percent 10 times in total performance, and above 80 percent 10 times in effort and six times in technique. He finished the year with 44.0 knockdowns and only allowed 1.5 sacks during the season.

Williams, a 6-3, 278-pounder from Kanata, Ontario, Canada (Holy Trinity HS), earned honorable mention All-WAC honors a year ago after ranking first on the team, fifth in the conference and tied for 91st in the nation with 6.0 sacks (0.46 pg). He also ranked fourth on the team and 19th in the WAC with 7.0 tackles for loss (0.54 pg) and finished the year with 32 tackles (15-solo, 17-assists) to rank third on the team among defensive linemen.

Doughty, a 6-0, 230-pounder from Draper, Utah (Juan Diego HS), earned first-team All-WAC honors in 2012 after leading the team, ranking second in the conference and tied for 71st in the nation with 109 tackles (8.4 pg). He also recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack during the season, to go along with four pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.

Vigil, a 6-2, 231-pounder from Clearfield, Utah (Clearfield HS), earned second-team All-WAC honors a year ago as he ranked second on the team, fifth in the conference and 84th in the nation with 105 tackles (8.1 pg). He also led the team and ranked tied for sixth in the WAC with 9.5 tackles for loss (0.73 pg), and second on the team and tied for seventh in the WAC with 5.5 sacks (0.42 pg). He was also third on the team with five quarterback hurries and added one pass breakup.

Diaz, a 5-8, 193-pounder from Redondo Beach, Calif., served as Utah State’s placekicker the final seven games of the 2012 season and made 10-of-13 (.769) field goals to rank eighth all-time at USU for a single season in percentage. He also made all 40 of his extra points to rank tied for first all-time in school history for a single season as his 40 extra points made ranks second all-time at USU for a single-season, while his 40 attempts ranks third.

Keeton, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Houston, Texas (Cypress Creek HS), earned first-team All-WAC honors in 2012 as he ranked third in the conference and 17th nationally in total offense (307.1 ypg), second in the WAC and 18th in the nation in passing efficiency (154.7), third in the WAC and 29th nationally in passing (259.5 ypg, and eighth in the conference in rushing (47.6 ypg). He finished the year completing 275-of-407 passes for 3,373 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions and rushed for 619 yards on 129 carries (4.8 ypc) with eight touchdowns. He finished his sophomore season by setting single-season school records for touchdown passes (27), passing yards (3,992), completions (275) and completion percentage (.676), while his 407 pass attempts rank seventh all-time at USU for a single season. He was also named the WAC’s Offensive Player of the Week four times during the season, becoming the first player in school history to accomplish that feat and the first WAC player to do so since 2010.

Nielsen, a 6-5, 260-pounder from Lewiston, Utah (Sky View HS), earned second-team All-WAC honors a year ago after ranking tied for third on the team and tied for ninth in the conference with 5.0 sacks (0.38 pg), and fifth on the team and 20th in the WAC with 6.5 tackles for loss (0.50). He finished the season tied for first on the team among defensive linemen with 35 tackles and led the team with two blocked kicks, while recording three quarterback hurries and one pass breakup on the year.

Utah State opens the 2013 season Thursday, Aug. 29, at Utah and plays its first Mountain West game the following weekend at Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 7. USU's first home game of the 2013 campaign is Saturday, Sept. 14, against Weber State, while its first home Mountain West game is Saturday, Oct. 12, against Boise State.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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