LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football had seven players named to College Sports Madness’ 2013 Preseason all-Mountain West teams, as two offensive players and five defensive players were recognized.
Fresno State and San Jose State had the most preseason selections with 10 each, while Colorado State had nine and San Diego State had eight. Utah State, Boise State and New Mexico all had seven preseason selections, while Air Force, Nevada and UNLV each had five selections, followed by Hawai’i (4) and Wyoming (1).
Senior center Tyler Larsen and senior offensive tackle Eric Schultz were the only Aggies named to the preseason all-Mountain West first-team, while senior linebacker Jake Doughty was the only Aggie named to the preseason all-Mountain West second-team. Aggies selected to College Sports Madness’ preseason all-Mountain West third-team include sophomore linebacker Kyler Fackrell, senior defensive back Nevin Lawson, sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Nielsen and senior defensive lineman Connor Williams.
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 in the Mountain West. 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, who was also named a first-team preseason all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, 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. Larsen is also a fourth-team preseason All-America selection by Phil Steele.
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.
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 with 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 where he graded out at 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.
Schultz was also named preseason second-team all-Mountain West by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
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.
Doughty was also named preseason third-team all-Mountain West by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
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.
Fackrell, is also one of 41 players named to the College Football Performance Awards Linebackers Watch List, as well as being a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports and a preseason second-team all-Mountain West selection by Phil Steele.
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).
Lawson was also named preseason second-team all-Mountain West by Phil Steele and to the preseason all-Mountain West third-team by Athlon Sports.
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.
Nielsen was also named preseason fourth-team all-Mountain West by Phil Steele.
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.
Williams was also named preseason second-team all-Mountain West by Phil Steele.
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Utah State returns 49 lettermen and 18 starters from its most successful team in school history as USU ended the 2012 season with a school-best 11-2 record as it set school records for wins (11) and home wins (6), while recording just its second bowl win in school history with a 41-15 victory against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. USU also won its first outright conference championship since 1936, as it went 6-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Utah State will open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29, at Utah and play its first Mountain West game the following weekend at Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 7. USU's first home game of the 2013 campaign will be Saturday, Sept. 14, against Weber State, while its first home Mountain West game will be Saturday, Oct. 12, against Boise State.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.