Utah State football has 10 players named to Phil Steele’s 2014 Preseason All-Mountain West teams

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, June 3 2014 4:35 p.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, June 3 2014 4:35 p.m. MDT

Houston, a 6-5, 245-pounder from Tualatin, Oregon, (Horizon Christian HS) played the final seven games of the season and made three starts as a freshman after beginning the year as a potential redshirt, and finished the season with seven receptions for 118 yards (16.9 ypr) with two touchdowns.

Nielsen, a 6-5, 270-pounder from Lewiston, Utah, (Sky View HS) played in 14 games as a sophomore with one start and finished the season with 35 total tackles (9 solo, 26 assists) to go along with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Nielsen earned second-team all-WAC honors after ranking tied for third on the team and tied for ninth in the conference with five 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 returns 14 starters (offense 6, defense 5, Special teams 3) as part of 40 letterwinners (offense 18, defense 19, special teams 3) from last year's 9-5 team that won the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference, played in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game, and defeated No. 24 Northern Illinois, 21-14, in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Utah State concluded the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games to tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, Utah State posted back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its third-straight bowl game, also a first at USU. Utah State also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West Conference.

Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls with two votes each, marking the second time in as many years that USU has concluded the season ranked among the top teams in the nation as the 2012 team was ranked 16th in the final AP poll, 17th in the final coaches' poll and 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings.

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.

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

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