USU football: eight players named to Athlon Sports 2014 Preseason all-Mountain West teams

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, June 17 2014 2:57 p.m. MDT

Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton in action against San Jose State during an NCAA college football game on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in San Jose, Calif.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Utah State football had eight players named to Athlon Sports 2014 Preseason all-Mountain West teams, it was announced Tuesday. Three offensive players, four defensive players and one specialist were recognized for the Aggies.

Boise State had the most preseason selections with 11, while Colorado State had 10, and Utah State and Fresno State each had eight. Wyoming had seven preseason selections, followed by Nevada (6), San Diego State (6), UNLV (6), San Jose State (5), Hawai’i (4), New Mexico (4) and Air Force (3).

Senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, senior linebacker Zach Vigil and junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell were named to the preseason all-Mountain West first team. Senior defensive end B.J. Larsen, senior safety Brian Suite, senior offensive tackle Kevin Whimpey and junior punt returner JoJo Natson were named to the second team, while senior running back Joe Hill was selected to Athlon Sports preseason all-Mountain West third team.

Keeton, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback from Houston, Texas (Cypress Creek HS), was one of 30 players named to the first edition of the 2013 Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Trophy Watch List as a junior a year ago, but he played in just six games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter against BYU on Oct. 4. Prior to his injury, Keeton had completed 136-of-196 passes for 1,388 yards (231.3 ypg) with 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while rushing for another 241 yards on 55 carries (402 ypg/4.4 ypc) with two more scores. Overall, that completion percentage of 69.4 percent broke his own single-season school record set in 2012, while his 18 touchdown passes rank tied for ninth all-time in school history.

Through his first five games of the 2013 season, Keeton ranked second in the nation with 17 touchdown passes, while also ranking first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in points responsible for (22.8 pg), second in the MW and 22nd in the nation in passing efficiency (161.6), third in the MW and eighth in the nation in completions (26.4), third in the MW and 11th in the nation in completion percentage (.710), third in the MW and 18th in the nation in total offense (317.2 ypg), and fourth in the MW and 25th in the nation in passing (272.4 ypg). Keeton also tied the school record with five touchdown passes in a game twice during his junior year, doing so in a 52-20 win at Air Force and again in a 70-6 home win against Weber State.

As a sophomore in 2012, Keeton earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors after ranking 17th nationally in total offense (307.1 ypg), 18th in passing efficiency (154.7) and 29th in passing (259.5 ypg). During the 2012 season, Keeton set single-season school records for touchdown passes (27), passing yards (3,373), completions (275), completion percentage (.676) and total offense (3,992 yards), while tying the single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 121 yards at Louisiana Tech.

Entering his senior season, Keeton is one of 25 college football players named to the first edition of the 2014 Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Trophy Watch List, one of 17 players named to the 2014 Bleacher Report's Initial Heisman Trophy Watch List and a first team preseason all-Mountain West selection by Phil Steele.

Vigil, a 6-2, 232-pounder from Clearfield, Utah (Clearfield HS), earned second team all-Mountain West honors a year ago as he ranked second on the team, seventh in the conference and 42nd in the nation with 8.9 tackles per game. Overall, he finished the year with 124 total tackles (47-solo, 77-assist), which was tied for the 17th most in the nation at the FBS level. In all, his 47 solo tackles led the team, while he was also tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also ranked second on the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and was tied for fifth overall with 2.0 sacks, while adding one interception, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry.

Vigil is also a preseason first team all-Mountain West selection by Phil Steele heading into the 2014 season.

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