Utah State football player Bobby Wagner has accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Senior Bowl.
Wagner will play on the North squad, which will be coached by Leslie Frazier and his Minnesota Vikings staff. The 63rd Senior Bowl is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala.’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and all practices will be televised by NFL Network.
“It’s a big honor to be recognized among the top seniors in the country. It is a great opportunity to showcase my talents against other talented seniors in the country and show that I’m worthy of this honor,” Wagner said. “I’m excited to represent the Utah State Aggies in this national showcase.”
Wagner, a native of Ontario, Calif. (Colony HS), led the Western Athletic Conference and ranked eighth in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in tackles with 11.3 per game, ranking tied for fourth in the FBS in total tackles with 147 on the season.
Wagner earned first-team All-WAC accolades for the third-straight season and was a strong candidate for the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. In the Aggies’ 13 games this season, Wagner posted nine double-digit tackle outings, highlighted by a career-high 20 stops against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 22, while adding 18 stops against Colorado State on Sept. 24.
“This is a tremendous honor for Bobby to play in this prestigious all-star game. It is very well-deserving for him to be selected to play in this game as one of the premier seniors in the country,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for him to get exposure and showcase his talents for the chance to play at the next level.”
The NFL Network can be seen on Comcast Ch. 180 or 675 HD in Cache Valley, as well as Ch. 154 on Dish Network or Ch. 212 on DirectTV.
The Senior Bowl annually features the country’s best senior collegiate football players and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South that are coached by the entire coaching staffs of two National Football League teams.
After a seven-year drought for a Utah State player to be selected to the Senior Bowl, this is the second-straight season for an Aggie to be invited to the prestigious game, as cornerback Curtis Marsh was selected for the 2011 game, but could not play due to an injury.
Prior to Marsh, the last time that a USU player was selected was tight end Chris Cooley in 2004. Overall, Wagner is the 16th USU player selected to the Senior Bowl since 1962.
Wagner also led the USU defensive unit with 11.5 tackles for loss, adding four sacks and also led the Aggies with two interceptions — he had one in the Wyoming game and the other one sealed USU’s wild double-overtime win at Idaho, ending the game with a pick at the goalline on Idaho’s final possession.
Wagner also had one fumble recovery on the season, which came in USU’s bowl eligibility-clinching win over Nevada. It came on a fourth-and-1 play from the USU 12 with just over five minutes left, as Nevada was driving for the go-ahead score. Wolf Pack QB Tyler Lantrip ran an option play, and had the first down, but was stripped of the football and Wagner recovered to thwart the threat and send USU bowl bound. Wagner posted a total of 15 tackles in the Nevada game, including half a tackle for loss, earning WAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
With 147 tackles on the season, Wagner ascended both USU’s and the WAC’s Single-Season Tackles list, finishing at No. 5 on the Aggies’ yearly list and No. 7 on the WAC’s season list.
For his career, Wagner ended with 446 tackles as an Aggie, the most in the WAC since 1999 and tied for the USU record since 1979. Wagner is just the third Aggie since 1979 and the fourth WAC player since 1999 to reach the 400-tackle milestone.
Wagner helped Utah State post a historic season with a 7-6 record, its first seven-win season since 1993, capping its season with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, losing to Ohio in a 24-23 thriller. Five of USU’s losses were by one score or less, and 10 of the Aggies’ games were decided by one score this season — the most in the nation.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program on Twitter (@USUFootball) or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@USUAthletics) or on Facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University.