Since we're less than 100 days away from football season and most college sports fans are already getting antsy, the prognostications are already in full swing for the fall and what the new Mountain West might look like.
Phil Steele has become one of the best-known college football guides, and this year he's included 11 Aggies in his four — yes, FOUR — all-Mountain West preseason teams. You might be surprised where some players ended up.
• First team: C Tyler Larsen
• Second team: LB Kyler Fackrell, DB Nevin Lawson, OG Jamie Markosian, OT Eric Schultz, DE Connor Williams
• Third team: LB Jake Doughty, LB Zach Vigil
• Fourth team: K Nick Diaz, QB Chuckie Keeton, DL Jordan Nielsen
Interesting to note that three linebackers and three offensive linemen are all honored. Experience also matters in this ranking, although Fackrell and Nielsen are only sophomores.
The one a lot of Utah State fans won't like is probably Chuckie Keeton sitting behind three other Mountain West quarterbacks. But that is representative of how tough the conference is at the QB position. Fresno State's Derek Carr (1st), San Jose State's David Fales (2nd) and Nevada's Cody Fajardo (3rd) all had spectacular seasons in 2012. It's fairly neck-and-neck between all of them in some ways, though they all have different strengths.
Aggies probably also won't be happy with only one player on the first team. Of all the teams in the Mountain West, Fresno State and San Jose State had the most all-MWC selections with 12 apiece, and SJSU led the pack with seven first-team picks. It could add a bit more fuel to the fire for Utah State's game against the Spartans on ESPN this fall.
Hawaii had the fewest preseason picks with five players across the four teams. Air Force, UNLV and Wyoming didn't have any first-team selections.
Steele is also doing a countdown for his top 40 college teams. He's down to No. 31 and Utah State hasn't popped up yet — perhaps a sign that the Aggies are not in his top 40 at all. BYU and Boise State are already listed
A few more links from around the Mountain West:
• Related to preseason rankings, SBN blog Mountain West Connection did a ranking of the top 10 players in the Mountain West. It was in part to counter a recent Bleacher Report list that seemed somewhat arbitrary to the writers (and to this writer). Keeton and Larsen both show up in the top 10.
• Interested in other preseason rankings? USA Today and the Orlando Sentinel are doing college football countdowns, revealing the country's top programs and breaking them all down. UNLV and New Mexico have already appeared in the USA Today countdown, while UNLV, Wyoming, Colorado State are in the Orlando Sentinel list already.
• If you're already looking ahead to basketball season, one of the Aggies' toughest conference rivals got a little weaker over the weekend. UNLV lost one of its top 2012 recruits, Katin Reinhardt, who announced he was transferring from the Runnin' Rebels despite getting some of the most minutes and shot attempts on the team. It's clear from the lead of this story that Las Vegas fans aren't appreciative: "But where there's smoke, sometimes there's a liar."
— Kyle Goon
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