They didn't win the Mountain West. They came close. After season-ending injuries to five offensive starters, few expected as much out of the Aggies.
The Mountain West's all-conference honors were released Tuesday morning, and Utah State's selections reflected the achievement. Coach Matt Wells was named conference coach of the year for guiding the Aggies to win the Mountain Division with an 8-5 record, while 14 team members were included in all-Mountain West honors.
In his first year, Wells has tied the program record for wins by a rookie head coach. He became the fourth man to win Mountain West coach of the year in his first season coaching in the conference, following in-state footsteps by BYU's Gary Crowton (2001) and Urban Meyer (2003).
Three Aggies made the first team, all seniors. Center Tyler Larsen, a Rimington Trophy finalist, was named to the first-team offense, while linebacker Jake Doughty and cornerback Nevin Lawson were named to the first-team defense.
Four Aggies defenders made the second team. Senior tackle A.J. Pataiali'i and junior end B.J. Larsen were honored on the line, while junior Zach Vigil and sophomore Kyler Fackrell gave Utah State two of the three second-team linebacker spots.
Seven other Utah State players were named honorable mentions: senior safety Maurice Alexander, senior running back Joey DeMartino, junior kicker Nick Diaz, senior guard Jamie Markosian, sophomore receiver Jojo Natson, senior tackle Eric Schultz, and junior safety Brian Suite.
The Aggies' senior class in all garnered eight individual honors. The class has the school record for wins in a four-year span with 31.
Some familiar names rounded out the players of the year honors. Senior quarterback Derek Carr of Fresno State was the offensive player of the year, while senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett of Colorado State was the defensive player of the year. Two other players the Aggies faced, New Mexico's Carlos Wiggins and San Jose State's Tyler Winston, were named special teams player and freshman of the year, respectively.
The season is not yet over for Utah State, which will face Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 26.
— Kyle Goon
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