2020 Mountain West Football Top 50 Players: Honorable Mentions
Here is the list of Mountain West football players that got some love from our staff but did not make our top 50 in 2020.
Who couldn’t quite make the cut this summer?
Before our countdown of Mountain West football’s top 50 players of 2020 gets underway, we kick things off with a nod to those athletes who didn’t quite receive enough support to make the cut in 2020.
See anyone you think should have made our top 50? Did we overlook your favorite player entirely? Join the discussion using the hashtag #MWwireTop50 on Twitter or leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
It’s a tall task having to step in and replace a pair of NFL Draft selections but Muma, who spent all of 2019 as the primary backup to both Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia, managed to rack up 51 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack despite starting just two games. If he’s anywhere near as productive as the Cowboys’ departed linebacker duo, he’ll be a cinch to make our list in 2021.
Shaq Bond, S, Utah State
After his 2018 campaign was cut short by injury, the Decatur, Illinois native played like one of the Mountain West’s best safeties last fall, collecting 83 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. That ability to do a little bit of everything will come in handy as the seasoned veteran in a reloading secondary.
Kyle Stapley, C, New Mexico
The Lobos’ running game may not have reached the same dizzying heights of the mid-2010s last fall, but it still finished second in the Mountain West on a per-carry basis in 2019 and that could not have happened without the steady anchors along the offensive line. Stapley, in particular, has been a fixture for the last two seasons, leading all UNM offensive linemen in snaps played during that time and, according to New Mexico, allowed just six pressures last fall.
Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
It wasn’t without its growing pains, but Strong’s first season at the helm in Reno was an overall success. He made ten starts for the Wolf Pack and completed 63.4% of his passes for 2,335 yards and 11 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. His last five starts, in particular, generated a lot of excitement as he improved to 6.8 yards per attempt and threw just one INT on his last 200 throws.
Kevin Atkins, DT, Fresno State
Interior linemen don’t often get a lot of notice, but Atkins was one of just 15 Mountain West defenders to rack up at least five sacks in 2019 and he led the Bulldogs defensive line with 31 tackles. Many of the stars from the 2017-18 peak have departed at this point, but Atkins is in a prime position to be the next disruptive great.
Randal Grimes, WR, UNLV
Grimes’s arrival back in his hometown came pretty late last off-season, but Rebels fans were certainly glad that he decided to join their program rather than head to Minnesota after he led the team with 44 catches and seven touchdowns. Furthermore, among Mountain West receivers who caught at least 40 passes, Grimes ranked fourth by averaging 15.8 yards per catch.
Matt Araiza, K, San Diego State
2019 saw a wealth of specialists emerge across the Mountain West, but the Aztecs’ redshirt freshman kicker made replacing John Baron II look easy. He now holds the program record with 22 field goals made in a single season and, among all FBS kickers, enters 2020 with the second-longest streak of games with at least one field goal made. All he needs now is a catchy nickname of his own…
The Complete List
Air Force — Milton Bugg III, Timothy Jackson, Lakota Wills
Boise State — Chase Cord, Jackson Cravens, Octavius Evans, Donte Harrington, Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez, Robert Mahone, Ezekiel Noa, Markel Reed, Jack Sears, JL Skinner, Jake Stetz, CT Thomas, Demetri Washington
Colorado State — Rashad Ajayi, Ellison Hubbard, Dequan Jackson, Manny Jones, Logan Stewart, Barry Wesley
Fresno State — Kevin Atkins, Jordan Mims, Zane Pope, Syrus Tuitele
Hawaii — Khoury Bethley, Cortez Davis, Jonah Laulu, Penei Pavihi, Jeremiah Pritchard, Miles Reed
Nevada — Romeo Doubs, Berdale Robins, Carson Strong
New Mexico — Bryson Carroll, Tyson Dyer, Elijah Lilly, Donte Martin, Jerrick Reed II, Teton Saltes, Brandon Shook, Kyle Stapley, Tevaka Tuioti
San Diego State — Matt Araiza, Jesse Matthews, Caden McDonald, Kobe Smith, Zachary Thomas
San Jose State — Bailey Gaither, Cade Hall, Kyle Harmon, Kyle Hoppe, Tyler Nevens, Jack Snyder
UNLV — Noah Bean, Tyleek Collins, Julio Garcia, Randal Grimes
Utah State — Shaq Bond, Henry Colombi, Alfred Edwards, Nick Heninger, Kevin Meitzenheimer, Jordan Nathan, Justus Te’i, Carson Terrell
Wyoming — Keyon Blankenbaker, Logan Harris, Ravontae Holt, Mario Mora, Chad Muma, Rome Weber