The Mountain West NCAA Division will be a full 22 years since it was established on May 26, 1998, and has produced some of the best players to ever grace the college football scene, as well as the NFL.
The division can boast a high number of star names in its history and has influenced college football odds in all sorts of ways. This list seeks to look into some of the standout players to have ever played for a Mountain West school.
Chad Hennings is a three-time Super Bowl winner in the NFL. The former defensive tackle played for the Air Force Academy Falcons and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1988 after winning the Outland Trophy in his senior year.
While he was obligated to join the Air Force after college, the Cowboys took Hennings in the 11th round. He would go on to have an eight-year career in the NFL, winning three Super Bowls, as mentioned above.
Leighton Vander Esch
Vander Esch currently plays for the Cowboys, having been drafted as a first-rounder and going at No.19 from Boise State. He had no problems living up to the hype surrounding him in college and made it to the Pro Bowl team in 2018 on the back of 140 tackles and two interceptions.
A former Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the linebacker also made it to the All-Rookie Team in 2018 and was voted among the top 100 players in the NFL that year.
The defensive end from Boise State also plays for the Cowboys, getting drafted by the Texas team in 2014. Adept at getting to the quarterback, the two-time Pro Bowl star earned himself a $105 million deal three years ago, when the Cowboys opted to make him the face of the franchise.
As a college star, Lawrence led Boise in sacks for two straight seasons, registering 9.5 in 2012 and 10.5 in 2013. He started off at Butler Community College before joining Boise State prior to the 2012 season.
Brian Urlacher spent 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears after an illustrious college career at the University of New Mexico that saw him named an All-American in 1999. The Bears drafted the linebacker at No.9 in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft and he would go on to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year en route to a Defensive Player of the Year accolade in 2005.
Urlacher made eight Pro Bowl teams and was a first-team All-Pro on four occasions. New Mexico retired his No.44 in 2013 and he became the first player to make it to their Football Wall of Fame. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame the following year.
The former BYU star won three Super Bowls during a remarkable career in the NFL that saw him named MVP on two occasions. Young struggled at the quarterback position upon entering BYU and the coaching staff considered moving him to defensive back because of his athleticism. He managed to get over his throwing woes and went on to take over from the great Jim McMahon as the team’s starting QB, cementing his legacy as one of the best of all time in his position. He was named an All-American by several outlets and also won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
Young completed his college career with 592 pass completions for 7,733 yards and 56 touchdowns. He went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Marshall Faulk chose to go to San Diego State University as they were the only college offering him a scholarship to play at running back. While he was heavily recruited by a number of major colleges, they all wanted him to play at cornerback, a position he said he did not enjoy. He went on to break several records at San Diego before getting drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1994.
Faulk won a Super Bowl as a professional and was also named to seven Pro Bowl teams. He was the Most Valuable Player in 2000 and is one of just three NFL players to reach at least 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards. He’s the only one to register 12,000 rushing and 6,000 receiving yards.
Bobby Wagner is another top player to have emerged from Mountain West, having represented Utah State University at the collegiate level.
Wagner started for Utah, registering 445 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and four interceptions for the University. He was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year on the back of an incredible season in which he delivered 147 tackles.
He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012 and helped them win the Super Bowl the following year. Wagner has also been named to six All-Pro first teams and seven Pro Bowl teams.