Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2021

Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2021

Air Force

Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2021

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Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2021


A number of standout performers across the Mountain West flew under the radar last season.


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Who’s earned more appreciation than they received?

Air Force

There’s no question that Falcons offensive lineman Hawk Wimmer deserved his all-conference accolades, but that makes it all the more criminal that offensive tackle Everett Smalley couldn’t even score an honorable mention. Smalley began his sophomore year at right tackle before sliding to the left slide after four games, starting all but one contest for Air Force in his first full year of action and, according to Pro Football Focus, grading out as the Mountain West’s best tackle at 87.9 overall. Considering he had a big role in helping the Falcons reload one of the nation’s best units, that’s not a bad start to what looks like a promising collegiate career.

Boise State 

The Broncos had a trying year all the way around in 2021, but it could have been even tougher if not for players like offensive lineman Ben Dooley. Dooley was one of just two Boise State linemen to start every game (John Ojukwu was the other) by splitting time at right tackle and right guard, the latter being where he ended up spending most of the season, and finished with a 80.0 run-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus.

Colorado State

Not many things went right for the Rams in 2021, but the down year obscured that safety Jack Howell emerged as a key defensive piece upon which new head coach Jay Norvell can build. The Mountain West’s lone Freshman All-American, according to the Football Writers Association of America, Howell made six starts and collected 64 tackles (the most of any freshman defender in the conference), 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception.

Fresno State

For as explosive as the Bulldogs offense proved to be last season, it’s easy to overlook the more subtle contributions made by players like tight end Juan Rodriguez. While his stat line (14 catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns) won’t be confused with Trey McBride or Cole Turner, Rodriguez did earn a 78.2 run-block grade from PFF that bested both of them and ranked third among Mountain West players at the position.

Hawaii

While Calvin Turner Jr. got lots of attention as a do-it-all weapon and Dae Dae Hunter was ostensibly the Warriors’ starter, running back Dedrick Parson did plenty to justify his own role in the offense. Despite running the ball just 117 times, Parson also contributed 28 receptions and scored nine touchdowns, earning a 84.5 overall PFF grade that trailed only Wyoming’s Titus Swen among Mountain West running backs.

Nevada

Safety Tyson Williams may never have gotten as much credit as he deserved for being a steady hand at the back end of the Wolf Pack defense over the past three years. He did a little bit of everything for Nevada in 2021, compiling 47 total tackles to go along with four tackles for losses, five passes defended, and three interceptions.

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