Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 0 Depth Chart
Each of the five Mountain West teams playing in Week 0 has some new faces atop their respective depth charts. These players could be most crucial.
Who might be key to a strong start?
Hawaii — Matagi Thompson, S
The Warriors had a lot of personnel turnover early in the off-season and, at least in their first depth chart of the year, seem to have done a goob job replacing those losses with veteran talents who earned starting roles. One exception who stands out is Thompson, the only true freshman listed anywhere atop the two-deep.
Thompson starred at Honolulu’s Punahou School last year and now seems to be the leading edge of the program’s reemphasis on local talent, beating out fellow Punahou alum Noa Kamana among others. If nothing else, it makes him worth keeping an eye on as a potential cornerstone of the future.
👀 @MatagiThompson 👀
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) July 29, 2022
Nevada — Bryce Petersen, C
Aaron Frost’s recent injury means that the Union, at least in Week 0, will look totally different from last year’s iteration, but no one will be more important among the newcomers than Petersen. Oddly enough, as Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray noted back in May, this is six years in the making.
In that interim, though, Petersen made 30 starts at Akron between 2018 and 2020 before leaving the Zips via the transfer portal in August last year. It wouldn’t be until December that he announced his destination, San Jose State, but he eventually found his way to Reno after re-entering the portal in late April. Now, he’ll be responsible for calling protections in a brand-new Wolf Pack offense.
Akron might be the worst team in CFB the last 3 years. But their Center Bryce Petersen can play! 30 consecutive starts at C and LG. PHYSICAL! @geoffschwartz always makes fun of me for finding these diamonds in the rough #EyesOnOLine pic.twitter.com/93LWtrCLAZ
— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) August 19, 2021
UNLV — Elijah Shelton, STUD
With Jacoby Windmon’s transfer portal departure to Michigan State and Brennon Scott still on the mend from a spring injury, the task of providing a spark to the Rebels pass rush will fall first and foremost to Shelton, a tall order if there ever was one.
A transfer from Utah who joined the team in April, Shelton didn’t see any action last season with the Utes but did see a handful of starts at his prior stop, Utah State, across 2019 and 2020, and posted double-digit tackles in the Aggies’ Frisco Bowl victory in the former season. If he can prove to be a productive complement to Adam Plant Jr., the UNLV defense could be in very good shape.
— USU Football (@USUFootball) November 15, 2020
Utah State — Kaleo Neves, STRIKER
A veteran of 24 games across the last three seasons, the time to shine is now for Neves. Week 0 won’t be his first career start, as that came against Air Force back in 2020, but he’ll be stepping into the role previously handled by Cash Gilliam and Andre Grayson, among others, and will be counted upon to contribute as part of a unit that played its best ball at the end of 2021 and will strive to keep that rolling.
Wyoming — Shae Suiaunoa, LB
With Easton Gibbs locking down one linebacker spot for the foreseeable future, Suiaunoa appears to be the one in line to be his first primary running mate in the middle of the defense. Primarily a special teams contributor in his first three years with the Cowboys, the former high school quarterback will have big shoes to fill in occupying Gibbs’ former role while Gibbs slides to the middle and replaces Chad Muma. Suiaunoa served as an understudy in 2021, however, and should be as prepared as anyone to step up and hit someone for sixty minutes.
— Tui Suiaunoa (@CoachTui) November 16, 2021