Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 1 Depth Chart
All but one Mountain West team will play in Week 1. These new names atop the depth charts could be most crucial.
Which unfamiliar names are worth following?
Fresno State — Morice Norris Jr., NB
After it came out last week that Justin Houston would be ineligible to play for the first six games of the season, the Bulldogs’ veteran depth at a key position looked like it had taken a hit. Instead, Norris Jr. beat out sophomore Emari Pait to claim the starting job for himself and looks to provide all the depth they’ll need.
Norris Jr. spent two seasons at Orange Coast College before the COVID pandemic erased a potential 2020 campaign, after which he walked on to the Fresno State roster and took a redshirt in 2021. He isn’t the only person in the Mountain West set to log a lot of snaps after a long layoff, UNLV’s Jerrae Williams snapped a similar game-action drought last Saturday, but considering the team’s lofty expectations in 2022, Norris Jr. won’t have much of a learning curve
San Jose State — Fernando Carmona Jr., OT
The Spartans will feature four new starters on the offensive line, but Carmona Jr. is the one tasked with protecting Chevan Cordeiro on his blind side, replacing Jack Snyder at left tackle. Relative to just about every other projected starter at the position in the Mountain West, he’s a little smaller physically (6-foot-5, 265 pounds), so it’ll be interesting to see if he holds up against defenders who may be roughly as bigger but perhaps a step quicker.
Nevada — Maurice Wilmer, LB
The Wolf Pack had plenty of mysteries headed into fall camp, but the biggest one of all concerned who would step up in a linebacker unit that would be nearly new from top to bottom. Wilmer, who made his first career tackle in last December’s Quick Lane Bowl, has answered the bell and did his part in the dominant defensive performance over New Mexico State with two total tackles and a tackle for loss.
Colorado State — Brian Crespo-Jaquez, OT
The Rams restocked their roster through the transfer portal, but Crespo-Jaquez winning the left tackle job is perhaps the most under-the-radar ascension anywhere on the two-deep. Like Carmona Jr., the Fort Collins native will be responsible for protecting Clay Millen’s blindside and has a very tough task ahead against what should be a very good Michigan Wolverines defensive front. If he can help the redshirt freshman quarterback survive that, Fort Air Raid should find much smoother sailing in future weeks.
Air Force — Wyatt Wilson, WR
Assuming that there haven’t been many changes since last month’s media days, Wilson is one of the few new names we’re likely to see often in the Falcons’ opener against Northern Iowa. What kind of role will he play, though?
For one, he’s a much different player physically than Micah Davis, the explosive pass catcher who left the program during the off-season, standing at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. If you’re inclined to think he’ll be counted upon to stretch the field vertically rather than by attacking the edges on the ground as Davis did, there’s plenty of reason to believe it.
San Diego State — Josh Simmons, OT
The Aztecs’ projected lineup doesn’t contain too many surprises, but Simmons’s ascension is one that’s been hotly anticipated by many on the Mesa. The lone four-star recruit in San Diego State’s 2021 class, Simmons is listed at 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, exactly the kind of athlete that the Aztecs have come to expect to have along their grinding offensive line.