UNLV — Johnathan Baldwin, S
The Rebels secondary has made strides in the young season and it isn’t just about Nohl Williams for a change. Baldwin is an up-and-comer who’s made a big difference so far, posting an overall PFF grade of 72.7 to this point, with ten tackles and a pass defense to his name on 195 total snaps. Against a Utah State offense that’s looking everywhere for answers, he could be a key player in UNLV getting a leg up through conference play.
Utah State — NyNy Davis, WR
With the recent news that Kyle Van Leeuwen is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, the next man up in the slot is Davis, who flashed a fair bit of potential in fall camp. However, he is tied with an “or” to Terrell Vaughn and both saw fairly similar snap counts — 90 for Vaughn, 73 for Davis — in the Aggies’ first few games alongside Van Leeuwen. Neither has come close to matching Brandon Bowling’s production from 2021, however, so turning that around this week against UNLV will be vital.
New Mexico — A.J. Odums, CB
The newest member of a veteran-laden Lobos secondary, Odums has been a valuable complement to Donte Martin in the early going with 12 tackles and one pass breakup in the first three games. While the LSU Tigers may be a much tougher matchup overall for everyone involved, don’t be shocked if he keeps up his strong early play into conference action and helps UNM surprise.
Hawaii — Kaulana Makaula, S
While true freshman Matagi Thompson has started each of the Warriors’ four games so far at one safety spot, three different players have shuffled through the other so far. The latest to get a starting nod is Makaula, the USC transfer who is built more like a linebacker at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds and collected seven total tackles in last week’s victory over Duquesne. It appears that he’ll get an extended audition on the road against New Mexico State, so Makaula has a chance to cement himself as a long-term solution with another strong performance.
San Jose State — James McNorton, OT
The Washington State transfer has been busy in the early part of San Jose State’s campaign, playing 135 snaps in the team’s first two contests as the bookend to left tackle Fernando Carmona Jr. He’s been okay in the early going, posting an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 55.8 to this point, but improvement among him and his peers in the weeks to come will go a long way toward deciding whether or not the Spartans can take advantage of the disarray elsewhere in the Mountain West.