Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2022

Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2022

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Mountain West Football: 12 Players Who Deserved More Attention In 2022

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New Mexico

Not many things went right for the Lobos last season, but Christian Washington looked like a keeper as a true freshman. As a return specialist, he was one of only three Mountain West players with a kick return touchdown to go along with a conference-best 26.7 yards per return, but he also earned the highest overall PFF grade, 75.7, of anyone on the New Mexico offense after rushing for 310 yards on 73 carries. It’ll be interesting to see how much bigger a role he can carve out for himself alongside Nathaniel Jones in the backfield.

San Diego State

Left guard Cade Bennett certainly earned the second-team all-conference nod bestowed on him this past November, but the former Oklahoma State transfer pretty quietly had one of the best overall seasons of any player who arrived in the Mountain West from the portal last year.

To wit: According to Pro Football Focus, 54 FBS guards played at least as many as Bennett’s 748 snaps in 2022, but he was one of just three athletes in that group to allow zero sacks and zero quarterback hits. On top of that, he also gave up only six quarterback hurries, so it should come as little surprise he also ended the year with a 82.4 pass-blocking grade which ranked second among qualifying players at the position.

San Jose State

Like Ross-Simmons, Spartans cornerback Michael Dansby didn’t see a ton of action until the second half of 2022 but, also like Ross-Simmons, he opened some eyes if you were paying attention. Only Viliami Fehoko had a higher overall PFF grade on the San Jose State defense than Dansby’s 75.2 and, furthermore, he was one of only seven Mountain West cornerbacks to play at least 250 snaps and allow a completion rate at or under 50%. With Nehemiah Shelton moving on, Dansby could be a key part of SJSU’s climb back to the top of the conference.

UNLV

Perhaps no one in the Mountain West exemplified that stats aren’t everything like Eliel Ehimare, the defensive tackle who improved year over year as a starter and, in 2022, finished behind only Jonah Tavai and Dom Peterson among interior defenders in the conference with a 82.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade. His 18 quarterback hurries tied for third, as well, despite playing just 405 snaps, so while Aidan Robbins and Kyle Williams leaving through the transfer portal has garnered more headlines, Ehimare will be just as tough to replace.

Utah State

You often don’t appreciate a quality center until he’s gone, which is why Chandler Dolphin may have been underappreciated last fall. Not only did he play more snaps at the position (953) than anyone else in the Mountain West, he did so while allowing zero sacks, two quarterback hits, and nine hurries.

Wyoming

Considering that he was thrust into the starting role somewhat unexpectedly after Latrell Bible left the program last summer, sophomore center Nofoafia Tulafono had a quality campaign in his first full year within the lineup. Much like San Diego State’s Cade Bennett, Tulafono was one of ten FBS centers to play at least 750 snaps and give up zero sacks and zero quarterback hits.

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