March 18, 2014
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LOGAN, Utah - Utah State football has several nominees for the third annual Utah Governor's State of Sport Awards, hosted by the Utah Sports Commission and presented by Zions Bank. The awards celebrate Utah's sports community and honors excellence in high school, amateur, collegiate, Olympic and professional sports. The event also recognizes key sports people and partners who have been instrumental in helping to build Utah's sports industry.
Utah State's football team has been nominated for Team of the Year; center Tyler Larsen is a candidate for College Male Athlete of the Year; and head football coach Matt Wells is a candidate for Coach of the Year.
Fans can now vote to help pick the winner in each category at www.stateofsportawards.com. Winners in each of the 10 categories will be announced and recognized at an awards dinner on Tuesday, April 22 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City at 7 p.m. Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert will provide remarks and present awards along with golf legend, designer and philanthropist Jack Nicklaus, who will be speaking to those in attendance at the awards dinner.
Utah State concluded the 2013 season with a 21-14 win against 24th-ranked Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to finish the year with a 9-5 record and tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, USU posted back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its third-straight bowl game, also a first in school history.
Utah State, who finished the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games, also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West to win the Mountain Division of the conference and advance to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls, marking the second time in as many years that USU has concluded the season ranked among the top teams in the nation as the 2012 team was ranked 16th in the final AP poll, 17th in the final coaches' poll and 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings.
Larsen, a 6-4, 312-pound offensive center from Salt Lake City, Utah (Jordan HS), was named a second-team All-American by USA Today Sports during his senior season to become just the 12th player in school history to be named a first or second team All-American, including just the third offensive lineman. Larsen was also one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy in 2013, which is presented annually to the most outstanding center in college football, and became just the ninth player in school history to be a three-time first-team all-conference selection after earning first-team all-Mountain West honors as a senior.
During his senior season in 2013, Larsen started all 14 games at center and led the team with an overall performance grade of 89 percent, including 82 percent in technique and 91 percent in effort. He carried out the right assignment 98 percent of the time, including seven games where he graded out at a perfect 100 percent. He also graded out above 90 percent nine times in total performance and above 85 percent 12 times in effort and above 80 percent nine times in technique. Larsen finished the season with 56.5 knockdowns.
Larsen finished his Utah State career starting 52 consecutive games, which is a school record, and ranked third in the nation among active players. In all, Larsen was part of the winningest class in school history with 31 victories.
Wells wasted little time putting his stamp on the Aggie football program as he led Utah State to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game after winning the Mountain Division of the conference with a 7-1 record in his first season as head coach in 2013. Wells also led Utah State to just its third-ever bowl victory as it posted a 21-14 win against No. 24 Northern Illinois in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
For his efforts, Wells was named the 2013 Mountain West Coach of the Year as he set the school record for wins by a first-year head coach as the Aggies finished the 2013 season with a 9-5 record, tying the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history.
During his first year as Utah State's head coach, Wells mentored 14 Aggies who earned various all-Mountain West honors.
Overall, Wells is the second USU coach in as many years and fifth in school history to garner conference coach of the year honors along with Bruce Snyder (1978), Chuck Shelton (1991), John L. Smith (1997) and Gary Andersen (2012). Wells is also the fourth individual to earn MW Coach of the Year honors in his first season along with BYU's Gary Crowton (2001), Utah's Urban Meyer (2003) and Air Force's Troy Calhoun (2007).
Wells, who is the 11th-youngest head coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level and one of just 12 coaches to lead his alma mater, is just the second Utah State graduate to be appointed its head football coach joining Chris Pella who graduated from USU in 1965 and coached the Aggies from 1983-85.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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