July 22, 2014
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Utah State senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton was named the Mountain West's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year it was announced Tuesday at the league's annual Media Days held here at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Along with Keeton, Utah State had three other players named to the league's 25-player preseason first-team as senior defensive end B.J. Larsen, senior linebacker Zach Vigil and junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell were all recognized.
Other preseason player of the year honors include Fresno State senior defensive back Derron Smith, who was named the MW's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and New Mexico junior Carlos Wiggins, who was named the MW's Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.
Entering his senior season, Keeton, a 6-2, 200-pound quarterback from Houston, Texas (Cypress Creek HS), is also one of 25 college football players named to the first edition of the 2014 Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Trophy Watch List, one of 17 players named to the 2014 Bleacher Report's Initial Heisman Trophy Watch List, one of 39 players named to the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List, one of 77 players named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, one of 40 players named to the College Football Performance Awards Quarterback of the Year Watch List, and a first-team preseason all-Mountain West selection by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
Keeton was one of 30 players named to the first edition of the 2013 Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Trophy Watch List as a junior a year ago, but played in just six games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter against BYU on Oct. 4. Prior to his injury, Keeton had completed 136-of-196 passes for 1,388 yards (231.3 ypg) with 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while rushing for another 241 yards on 55 carries (402. ypg/4.4 ypc) with two more scores. Overall, that completion percentage of 69.4 percent broke his own single-season school record set in 2012, while his 18 touchdown passes rank tied for ninth all-time in school history.
Through his first five games of the 2013 season, Keeton ranked second in the nation with 17 touchdown passes, while also ranking first in the Mountain West (MW) and second in the nation in points responsible for (22.8 pg), second in the MW and 22nd in the nation in passing efficiency (161.6), third in the MW and eighth in the nation in completions (26.4), third in the MW and 11th in the nation in completion percentage (.710), third in the MW and 18th in the nation in total offense (317.2 ypg), and fourth in the MW and 25th in the nation in passing (272.4 ypg). Keeton also tied the school record with five touchdown passes in a game twice during his junior year, doing so in a 52-20 win at Air Force and again in a 70-6 home win against Weber State.
As a sophomore in 2012, Keeton earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors after ranking 17th nationally in total offense (307.1 ypg), 18th in passing efficiency (154.7) and 29th in passing (259.5 ypg). During the 2012 season, Keeton set single-season school records for touchdown passes (27), passing yards (3,373), completions (275), completion percentage (.676) and total offense (3,992 yards), while tying the single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 121 yards at Louisiana Tech.
Larsen, a 6-5, 275-pounder from Logan, Utah (Logan HS) earned second-team all-Mountain West honors as a junior as he finished the season ranking second on the team with 4.0 sacks and three quarterback hurries, to go along with 8.0 tackles for loss and 31 total tackles (14-solo, 17-assist). He was also named a College Football Performance Awards Honorable Mention National Defensive Lineman of the Week following his performance against No. 24 Fresno State in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game as he had a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss, to go along with 1.0 sack, as part of his five total tackles.
Larsen is also a preseason second-team all-Mountain West selection by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele heading into the 2014 season.
Vigil, a 6-2, 232-pound senior from Clearfield, Utah (Clearfield HS) earned second-team all-Mountain West honors a year ago as he ranked second on the team, seventh in the conference and 42nd in the nation with 8.9 tackles per game. Overall, he finished the year with 124 total tackles (47-solo, 77-assist), which was tied for the 17th-most in the nation at the FBS level. In all, his 47 solo tackles led the team, while he was also tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also ranked second on the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and was tied for fifth overall with 2.0 sacks, while adding one interception, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry.
As a sophomore in 2012, Vigil earned second-team all-WAC honors as he ranked second on the team, fifth in the conference and 84th in the nation with 105 tackles (8.1 pg). He also led the team and ranked tied for sixth in the WAC with 9.5 tackles for loss (0.73 pg) and second on the team and tied for seventh in the WAC with 5.5 sacks (0.42 pg).
Vigil is also one of 40 college football players named to the College Football Performance Awards Linebacker of the Year Trophy Watch List, one of 123 players named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, and a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports heading into the 2014 season.
Fackrell, a 6-5, 245-pound junior from Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS) was named an honorable mention Sophomore All-American by College Football News and earned second-team all-Mountain West honors a year ago as he finished the season ranking first on the team with 13.0 tackles for loss, tied for first with two forced fumbles and second with his 5.0 sacks, while ranking fourth on the team with 82 total tackles (37-solo, 45-assist). Overall, he averaged 5.9 tackles per game to rank 35th in the Mountain West. During the season, he recorded three quarterback hurries, recovered one fumble, intercepted one pass and registered one pass breakup. He was also named the Mountain West's Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Linebacker of the Week following USU's 47-10 home win against Hawai'i as he recorded nine tackles, including 0.5 for loss, to go along with an interception return of 99 yards for his first career defensive touchdown, which ranks as the third-longest interception return in Utah State and Mountain West history.
As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Fackrell earned first-team all-WAC honors and was named Utah State's first-ever Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Freshman All-American as he finished the year ranking second on the team and eighth in the WAC with three interceptions (0.23 pg), third on the team and 13th in the WAC with 8.0 tackles for loss (0.62 pg), and fourth on the team and 13th in the WAC with 87 tackles (6.7 pg), which ranks third all-time at in school history among freshmen.
Entering his junior season, Fackrell is also one of 40 college football players named to the College Football Performance Awards Linebacker of the Year Trophy Watch List, one of 76 players named to the Bednarik Award Watch List, one of 81 players named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, one of 51 players named to the Butkus Award Watch List, one of 123 players named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, and a first-team preseason all-Mountain West selection by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
Other offensive starters returning for the Aggies include senior running back Joe Hill (Fullerton, Calif./Fullerton HS) senior offensive tackle Kevin Whimpey (Highland, Utah/Idaho State); junior wide receiver JoJo Natson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson HS); junior wide receiver Brandon Swindall (Oklahoma City, Okla./Millwood HS); and sophomore quarterback Darell Garretson (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler HS).
Utah State returns 14 starters (O-6, D-5, S-3) as part of 38 letterwinners (O-17, D-18, S-3) from last year's 9-5 team that won the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference in its first year in the league, played in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game and defeated No. 24 Northern Illinois, 21-14, in the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Utah State concluded the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games to tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, Utah State 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 at USU. Utah State also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West.
Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls with two votes each, 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.
Utah State will open the 2014 season on Sunday, Aug. 31 at Tennessee and play its first home game the following weekend against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.
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.
2014 Mountain West Football Preseason All-Conference Team Offense QB Chuckie Keeton, Sr., Utah State WR Matt Miller, Sr., Boise State WR Devante Davis, Sr., UNLV RB Jay Ajayi, Jr., Boise State RB Donnel Pumphrey, So., San Diego State OL Ty Sambrailo, Sr., Colorado State OL Cody Wichmann, Sr., Fresno State OL LaMar Bratton, Sr., New Mexico OL Brett Boyko, Sr., UNLV OL Robert Waterman, Sr., UNLV TE Kivon Cartwright, Sr., Colorado State
Defense DL Tyeler Davison, Sr., Fresno State DL Brock Hekking, Sr., Nevada DL B.J. Larsen, Sr., Utah State DL Eddie Yarbrough, Jr., Wyoming LB Ejiro Ederaine, Jr., Fresno State LB Kyler Fackrell, Jr., Utah State LB Zach Vigil, Sr., Utah State DB Donte Deayon, Jr., Boise State DB Jeremy Ioane, Sr., Boise State DB Derron Smith, Sr., Fresno State DB J.J. Whittaker, Sr., San Diego State
P Garrett Swanson, Jr., Fresno State PK Jared Roberts, Sr., Colorado State Ret. Carlos Wiggins, Jr., New Mexico
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Chuckie Keeton, Sr., QB, Utah State Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Derron Smith, Sr., DB, Fresno State Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year: Carlos Wiggins, Jr., KR, New Mexico
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