Utah State football has nine All-Mountain West honorees, including three first team recipients – Cache Valley Daily

Utah State wide receiver Jaylen Royals converts a 2-point conversion against Fresno State on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Clint Allen.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football had nine players garner all-Mountain West honors, including three first-team selections, as the league office announced its postseason football awards Tuesday. In all, USU had four offensive and five defensive players recognized.

Utah State had three players named to the Mountain West first team in graduate senior inside linebacker MJ Tafisi Jr., junior wide receiver Jalen Royals and sophomore safety Ike Larsen. USU also had one player earn second team honors in senior Terrell Vaughn as both a wide receiver and kick returner. And five more Aggies were named honorable mention all-MW in senior defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka, redshirt junior linebacker Anthony Switzer, junior Micah Davis as both a wide receiver and punt returner, junior tight end Broc Lane and sophomore safety Devin Dye.

Three Aggies are receiving Mountain West honors for the second time as Larsen was named to the second team in 2022, while Tafisi and Vaughn both garnered honorable mention accolades a season ago.

For the first time in its 11 years in the Mountain West, Utah State had a pair of wide receivers earn first- and second-team honors in Royals and Vaughn. In fact, Royals is just the second Aggie wide receiver to earn first-team all-MW honors along with Deven Thompkins in 2021. And Vaughn is one of just six wide receivers to earn first- or second-team all-MW accolades along with Thompkins’ first team honor in 2021, and Hunter Sharp, Siaosi Mariner and Brian Cobbs, who were all named to the second team in 2015, 2019 and 2022, respectively.

Tafisi joins a long list of Aggie linebackers who have earned first-team all-conference honors and is the sixth linebacker to be named first-team all-Mountain West along with David Woodward (2019), Kyler Fackrell (2015), Nick Vigil (2014, 2015), Zach Vigil (2014) and Jake Doughty (2013).

As for Larsen, he is the third Aggie defensive back to earn first-team all-Mountain West honors along with Nevin Lawson in 2013 and Jalen Davis in 2017. Larsen is also the first Aggie to earn first and second-team all-MW honors as a freshman and sophomore.

Boise State running back Ashton Jeanty was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, while Colorado State defensive end Mohamed Kamara was named the Defensive Player of the Year. UNLV placekicker Jose Pizano was named the MW Special Teams Player of the Year and UNLV quarterback Jayden Maiava was named Freshman of the Year. UNLV’s Barry Odom named the MW Coach of the Year.

Utah State’s 10 all-conference honorees were tied for the fourth-most in the league. UNLV had a league-best 14 all-conference honorees, while Boise State and Colorado State was second with 12. Utah State, Air Force, Fresno State and San José State all had 10 honorees, followed by San Diego State (9), Wyoming (8), New Mexico (7), Hawai’i (6) and Nevada (6).

Tafisi, a 6-foot, 250-pound inside linebacker from West Jordan, Utah (Alta HS/Washington) leads the team with 131 tackles and two forced fumbles and is third with 7.5 tackles for loss. In fact, his 131 tackles are tied for the 19th-most in a single season in school history.

Tafisi has posted nine double-digit tackle games this season, including in each of his last eight games, which is tied for the longest streak in school history since 1999. In fact, his nine double-digit tackle games this season are tied for the third-most in the nation. Tafisi is first in the MW and eighth in the nation in tackles (10.9 pg), and fourth in the MW in forced fumbles (0.17 pg).

Royals, a 6-0, 195-pound wide receiver from Powder Springs, Georgia (Hillgrove HS/Georgia Military College) has caught 68 passes for 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns and has four 100-yard receiving games. In fact, he is just the 13th player in school history to post a 1,000-yard receiving season and his 14 touchdown catches are tied for the most in a single season in school history. Furthermore, he has seven touchdown receptions of at least 50 yards this year to lead the nation, while his 14 touchdown receptions are the second-most in the nation.

On the season, Royals is first in the Mountain West and second in the nation in receiving touchdowns (1.2 pg), fourth in the MW and 20th in the nation in receiving (85.2 ypg), fifth in the MW and 33rd in the nation in receptions (5.7 pg), seventh in the MW and 65th in the nation in scoring (7.2 ppg), and eighth in the MW in yards per reception (15.0).

Larsen, a 5-10, 185-pound safety from Smithfield, Utah (Sky View HS) leads the team with two blocked kicks and four interceptions, returning one of those 47 yards for a touchdown. He also ranks second on the team with 91 tackles and six pass breakups and has 4.5 tackles for loss.

Larsen was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week twice this season, along with being named the MW Special Teams Player of the Week once after blocking the tying extra point in the final minute of Utah State’s 34-33 road win at UConn. He was named the MW Defensive Player of the Week following his performance against Colorado State as he tied his career high with two interceptions, while adding seven tackles and a pass breakup. His second MW Defensive Player of the Week award came after his performance at San Diego State as he had eight tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss, and intercepted a pass on a fourth-down play in the second overtime to seal the win. He also disrupted a fake field goal in the second quarter and made the tackle on a fake punt in the fourth quarter, as both plays were unsuccessful.

On the season, Larsen is first in the Mountain West and third in the nation with two blocked kicks (0.17 pg), tied for first in the MW and eighth in the nation with one defensive touchdown (0.09 pg), first in the MW and 16th in the nation with four interceptions (0.33 pg), sixth in the MW in passes defended with 10 (0.83 pg), and eighth in the MW and 66th in the nation in tackles (7.6 pg).

Vaughn, a 5-7, 175-pound wide receiver from Oxnard, California (Westlake HS/Ventura College) leads the team with 81 receptions and ranks second with 847 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Vaughn had three 100-yard receiving games and three double-digit reception games this year, which is tied for the second-most in the MW and tied for the fifth-most in the nation. Overall, his 81 receptions are the sixth-most in school history for a single season, while his 10 touchdown receptions are tied for the eighth most. On the season, he is second in the MW and 14th in the nation in receiving touchdowns (0.8 pg), second in the MW and 16th in the nation in receptions (6.8 pg), and sixth in the MW and 51st in the nation in receiving yards (70.6 ypg).

Vaughn has also returned seven kickoffs for 166 yards (23.7 ypr) on the season, including a long of 43 yards at San Diego State.

Motu’apuaka, a 6-1, 290-pound defensive tackle from Honolulu, Hawaii (Punahou HS) has 32 tackles, which includes 3.0 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, to go along with four quarterback hurries. His 31 tackles are the most on the team by a defensive tackle and second most by a defensive lineman. Overall, he has posted at least two tackles in nine games this year.

Switzer, a 6-0, 210-pound linebacker from Augusta, Arkansas (Marion HS/Arkansas State) is third on the team with 85 tackles and 3.0 sacks, and second on the team with 8.0 tackles for loss. He also has four pass breakups, one interception and one fumble recovery. He also posted three double-digit tackle games on the year, which is tied for the second-most on the team.

Davis, a 5-11, 185-pound wide receiver from Atlanta, Georgia (Harrison HS/Iowa Western CC) has 36 receptions for 628 yards and six touchdowns, all of which are the third-best on the team, while adding one 100-yard receiving game. He also returned 26 punts for 250 yards (9.62 ypr) this season and eight of his punt returns (30.8 percent) have been for 10 or more yards. In fact, his 26 punt returns led the MW and are the second-most in the nation, while his 250 punt return yards are the second-most in the MW and the seventh most in the nation.

Overall, Davis is second in the MW and 26th in the nation in punt returns (9.3 ypr), fourth in the MW and 45th in the nation in yards per reception (17.4), and eighth in the MW and 69th in the nation in receiving touchdowns with six (0.55 pg).

Lane, a 6-4, 245-pound tight end from Gilbert, Arizona (Perry HS) has 21 receptions for 208 yards (9.9 ypr) and one touchdown on the season. Overall, he had at least two receptions in six games this year.

Dye, a 6-0, 185-pound safety from San Diego, California (Cathedral Catholic HS/Palomar College) is fourth on the team with 81 tackles, leads the team with seven pass breakups, and is second on the team with two interceptions, to go along with a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Overall, he has recorded at least six tackles in eight of his last nine games and has at least nine tackles in six of those contests. He also has two double-digit tackle outings this season. On the season, Dye ranks ninth in the Mountain West in passes defended with nine (0.75 pg).

Utah State (6-6, 4-4 MW) will play in its 11th bowl game in the past 13 seasons and its 17th bowl game in school history as bowl matchups will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 3.

For more information on the Utah State football program, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @USUFootball, on Facebook at USUFootball and on Instagram at USUFootball.

Source link

Share This Article



Related Articles