Preview 2020: Previewing and looking ahead to the Mountain West season with the College Football News All-Mountain West Team & Top 30 players.
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2020 Preseason CFN Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year
RB Xazavian Valladay, Jr. Wyoming
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl might be known for his coaching up of Carson Wentz and Josh Allen into NFL stars, but his Cowboy teams have been all about defense and great running games.
There was a dip in 2017, but Brian Hill ripped off 1,860 yards and 22 scores in 2016, Nico Evans ran for 1,325 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018, and Xazavian Valladay ran for 1,265 yards and six scores last season – and he’s just getting started.
The 6-0, 196-pound quick back hit Missouri for 118 yards and a score to start the season, but didn’t get rolling until the second half of the season with six 100-yard games in the last seven, including a 204-yard effort in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl win over Georgia State.
This is a bit of a projection with so many other great Mountain West backs, receivers, and the potential of Boise State QB Hank Bachmeier, but watch out. Valladay is about to take off.
CFN in 60 Video: Nevada Preview
2020 Preseason CFN Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year
DE Dom Peterson, Jr. Nevada
He doesn’t quite fit the type.
When it comes to pass rushers, everyone wants a Chase Young type who fits a hybrid role of part defensive end and part linebacker, and that’s not Peterson. The Mountain West’s best pass rusher is part defensive tackle, part bowling ball, and all pass rusher.
The 6-0, 295-pounder played at way over 300 as a freshman and still made 44 tackles with three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, and then last season it all blew up with 40 tackles, nine sacks, and 15 tackles for loss – leading the league at getting into the backfield.
Best of all, he was steady with at least a sack in eight of the 12 games and a tackle for loss against everyone but Hawaii. The motor doesn’t stop, the production will continue to be there, and in a conference that’s beyond loaded with great talent – several San Diego State and Boise State defenders could be here – Peterson is about to stand out again.