PROVO -- BYU was picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference by both the football coaches and the media. The top four teams were the same in both the coaches poll and the media poll. Utah took the top spot, followed by Colorado State, BYU and Air Force.
Rounding out the coaches poll were San Diego State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico. The media poll finished with Wyoming, UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico. The results of the coaches and media polls were announced Tuesday by MWC officials in conjunction with the conference's annual Football Media Day held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.
BYU, which will face one of their toughest schedules in school history, taking on Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia, Air Force and Mississippi State in the first five weeks of the season, also placed five players on he preseason all-conference team. Senior receiver Margin Hooks was the only offensive player chosen, but three players on the defensive unit include senior defensive lineman Setema Gali, junior linebacker Jusin Ena and senior defensive back Jared Lee. Senior kicker Owen Pochman was also chosen for special teams.
Utah returns several key players from last year's team that finished 9-3 overall, capping off the season with a Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno State. Utah shared the inaugural MWC title with BYU and Colorado State. The Utes open their season vs. Arizona, and then play at California and host Washington State before opening a tough MWC slate vs. Air Force Sept. 23.
Colorado State was picked second in both polls. The Rams finished last season as co-champions, and by virtue of the conference's tie-breaking rule, represented the MWC at the AXA Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
The media picked an all-conference team that was led by preseason player of the year Steve Smith, a wide receiver and punt returner for Utah. UNLV's Jason Thomas, a sophomore quarterback who transferred from USC, is the preseason pick for newcomer of the year. UNLV's Kevin Thomas is the media's choice for preseason defensive player of the year, and Wyoming quarterback Jay Stoner is the top returning offensive player. Utah led the conference with six players on the preseason all-conference team.
MWC Coaches Poll
1. Utah (4)
2. Colorado State (3)
3. BYU (1)
4. Air Force
5. San Diego State
8. New Mexico
MWC Media Poll
1. Utah (17)
2. Colorado State (10)
3. BYU (3)
4. Air Force
7. San Diego State
8. New Mexico
WR Margin Hooks, BYU, Sr.
WR Steve Smith, Utah, Sr.
OL Tim Stuber, Colorado State, Sr.
OL David Hildebrand, Air Force, Sr.
OL Rob Kellerman, Wyoming, So.
OL Doug Kaufusi, Utah, Jr.
OL Sam White, Utah, Sr.
TE Gray McNeill, San Diego State, Sr.
QB Jay Stoner, Wyoming, Sr.
RB Larry Nedd, San Diego State, Sr.
RB Jeremi Rudolph, UNLV, Sr.
DL Setema Gali, BYU, Sr.
DL Patrick Chukwurah, Wyoming, Sr.
DL Jerome Haywood, San Diego State, Jr.
DL Jeff Boyle, Wyoming, Sr.
LB Kautai Olevao, Utah, Sr.
LB Rick Crowell, Colorado State, Sr.
LB Justin Ena, BYU, Jr.
DB Andre Dyson, Utah, Sr.
DB Kevin Thomas, UNLV, Jr.
DB Al Rich, Wyoming, Sr.
DB Jared Lee, BYU, Sr.
K Owen Pochman, BYU, Sr.
P Ray Cheetany, UNLV, Sr.
KR Steve Smith, Utah, Sr.
PR Dallas Davis, Colorado State, Sr.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jay Stoner, Sr., QB, Wyoming
Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Thomas, Jr., DB, UNLV
Newcomer of the Year: Jason Thomas, QB, UNLV (transfer from USC)
Player of the Year: Steve Smith, Sr., WR/PR, Utah