CORONADO -- The Mountain West Conference released its annual media preseason football poll on Wednesday and BYU was picked to finish a close third behind Colorado State and Utah.
For the second consecutive year CSU was selected to win the MWC title followed closely by Utah. The top three positions in the poll were very close with only six points seperating CSU and BYU. CSU claimed 5-of-16 first place votes and 113 points with Utah receiving 111 points and eight first place votes. BYU garnered two first place tallies and 107 points for third place in the poll.
"The conference is very close right now, but every year is different," said BYU head coach Gary Crowton. "Everybody has the same opportunity to win it. You just need to concentrate on each game one at a time."
Crowton said he is not surprised with the third place selection.
"I never worry too much about the preseason polls," Crowton said. "We lost a lot of people on offense so I can see why they picked us where they did. However, I believe we are further along and better than some may think."
After going undefeated in conference play and winning the MWC championship outright last season, many members of the MWC media consider this to be a rebuilding season for the Cougars.
"We are rebuilding a little bit," Crowton admited. "But in a way, every year your team needs to rebuild."
In addition to the preseason poll, the MWC also announced its 2002 preseason All-Conference team as selected by members of the league's media. BYU was represented on the team with five selections. On offense, Reno Mahe, Ben Archibald, Dustin Rykert and Spencer Nead were selected while Jernaro Gilford was the only BYU defensive player to be selected.
Reno Mahe, a member of the 2001 All-Mountain West Conference first-team, is returning for his senior year at BYU. Last year, Mahe was the top receiver in the MWC, finishing the season with 1,211 yards on 91 receptions. In addition to being named to the 2002 Mountain West Preseason All-Conference team by members of the MWC media, Mahe was also named as preseason first-team All-MWC selection by the Sporting News, Street & Smith's, Athlon Sports, Phil Steele and Jim Feist. He was named by Athlon Sports as preseason honorable mention All-American selection and named by
the Sporting News as the preseason MWC Offensive Player of the Year.
Despite starting the last two seasons on the offensive line, this is the first time Ben Archibald has been named to the preseason All-Mountain West team. Last year, he was a second-team All-MWC selection as a junior. In 2002, Archibald has also been listed as a preseason first-team All-MWC selection by Street & Smith's, Athlon Sports and Jim Feist. He was also named by Street & Smith's as a preseason honorable mention All-American selection.
Dustin Rykert is also a two year starter returning for his final season to help anchor the offensive line. The offensive tackle earned All-MWC honorable-mention honors last year. Rykert was named by the Sporting News and Phil Steele to the 2002 preseason All-MWC first-team. He also was ranked as the 14th top offensive tackle in the nation by Phil Steele and was ranked 13th by Sporting News.
After racking up Junior College All-America honors at Ricks College, Spencer Nead has been able to continue his excellent career at BYU. Last year, Nead ended the year with five touchdowns and 266 yards on 22 receptions. He earned both All-MWC honorable-mention and Media All-MWC honors in 2001. Nead has been named as a 2002 preseason first-team All-MWC selection by the Sporting News, Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. He was also ranked as the sixth top tight end in the country by the Sporting News and ranked 22nd by Phil Steele.
Jernaro Gilford was selected as a member of the 2001 All-Mountain West Conference first-team as a sophmore. He is returning this year as a junior in hopes of continuing his success in the BYU secondary. In 2002, Gilford has been named as preseason first-team All-MWC selection by the Sporting News, Street & Smith's, Athlon Sports, Phil Steele and Jim Feist. He was also named by Street & Smith's as a preseason honorable mention All-American selection. He was listed as the
15th ranked cornerback in the country by Phil Steele.
2002 Mountain West Conference Pre-Season Poll
Team (first place votes) Points
1. Colorado State (5) 113
2. Utah (8) 111
3. BYU (2) 107
4. UNLV 74
5. Air Force (1) 64
6. New Mexico 57
7. Wyoming 26
San Diego State 26
2002 Pre-Season All-Mountain West Team
WR Ryan McGuffey* Jr Wyoming
WR Reno Mahe* Sr BYU
OL Jordan Gross Sr Utah
OL Ben Archibald Sr BYU
OL Adam Goldberg* Sr Wyoming
OL Dustin Rykert Sr BYU
OL Claude Terrell So New Mexico
TE Spencer Nead Sr BYU
QB Bradlee Van Pelt Jr Colorado State
RB Joe Haro Sr UNLV
RB CecilSapp Sr Colorado State
DL Jason Kaufusi* Jr Utah
DL Garrett Smith* Sr Utah
DL Ahmad Briggs Sr UNLV
DL Peter Hogan Sr Colorado State
LB Sheldon Deckart* Sr Utah
LB Eric Pauly Jr Colorado State
LB Drew Wood Jr Colorado State
DB Antoine Sanders Jr Utah
DB Jernaro Gilford* Jr BYU
DB Arnold Parker Jr Utah
DB Dexter Wynn Jr Colorado State
P Joey Huber* Sr Colorado State
PK Jarvis Wallum Sr Wyoming
PR Dexter Wynn Jr Colorado State
KR Dominique Dorsey So UNLV
KR Dexter Wynn Jr Colorado State
* member of the 2001 All-Mountain West Conference first-team