One Christmas Wish For Every Mountain West Football Team In 2024 Part 1

by Tyler Feinstein

One Christmas Wish For Every Mountain West Football Team In 2024 Part 1

The Mountain West had a very busy offseason and features the most new Head Coach hires out of any conference at the FBS level. 2024 looks to be a transition year for a lot of Mountain West squads, but all it takes is one Christmas wish to come true to exceed expectations. 

Boise State: Malachi Nelson Blossoms

The defending Mountain West Champions will look to stay at the peak in 2024 and they have the talent and returning production to do so. A ton of key contributors from last year’s squad remain, including electric Running Back Ashton Jeanty, the disruptive Defensive Tackle Ahmad Hassanein, and stud Linebacker Andrew Simpson. 

This offseason was highlighted by the acquisition of former 5 star USC Quarterback Malachi Nelson, making him the highest rated recruit in Broncos history. Now he gets to display his talents on the Smurf Turf and could elevate Boise State to the next level. 

In addition to adding Malachi through the transfer portal, Boise State attacked the need at Wide Receiver by adding former Indiana 3 star recruit Cam Camper and former Ole Miss 5 star recruit Chris Marshall. 

If Malachi Nelson can unlock his true potential and elevate his new teammates on the perimeter, the Boise State Broncos are a dark horse to make the new 12 team playoff format.

Fresno State: Korey Foreman Thrives In A New Home 

The Bulldogs are set on offense with Quarterback Mikey Keene and Running Back Malik Sherrod leading the charge. Transfer wideouts Chedon James and Raylen Sharpe should make an impact alongside Jalen Moss. 

Defensively the Bulldogs are solid as well with standout Linebacker Malachi Langley being the enforcer in the middle and Dean Clark is one of college football’s better safeties. But there is one player who could elevate the Fresno State defense to a very high level, and his name is Korey Foreman. Korey was a former 5 star recruit and committed to USC in 2021 but struggled finding playing time.

 Now in a new system run by defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, Korey Foreman can finally put his excellent physical tools to use. If he can reach his full potential, the Fresno State Bulldogs could be a top 25 team.

UNLV: Defense Steps Up

2023 was the best season UNLV has had in a very long time. Head Coach Barry Odom breathed life into a dead UNLV Rebels program, leading the team to a 9-5 finish and a Mountain West Championship appearance. 2024 looks to be a very exciting year as well with a lot of production returning and some key transfers

An offense that averaged over 34 points per game last season looks to be just as deadly if not more so this season with the return of Star Wide Receiver Ricky White and the major transfer portal addition of Holy Cross Star Quarterback Matthew Sluka. But if the Rebels want to take the next step in 2024, defensive improvement is a must

While the defense has some excellent players in stud Linebacker Jackson Woodard and Star Cornerback Cameron Oliver, reinforcements are needed. UNLV invested heavily in the transfer portal for defensive assets and they definitely caught some big fish, including former 5 star Texas A&M Cornerback Tony Grimes, former 4 star Oregon Edge Rusher Jaden Navarette, 4 star Texas Safety Jalen Catelon and former 4 Star Jackson State Edge Rusher Antonio Doyle. 

If Defensive Coordinator Mike Scherer can get the most out of his new additions, the UNLV Rebels could be a potent Mountain West contender.

San Jose State: A Smooth Transition

Ken Niumatalolo is back in the head coaching business and will look to build on the foundation that ex Head Coach Brent Brennan built. But it might take a little bit for this new Spartans roster to gel.

The team as a whole only returns 36% of the team’s production from last year, which is rough for a new regime to work with. But the cupboard isn’t bare. Wide Receiver Nick Nash and Grambling State Transfer Running Back Floyd Chalk give new Offensive Coordinator Craig Stutzman some tools to work with, along with the task of developing Emmett Brown into a starting caliber Quarterback. 

Defensive Coordinator Derrick Odum has his work cut out for him this time, as Linebacker Jordan Pollard is the only standout on a defense with a lot of new starters. Despite these obstacles, Ken Niumatalolo is no stranger to challenging environments. At Navy he was getting a ton of production out of a limited talent pool and even led the Midshipmen into the top 25 a few times. With no military restrictions, Ken could theoretically get more with an expanded talent pool, even if there’s a lot of new pieces.

It will definitely be challenging to get to a bowl game in a solid Mountain West conference but it’s far from impossible. If San Jose State manages to go bowling in 2024, that would be a major success.

San Diego State: Sean Lewis’ New Offense Takes Off

It’s a new era for the Aztecs as new Head Coach Sean Lewis is ready to take on the challenge of building San Diego State back into a Mountain West contender. Much like the aforementioned San Jose State, San San Diego State’s roster has a lot of new faces.

Sean Lewis attacked the transfer portal hard and got some nice grabs, including some starters in Ball State Running Back Marquez Cooper, Akron Offensive Tackle Williams, Central Michigan Linebacker Kyle Moretti and Eastern Michigan Cornerback Bennett Walker. Florida State transfer Quarterback AJ Duffy will look to light a spark to an offense that has been dormant in recent years and should thrive in Sean Lewis’ Quarterback friendly scheme.

AJ Duffy will also have some new transfer Wide Receivers to throw to in ex UCLA 4 star Jerry McClure and former West Virginia 3 star Ja’Shaun Poke. 

With all of these reinforcements, the San Diego State Aztecs could surprise in year 1 under Sean Lewis and make some noise in the Mountain West

For more from Northern Lights Gazette click here.

You may also like

Leave a Comment