Handicapping the Mountain West preseason player of the year candidates

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 29: Chris Nwoke #6 of the Colorado State Rams scores on a two-point conversion against the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium October 29, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 38-35. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Next week, the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan's all-you-can-eat buffets will be tested to their limits when the Mountain West media convene for the conference's football media days. You can expect Boise State to be crowned preseason team to beat by everyone other than UNLV reporter Mark Anderson. You can expect some fun sound bites from Joe Kellogg because offensive linemen are never not interesting.

You probably shouldn't get your hopes up about a Boise State player being a preseason player of the year, though.

After the jump, I've done my best to identify the likely candidates for preseason POY honors, and while the Broncos will have their smattering of votes, I'm afraid to say the star power is elsewhere this preseason. Fresno State could actually sweep the pPOY awards, which is cool if you liked the early 2000s.

Offensive player of the year

  • QB Brett Smith, Wyoming
  • QB Derek Carr, Fresno State

There is a 75 percent chance that the pPOY will be one of these two quarterbacks. I will stake my reputation as a Mountain West Conference e-mail list subscriber on it.

  • RB Robbie Rouse, Fresno State
  • RB Chris Nwoke, Colorado State

If it were not going to be Smith or Carr, one of these running backs would be next. The edge here goes to Nwoke because Rouse and Carr may end up splitting votes. But then again, Nwoke plays for Colorado State, so some people may not even know he is good at football. 15 percent odds one of these guys wins it.

  • WR Matt Miller, Boise State
  • QB Cody Fajardo, Nevada
  • TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
  • WR Billy Ray Stutzmann (yes, two n's), Hawaii

This last group is a collection of wild cards, which is great for Uno but bad for pPOY prognosticating. I'd give any of these guys 5 percent odds.

Defensive player of the year

  • CB Leon McFadden, San Diego State
  • LB Travis Brown, Fresno State

The only two Mountain West players on the Nagurski watch list for college football's best defender, McFadden and Brown will be the names that come up most for preseason DPOY. I'd give the edge to McFadden because people love shutdown corners more than they love hard-nosed linebackers. Seventy percent odds one of these two wins the award.

Other candidates ...

  • LB J.C. Percy, Boise State
  • S Luke Anderson, Wyoming
  • LB Shaq Barrett, Colorado State
  • DE Paipai Falemalu, Hawaii
  • CB Khalid Wooten, Nevada
  • S Duke Williams, Nevada

There is a lot of variety for DPOY, which makes it hard to tell which way the media will go. I'd imagine most if not all of these players will get a vote or two but none will come close to McFadden or Brown. Let's say each guy has a five percent chance of winning.

There is also a category for preseason special teams player of the year, and I am unwilling and unable to research that enough to form an opinion. I will say that Air Force is the only team to bring a kicker as one of its representatives, so I hope for Parker Herrington's sake that he gets it.

Your turn

Who do you think will win the Mountain West's preseason player of the year awards? Which Broncos are most deserving? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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