2021 Draft Eligible Prospects: Mountain West/Independent Conference Seniors


We continue our series on 2021 draft eligible prospects from the west regions of the FBS and FCS. Today we will be looking at seniors from the Mountain West Conference, and the two Independent schools BYU & New Mexico State. I will note projected starters going into 2020 and notable stats so we can find out who to keep an eye on in the 2020 college football season. I will designate projected starters with (*). Lets start with the Mountain West Conference.

Mountain West Conference

Donald Hammond III (Photo Credits Russell Lansford, USA TODAY Sports)

Air Force:

Milton Bugg III –DB *

James Jones IV –DB *

Donald Hammond III –QB *

Lakota Wills –LB *

Valentino Espinoza –DB

Demani Hansford –DB

Luke Bohenek –WR

Colby Raphiel –DB

Joshua Stoner –RB

Kadin Remsberg –RB *

Ben Peterson –WR *

Elijah Palm –DB

Grant Donaldson –OLB *

Elisha Palm –DB

Matthew Murla –FB

Demonte Meeks –ILB *

Matthew Anderson –DB

Parker Noren –LB

Conner Kirkegaard –LS

John Lyons –ILB

Britton Beasley –OL

Alec Hamilton –ILB

Clark Daniel –OL

Kyle Krepsz –OL *

Nolan Laufenberg –OL *

Nicholas Noyen –OL *

Adam Jewell –OL *

Parker Ferguson –OL *

Daniel Morris –WR

Rhett Harms –TE

Luke Miller –TE

Michael Purcell –DL

Jordan Jackson –DL *

Kolby Barker –DL

Joey Woodring –DL

Kaleb Nunez –DL

Players to Watch:

Donald Hammond III: Lets address the elephant in the room, with the wacky triple option offenses and the service requirements upon graduation, the military academies are often not looked at for producing top NFL talent, and that holds true for an Air Force team that is coming off an 11-2 record in 2019. Leading the charge in 2019 was Quarterback Donald Hammond III. He was one of the better QBs in the Mountain West last year as he threw for 1,316 yards and 13 TDs on 111 attempts. He also rushed the ball 121 times for 553 yards and another 13 TDs. His knock is that his completion percentage finished at 50.5% on the season and he also threw 6 INTs, which isn’t a great TD to INT ratio. I see value in Hammond III at the NFL level in a Taysom Hill type role, but only if he can get out of his service requirements at the end of 2020.

Nolan Laufenberg: The leader on the Offensive Line, Laufenberg is considered by many to be a top NFL prospect in terms of talent, but again, only if he can get out of his service requirements. According to PFF, his 2019 season was the second highest graded season by a Left Guard ever. At 6’3”, 295lbs, it will be interesting to see if he gets the chance to play at the next level.

CT Thomas (Photo Credits Brian Losness, USA TODAY Sports)

Boise State:

Evan Tyler –S

Sam Whitne –EDGE

Jalen Walker –CB *

Avery Williams –CB *

Jordan Happle –S

Robert Mahone –RB

Jabari Watson –DT

Nick Provenzano –LB

Joel Velazquez –K *

Bruno DeRose –LB

Jake Stetz –OL

Donte Harrington –OL *

Nick Crabtree –OL

Kole Bailey –OL

John Bates –TE *

Octavius Evans –WR

CT Thomas –WR *

Benton Wickersham –LB

Kekaula Kaniho –DB *

Riley Whimpey –LB *

Players to Watch:

Jalen Walker: In my opinion, Walker is the most talented of a loaded Broncos secondary. In 2019 he had 53 total tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 1 INT, 1 TD, and he led the team with 9 pass breakups. Even thought he has good size for the NFL and was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team in 2019, he needs to show that he can create more turnovers in 2020 so he can raise up draft boards.

Avery Williams: Another talented player in the Broncos Secondary, Williams was named to the All-Mountain West First team and was also named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year in 2019. He only had 39 total tackles and 4 pass break ups on defense, but on special teams he had 2 kick returns for 60 yards and 22 punt returns for 290 yards and 2 TDs. At 5’9” he is on the shorter end of the spectrum for NFL DB’s; however, he may provide enough value as a slot corner and a core special teamer to get his named called in the 2021 Draft.

CT Thomas: Thomas was the third man in a talented Boise State receiving corps in 2019, but with the departure of John Hightower, I am expecting his numbers to go up in 2020. In 2019 he contributed with 41 receptions ,522 receiving yards, and 5 TDs. He added to his receiving numbers with 2 rushing attempts for 22 yards and 1 TD. The short receiver could be an interesting slot option at the next level.

Riley Whimpey:  Whimpey was a solid contributor to the Broncos defense as well in 2019. He led the team with 80 total tackles, and also contributed with 7.0 TFL’s, 2.0 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble, and 7 pass’ defended. With the loss of the majority of their great defensive line going into 2020, look for Whimpey’s stats to improve at the Linebacker spot.

Warren Jackson (Photo Credits Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)

Colorado State:

Logan Stewart –DB *

Patrick O’Brien –QB *

Jack Grauberger –LB

Joe DeLine –K

Keith Williams –OL

Ryan Sayre –WR

Toby McBride –DL *

Dajon Owens –DB

Nate Craig-Myers –WR

Warren Jackson –WR *

Cameron Butler –TE *

Marshaun Cameron –DB

Marcus McElroy –RB *

Manny Jones –DL *

Ryan Stonehouse –P *

Scott Brooks –OL *

Livingston Paogofie –DL

Ellison Hubbard –DL *

Players to Watch:

Warren Jackson: Like a handful of others on our list, Jackson was the main threat for the Rams offense in 2019. He had 1119 receiving yards on 77 receptions for an average of 14.5 yards/catch. He also was tied for team lead with 8 offensive TDs. At 6’6 he should generation some serious attention from NFL scouts this season.

Ryan Stonehouse: Stonehouse has put up great numbers as the main Punter for Colorado State since 2017. In 37 games, he has punted 160 times for 7,525 yards for an average of 47 yards/punt. His career long is 70 yards which came in 2018, and he has been able to down 55 punts inside the 20, compared to 20 career touchbacks.

Ronnie Rivers (Photo Credit Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports)

Fresno State:

Kwami Jones –DE *

Nick Abbs –OL

Keric Wheatfall –WR *

Justin Rice –LB *

Arron Mosby –LB *

Deonte Perry –DB

Ronnie Rivers –RB *

Saevion Johnson –RB

Kevin Parker –WR

Cesar Silva –K *

Kenny Gagnon –DB

Andrew Wright –DE

Zion Echols –RB

Jason Diaz Jr. –DB

Mateo Thompson –K

Leevel Tatum III –DL

Jacob Westberry –LS

Tanner Rice –LB

Matt Smith –OL *

Syrus Tuitele –OL *

Alex Akingbulu –OL

Juan Rodriguez –TE *

David Tate Jr. –TE

Kevin Atkins –DT *

Players to Watch:

Syrus Tuitele: Syrus Tuitele has started all 20 games he has been available to play since his sophomore season in 2018. His 2019 season was unfortunately cut short after 8 games due to injury. The 6’6” 300lbs road grader is looking to get back to starting at Right Tackle for the Bulldogs in 2020. If he can stay healthy this upcoming season, he will be an intriguing prospect for at the next level.

Ronnie Rivers: The main offensive threat for Fresno State last year, Rivers was the only non-quarterback player on the team to surpass 600 total yards, as he had a total of 1,251 on the ground and by the air. in the ground game he had 899 rushing yards on 177 attempts and 13 TDs. In the receiving game he had 43 receptions for 352 yards and added another 3 TDs. He was also the teams main punt returner as he had 9 punt returns for 120 yards. With all this versatility, if he has another strong 2020 season, he will be drafted next April.

Justin Rice: At Linebacker, Rice led the Bulldogs in 2019 with 112 total tackles, was second on the team in TFLs and Sacks with 7.0 and 3.0 respectively. He also contributed to the defensive cause with 2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles, 5 pass’ defended and 1 defensive TD. The first team All-Mountain West player has prototypical size for an NFL linebacker as well.

Cortez Davis


Jeremiah Pritchard –LB *

Kumoku Noa –WR

Stan Gaudion –P *

Zach Wilson –DB *

Makai Manuwai –DL *

Joey Nu’uanu-Kuhi’iki –OL

Wesley Faagau –LB

Taaga Tuulima –OL

Kohl Levao –OL *

Gene Pryor –OL *

Michael Eletise –OL

Alesana Sunia –OL *

Ernest Moore –OL

Eugene Ford –DB *

Melquise Stovall –WR *

Cortez Davis –DB *

Kamali’i Akina –QB

Jared Smart –WR *

Mason Vega –DL *

Tauivi Ho Ching –LB

Derek Thomas –DL *

Parker Higgins –LB

DJuan Matthews –DL

Players to Watch:

Jared Smart: In Hawaii’s pass happy offense, Smart was one of three receivers that had over 1,000 yards in 2019. Out of those three receivers, he was the only one that will be returning in 2020. The only question mark will be how good his QB play is with Cole McDonald leaving to the NFL. Smart should be the focal point of the Rainbow Warriors offense in 2020, especially if he can average 13.0 yards per play again.

Cortez Davis: Davis had a solid season at cornerback in 2019. In 13 starts, he registered 53 total tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1 Int, 1 TD, and led the Bows in pass breakups with 12. With this stat line he was a honorable mention for the All-Mountain West team. He will be the leader of Hawaii’s secondary in 2020

Elijah Cooks (Photo Credits David Calvert, USA TODAY Sports)


Berdale Robins –DB *

Elijah Cooks –WR *

EJ Muhammad –DB

Daiyan Henley –DB

Mar’Quette Jackson –DB

Austin Arnold –DB *

Lawson Hall –LB *

Reagan Roberson –TE

Julian Diaz –PK

Kameron Toomer –DE

Zak Mahannah –DE

Chris Green –DT *

Jermaine Ledbetter –OL

Tyler Orsini –OL

Alex Tancreto –OL

Nathan Edwards –OL *

Miles Beach –OL *

Nate Brown –OL *

Ryan Brocks –TE

Adam Lopez –DE

Tristan Nichols –DT

Sam Hammond –DE *

Players to Watch:

Elijah Cooks: The top receiver for Nevada in 2019, Cooks led the team in all three major receiving categories (receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs). The 6’4”, 215lbs receiver had 76 receptions, 926 yards and 8 TDs for the Wolfpack last season. NFL teams will be interested in his large frame and he could turn out to be a solid Red Zone threat at the next level.

Nate Brown: Brown has seen action in every game since his redshirt freshman year in 2017 and has started every game for the Wolfpack since his 2018 sophomore season. The 6’4” 300lbs Offensive Tackle is a 3-time Academic All-American and looks to be the anchor on the offensive line again in 2020.

Jacobi Hearn (Photo Credit Jim Thompson, Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico:

James Lewis –LB

Jordan Kress –WR *

Jerrick Reed II –S

Michael LoVett III –CB *

Letayveon Beaton –S *

Emmanuel Logan-Greene –WR *

Devin Sanders –LB

Jacobi Hearn –LB *

Reco Hannah –LB *

Tony Collier –CB

Elmer Pauni –DL

Kyle Stapley –OL *

Jacob Jankoviak –OL*

Ben Davis –OL

Kyle Jarvis –TE

Marcus Williams –TE *

Tyson Dyer –P *

Joey Noble –DL

Ben Gansallo –DL *

Elijah Lilly –WR

Patrick Peek –S

Anselem Umeh –WR *

Kameron Miller –S

Brandon Burton –S *

Jay Griffin IV –WR

Corey Hightower –S

Javohn Jones –RB

Jared EnRico –LS

Matt French –LB

Brandon Shook –LB *

Teton Saltes –OL *

Austin Cook –OL

Jeffrey Jones Jr. –TE

Players to Watch:

Jacobi Hearn: The former JUCO LineBacker was one of the top defenders for the Lobos last year. In 2019 he led the team with 6.0 Sacks, he was second on the team in TFLs with 10.0, and he also had 49 total tackles and 2 forced fumbles. At 6’0” 218lbs, he is undersized to play an edge rushing position at the next level, however with a strong 2020 season and a few pounds extra added to his frame, he could draw some Haason Reddick comparisons.

Jordan Kress: Kress was the main receiving target for the Lobos in 2019. He led the team in receptions (28), receiving yards (530), receiving TDs (6), and was 3rd on the team in total yards from scrimmage (530). He will be leaned on heavily in 2020 in the receiving game as well.

Tariq Thompson (Photo Credits, SDSU)

San Diego State:

Dominic Benson –WR

Tayler Hawkins –S

Tariq Thompson –S *

Eric Wilson –CB *

Trenton Thompson –S *

Chase Jasmin –RB

Greg Bell –RB

Grady Vazquez –FB *

Dwayne Johnson Jr. –S *

Andrew Aleki –LB *

Kaelin Himphill –LB

Turner Bernard –LS *

Jalil Lecky –DL

Dominic Gudino –OL *

Kyle Spalding –OL *

Zachary Thomas –OL *

Jacob Capra –OL

Sefo Mailangi –DL

Players to Watch:

Tariq Thompson: The secondary will be the strongest part of the Aztecs team in 2020 and Tariq Thompson will a starter at one of the safety spots. He has been named to the Mountain West first or second team three times in his career and was even a USA Today Freshman All-American. In 2019, Thompson had 55 total tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 1.0 Sack, 4 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 8 pass’ defended.

Dwayne Johnson Jr.: Thompson’s running mate at the other safety position, Dwayne Johnson Jr. had an equally solid 2019 campaign as the aforementioned Thompson. In 2019, Johnson Jr. was second on the team with 92 total tackles and added to that with 1.5 TFLs, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, and 5 pass’ defended.

Tre walker

San Jose State:

Nick Starkel –QB *

Bailey Gaither –WR *

Tre Webb –S *

Tre Walker –WR *

JaQuan Blackwell –WR

Bobby Brown II –S

Tyler Nevens –RB *

Austin Liles –WR

Jay Lenard –S *

Tysyn Parker –LB *

Jackson Burrill –TE

Hunter Nye –RB

Romero Teu –RB

Hadari Darden –LB

Christian Webb –LB

Jack Snyder –OT *

Kyle Hoppe –C *

Trevor Robbins –OL

Lionell Wiggins –LB

Billy Humphreys –TE *

Derrick Deese, Jr. –TE

Cameron Alexander –DE

Christian Johnson –DE

Players to Watch:

Tre Walker: Walker has been the best receiver for the Spartans over the last two seasons. In 2018 he led the team in reception yards with 714 and he added to that by leading the team with 5 TDs. Coming off a strong sophomore campaign, in his junior year last year, he led San Jose State with 79 receptions, and 1161 receiving yards. PFF named him to their first team All-Mountain West team, and he should be the focal point of the offense in 2020.

Jack Snyder: After redshirting in 2016, Snyder has played in every game of his college career, and has experience playing at both left and right Tackle. The 6’5, 291lbs lineman will be the anchor of the Spartans offensive line in 2020 and will get some consideration as a mid-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Jay Lenard: Like Snyder, Lenard took a redshirt season in 2016, and hasn’t looked back since, starting every game he has played in with SJSU. In 2019, Lenard had 74 total tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 2 INTs, and 2 Pass Breakups. Lenard has good size to be considered for the NFL.

Charles Williams (Photo Credits Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)


Jaron Caldwell –OL

Brandon Presley –WR *

Armani Rogers –QB

Mekhi Stevenson –WR

Tykenzie Daniels –DB

Max Gilliam –QB

Charles Williams –RB *

Vic Viramontes –LB

Greg Francis –DB *

Aaron Lewis –DB *

Daniel Gutierrez –P/K *

Tyree Jackson –RB

Christian Minor –DB

Daniel Godfrey –FB

Giovanni Fauolo Sr. –TE

Rex Goossen –LS

Farrell Hester II –LB *

Tavis Malakius –DL

Nathan De Jager –P/PK

Matt Brayton –OL *

Julio Garcia –OL *

Jackson McCullough –OL

Andre Collins Jr. –WR

Jacob Gasser –WR

Nate Neal –DL *

Rodney Jones –DL

Kolo Uasike –DL *

Jamal Holloway –DL

Ryan Tantum – OL *

Players to Watch:

Charles Williams: The work horse for the Rebels offense, in 2019 Williams got the ball in his hands a total of 219 times (212 rushing attempts, 7 receptions). He was the only player on the Rebels offense to amass 1,000 total yards as he had 1,257 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards. He had 11 TDs on the season as well. Going into 2020 he will most likely be the main offensive threat for UNLV again, however with that much tread on his tires, it may scare some NFL teams away.

Daniel Gutierrez: Originally a walk on for UNLV in 2017, Gutierrez saw immediate action at kicker and punter in his freshman season. In his sophomore season he only kicked one field goal, and only kicked off 4 times. Last season he was put into the starting kicker spot, and he kicked 35/36 on extra points (97.2%) and 11/14 on FGs (78.6%). If he doesn’t get an NFL look, he could be a CFL candidate as he has shown the ability to Kick and Punt, which is important as most CFL teams only carry one kicking specialist.

Shaq Bond (Photo Credits, Utah State University)

Utah State:

Terin Adams –CB

Nick Heninger –DE

Marcus Moore –DL

Troy Lefeged Jr –S *

Shaq Bond –S *

Cash Gilliam –LB

Savon Scarver –WR *

Jordan Nathan –WR *

Taylor Compton –WR

Sean Carter –WR

Jaylen Warren –RB *

Chase Nelson –RB

Kevin Meitzenheimer –LB *

Eric Munoz –LB *

Jaylin Bannerman –DE

Logan Lee –TE

Justus Te’I –DE *

Brandon Pada –LS *

Demytrick Ali’ifua –OL *

Ty Shaw –OL

Derek Wright –WR *

Mosese Manu –TE

Carson Terrell –TE *

Travis Boman –TE

Ritisoni Fata –DT *

Caden Andersen –DT

Jake Pitcher –DE *

Christopher Bartolic –P

Players to Watch:

Shaq Bond: Shaq Bond was the leader of Utah States secondary in 2019 at the safety position. Since transferring from the JUCO ranks in 2018, he has started a total of 21 games for Utah State. In those 21 games he has 120 total tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 4 INTs, 2 TDs, and 11 Pass Breakups. His 182 INT return yards ranks 4th in school history. Look for him to improve off of a 2019 season that had him earn 83 tackles, and 3 INTs.

Savon Scarver: On offense, Scarver was a role player for the Aggies in 2019. He only had 24 receptions for 271 yards, but his real value in 2019 came in the return game. As the Aggies main Kick returner, he had 22 returns for 613 yards and 2 TDs. He will be going into the 2020 season with more of an offensive role as some of their key players on offense have graduated and he should be a threat in the return game again, which could be what separates him between other NFL draft prospects come next April.

Jordan Nathan: On the other hand, Jordan Nathan was a threat in all aspects of Utah States offense in 2019. He was the team’s second-best receiver with 56 receptions, 581 yards, and 1 TD. He added to his receiving totals with 40 rushing yards on 7 attempts, and also had 1 rushing TD. He was also the schools main punt returner where he had 11 punt returns for 93 yards, which gives him some extra value for the NFL.

Alonzo Velazquez (Photo Credits Troy Babbitt, SI)


Trey Smith –RB

Justis Borton –NT

Jeff Burroughs –FB/RB

Garrett Crall –DE *

Dontae Crow –WR/P

Ayden Eberhardt –WR *

Esaias Gandy –SS *

Logan Harris –OG *

Skyler Miller –FB *

Jahmari Moore –FB/TE

Braden Smith –FS

Alonzo Velazquez –OT *

Players to Watch:

Garrett Crall: in 2019 Crall had a solid 2019 campaign with 55 total tackles, 6.0 TFLs, 4.5 Sacks, and 1 Fumble Recoveries in 13 games played. He also led the Cowboys with 4.5 Sacks in 2019, so he will be relied on heavily to produce for their pass rush in 2020.

Alonzo Velazquez: Velazquez is slated to be the starting Right Tackle for the Cowboys in 2020. In his freshman season in 2017 he started all 10 games he played in, and again in 2018, he started all 5 games he played in until he got injured. At 6’6, 302lbs, he could be a mid-round candidate for the 2021 NFL Draft if he has a solid season.


Independent Conference

Kavika Fonua (Photo Credits, BYU Photo)


Chris Wilcox –DB *

Troy Warner –DB *

Jeddy Tuiloma –DL

Khyiris Tonga –DL *

Johnny Tapusoa –RB

Kieffer Longson –OL

Uriah Leiataua –DL *

Sam Lee –LB

Isaiah Kaufusi –LB *

Jared Kapisi –DB

Batchlor Johnson IV –WR

Tristen Hoge –OL *

Chandon Herring –OL

Kyle Griffitts –TE

Dimitri Gallow –DB *

Kavika Fonua –LB *

Bracken El-Bakri –DL

Zac Dawe –DL *

Austin Chambers –DL

Matt Bushman –TE *

Zayne Anderson –DB/LB *

Players to Watch:

Kavika Fonua: Fonua has seen action in multiple games since his freshman season, including 12 starts in 2019. He led the cougars in total tackles with 83 in 2019, and added 1 Sack, 2 Ints, and 1 Forced Fumble to his stat line last year. The knock on Fonua has been his injury problems in the past, so I hope he will be able to stay healthy through all of 2020. He went on his mission to Vancouver, Canada, and along with the fact that he was originally recruited as a DB, I think he has a real shot of ending up as a SAM Linebacker in the CFL if the NFL doesn’t give him a shot.

Matt Bushman: Bushman was the focal point for the cougars passing game in 2019. He had 47 receptions for 688 yards and 4 TDs. He ranked in the top 10 in multiple tight end statistics across the FBS last year, and it will probably get serious consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Rashie Hodge Jr.

New Mexico State:

Andre Bodison –WR *

Chance Cook –DB

Jared Wyatt –WR

Roy Lopez –DL

Jake Harrelson –LB

Sage Doxtater –OL

Myles Vigne –DL *

Michael Bowe Jr. –LB

Robert Downs III –WR *

Caleb Mills –WR *

Rashie Hodge Jr. –LB *

Brennon Davis –LB

Jalen Guerrero –OL *

Garrison Tullos –OL

Jahre Fish –WR

Sol Rascon –WR

Xander Yarberough –DL

Jomaious Williams –DL

Players to Watch:

Rashie Hodge Jr: One of the only bright spots on a 2-10 Independent Aggies team, Hodge Jr. was all over the stat line in 2019. He was second in the team in total tackles with 90, which is highest among returning players in 2020. He also was the team’s leader in TFLs with 10.0. To that stat line he also had 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 pass deflections. At 6’0”, 235lbs, he could be an intriguing prospect going forward.

Jalen Guerrero: In terms of seniors going into 2020, there isn’t a lot to go off of in terms of players to watch for the Aggies. This can be seen in Jalen Guerrero. He didn’t play at all in his first two years at New Mexico State, but in 2019, his junior year, he started in all 11 games. His 6’6”, 300lbs frame is what interests me, and I will be sure to key on him in film studies as he could be a late round sleeper pick in 2021.