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Utah State’s Savon Scarver (11) celebrates as he returns a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Nevada in 2019. Scarver is the 2020 Mountain West Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.

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Savon Scarver has won nearly every major award during his illustrious career as a kickoff returner for Utah State’s football team.

For starters, Scarver became only the third Aggie to ever be selected as a consensus All-American — a distinction he was awarded in 2018. The only thing really missing from the Las Vegas native’s resume is being designated as the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year.

Scarver is hopeful that will change in 2020 and he is the favorite to receive the annual honor. Case in point: The soon-to-be senior was named the MW Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year as the conference released its specialty awards on Thursday.

Additionally, Fresno State linebacker Justin Rice was projected as the MW Defensive POTY, and Colorado State wide receiver Warren Jackson was predicted to be the league’s Offensive POTY.

Scarver garnered first-team all-Mountain West accolades as a sophomore and junior, and is one of the most decorated kickoff returners in the conference’s 20-year history. The ’18 recipient of the Johnny “The Jet” Award as the top return specialist in the nation ranks second in the Mountain West record books and tied for ninth in NCAA history with five career kickoff returns for touchdowns, which is also a USU record.

The former high school track & field star brought back his first collegiate kickoff to the house against New Mexico State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl as a freshman, and accomplished that feat twice as a sophomore (against NMSU and Wyoming) and junior (Colorado State and Nevada). Scarver currently holds down the No. 3 position in the USU record books with his career return average of 28.3 yards, which is the second-highest average among active FBS players.

As a junior, No. 11 ranked first in the conference and 11th nationally with his 613 kickoff yards — on 22 kickoffs, for an average of 27.9 yards.

Scarver is the fourth Aggie to garner a preseason specialty award since the program joined the Mountain West prior to the 2013-14 academic year. Former USU quarterbacks Jordan Love and Chuckie Keeton were predicted to be the MW Preseason Offensive POTY in 2019 and 2014, respectively, while current New York Giants linebacker Kyler Fackrell was voted as the conference’s Preseason Defensive POTY in 2015.

Like Scarver, Rice and Jackson earned a spot on the all-conference first team last season. Jackson and Rice were unanimous selections on this year’s preseason squad, which was released Wednesday.

Rice finished third in the Mountain West with 112 tackles a year ago, including 8.0 for a loss and 3.0 sacks. The then-junior also forced four fumbles, which tied for the No. 1 spot in the conference and ranked fourth among FBS players.

Jackson is also coming off a memorable ’19 campaign, in which he ranked fourth at the FBS level by averaging 111.9 receiving yards per game. As a junior, the 6-foot-6 mismatch hauled in 77 receptions for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns.


The Aggies received some good news Thursday when soon-to-be Bingham High senior Tupou Maile pledged his commitment to the program. The 6-3, 235-pound defensive end announced his decision on Twitter.

“First off I’d like to thank my kind and gracious Heavenly Father, as well as my family and loved ones my Mother and Father, my aunts and uncles who supported me: Vita and Ashley moeakiola, Peti and Lupe Moungaloa, Ini and Isaiah Nau, my grandma and grandpa and finally Maike Tuikovatu,” Maile posted. “I am truly thankful for everything they’ve helped me through in this recruitment process. I’d also like to take the time out to thank each of my coaches and trainers that have helped me grind through this whole recruitment process as well as giving me a platform to not only improve as a player but to showcase my skills at camps and combines. I’d like to thank: My bingham coaches, coach Lambourne, Peck, Cloward, Rayford, and many more. Also Special thanks to, coach Kofe (OFFA training) Ron Tongaonevai (Laione built) Jenny Schumacker, Pulu Otukolo, Tee & Trey Ofahengaue (Level Up elites), Stuart Tua, Isi sofele and many more. I am blessed to announce that I am committed to Utah State University Go Aggies!!!”

No. 54 helped lead the Miners to a three-way share of the Region 3 title last season with Herriman and East. Bingham, a perennial state championship contender, was edged by East in the quarterfinals of the 6A playoffs.

No statistics for Bingham were available on, but Maile did record a pair of sacks in a 31-20 victory over Jordan last October, according to the Deseret News. The nephew of USU co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile was offered a scholarship by the Aggies last June and is a 3-star recruit, according to 247sports.

Maile was also being recruited by Utah, among other collegiate programs.


USU wideout Deven Thompkins has been named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list, while teammate and defensive end Justus Te’i has earned a spot on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list.

The Wuerffel Trophy is presented every February to a college football player who excels in providing community service. Te’i, a senior, is one of seven players in the Mountain West and 114 nationally nominated for this award.

As a junior, No. 51 started all 13 games for the Aggies and finished seventh on the team with 51 tackles. The native of Oceanside, California, also chipped in with 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a team-high three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups.

As a sophomore last fall, Thompkins caught 40 passes for 536 yards and four TDs, carried the ball six times for 77 yards and one score, and returned a punt 45 yards to paydirt against Stony Brook. The native of Fort Myers, Florida, is arguably one of the fastest players in the conference.

The Paul Hornung Award is presented annually to the most versatile player “in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission and football legend and Louisville native Paul Hornung,” according to a press release.

Thompkins is one of six athletes from the Mountain West and 50 nationally nominated for this award, which was established in 2010.

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at or 435-792-7237.

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