The state of Utah is full of football talent, and national media have taken notice. As college football season approaches, the annual publication of college football award watch lists has begun.

The Deseret News is tracking which athletes in Utah have been named as candidates for the several college football awards, but several watch lists have yet to be released. As award watch lists continue to surface, we will continue to update this listing.

Here are the 18 players from Utah FBS programs that have been named to a college football award watch list.

Landon Hemsley is the sports web producer for deseretnews.com. Email: lhemsley@deseretnews.com. @EarlOfHemsley

Jamaal Williams

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Doak Walker Award (Nation's best running back)

Williams took over as BYU's featured running back in 2012 after Michael Alisa broke his arm against Hawaii, but he played in every game of 2012. He rewrote freshman record books during 2012 and is now the all-time leader in carries (166), yards (775) and touchdowns (12) for a freshman at BYU.

In addition to his impressive rushing statistics at BYU, Williams also hauled in 27 catches for 315 yards and one touchdown during the 2012 season. Seven of those catches came against Notre Dame. For the year, Williams had six games with more than 100 all-purpose yards.

Williams is a quick, shifty back with a lot of speed. He showed remarkable poise as a freshman in 2012 and will doubtlessly be a prominent piece of the Cougars' new spread-option attack.

Kyle Van Noy



School: BYU Cougars

Award: Bronko Nagurski Award (College Defensive Player of the Year)

Award: Bednarik Award (College Defensive Player of the Year)

Award: Lott IMPACT Trophy (Best defensive IMPACT player, Most personal character)

Award: Butkus Award (Best linebacker in college football)

Award: Walter Camp Award (College football's most outstanding player)

Kyle Van Noy, regarded as a strong professional prospect after his very successful junior season, is giving one more year to the Cougar faithful.

Van Noy was named a third-team All-American, an SI.com Honorable Mention All-American, a CBSSports.com Second Team All-American, Phil Steele Third Team All-American and College Sports Madness Third Team All American in 2012. He was also named the CFPA National Defensive Player of the Year.

He led the Cougars in 2012 with 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, eight QB hurries and six forced fumbles. He also logged 53 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks.

Van Noy's best game of 2012 was, without question, the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl. He recorded 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one blocked kick. The interception and the fumble resulted in two touchdowns for Van Noy as he singlehandedly outscored his opponent 12-6.

His best regular season game came against the Utes, when he registered a season-high 4.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, eight tackles and a pass breakup.

Van Noy, among the most high-profile athletes at BYU, will anchor the BYU linebacking core in 2013.

Michael Alisa

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Doak Walker Award (Nation's best running back)

Alisa has played on both sides of the football since he came to BYU. As a freshman linebacker in 2008, Alisa totaled 11 tackles, nine of which were solo tackles. After returning from a mission to Puerto Rico, Alisa switch to the offensive side of the ball. He started four games and was the second leading rusher on the team, totaling 455 yards and three touchdowns on 85 carries (5.35 ypc).

His junior season at BYU was doubtlessly frustrating. After starting the first five games, Alisa broke his arm against Hawaii. He didn't play again until the Poinsettia Bowl.

Before that, however, Alisa racked up 222 yards on 58 carries (3.82 ypc), recording at least 50 yards rushing in the first three games, 23 yards on six receptions and one touchdown.

It's unclear how Alisa will be utilized in the new spread-option attack offensive coordinator Robert Anae is installing this year for BYU, but Alisa, primarily a power running back, prefers running over defenders to eluding them.

Spencer Hadley

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Butkus Award (Best linebacker in college football)

Spencer Hadley was a mainstay of the Cougar defensive backfield last year, starting all 13 games. Originally an inside 'backer, Hadley switched to the outside in order to make room for Kyle Van Noy.

As a junior, Hadley tallied 55 tackles, good enough for fifth on the team. He also recorded nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, recovered two fumbles and forced one fumble.

His best performances in the 2012 season came against in-state competition. Against Utah, Hadley recorded 10 tackles, two of which were for a loss and one of which was a sack. Against the Aggies, Hadley posted six tackles, 1.5 of which was for a loss. His forced fumble also came against USU.

Uani Unga

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Butkus Award (Best linebacker in college football)

Unga transferred from Oregon State University in 2010, but sat the 2011 season out per NCAA transfer rules. When he saw the field in 2012, he made the most of it, although he didn't always get the recognition he deserved.

Unga was probably the most unsung hero of the defense in 2012. Unga started all 13 games and recorded 28 tackles, of which three were tackles for loss and one was a sack. He also snagged one interception against Idaho and took it to the house.

This linebacker is arguably one of the most consistent players in Division I football. In the three years he has played — two of which were in the Pac-10 — he has never missed a game, though he hasn't always been a starter.

Kaneakua Friel

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Mackey Award (College football's best tight end)

One of 37 players named to the Mackey Award watch list, Friel had 30 receptions for 308 yards in 13 starts last season for BYU, averaging 10.3 yards per catch. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound native of Kaneohe, Hawaii, was second on the team with five receiving touchdowns in 2012.

Friel's best game of the 2012 campaign was the the team's first. In the season opener, Friel nabbed six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. He recorded at least one reception in nine of BYU's 13 games last season, including the bowl game.

Friel has already earned recognition for his talent. For the week of Sept. 3, 2012, Friel was recognized as the College Football Performance Awards National Tight End of the Week.

JD Falslev

School: BYU Cougars

Award: Hornung Award (College Football's most versatile player)

Falslev not only plays, but excels at two different positions — kick returner and receiver — though he also logged a 53-yard run against Weber State.

In 2012, Falslev was named to Phil Steele's All-Independent team as a return specialist. He returned 11 kicks for 286 yards (26 yds/return) and 26 punts for 247 yards (9.5 yds/return). His best game as a return specialist was against Georgia Tech. As BYU's primary kick returner, he logged returns of 44, 43 and 42 yards.

Falslev was BYU's second-best receiver, totalling 37 receptions for 274 yards and two touchdowns, the most notable of which came against USU. Falslev caught the game's only touchdown near the end of the first half — one of his four receptions in the game. He also hauled in five catches for 55 yards in the season opener against Washington State.

Eathyn Manumaleuna

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Outland Trophy (Best interior lineman in college football)

Four games into the 2012 season, Manumaleuna suffered a season-ending injury to his patella, which turned out to be two blessings in disguise.

First, the vacancy left on the defensive line gave the world a front-row seat to No. 5 overall NFL draft pick Ziggy Ansah. Second, the medical redshirt Manumaleuna was granted ensured that a very capable defensive lineman would be around to fill the gaps in 2013.

Manumaleuna is best remembered for his game-winning field goal block in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl. With time expiring, the block preserved a one-point lead and gave BYU a win. Manumaleuna was a freshman at the time.

Cody Hoffman

Team: BYU Cougars

Award: Biletnikoff Award (Most outstanding college receiver)

Cody Hoffman has been a mainstay for the Cougar receiving corps ever since he arrived in Provo. He turned a lot of heads when he opted to return to Provo for his senior season rather than declare for the NFL draft.

A preseason All-American, Hoffman led BYU with 100 receptions for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. He enters his final season needing 19 receptions, 538 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns to become BYU’s all-time leader in each category.

The two-time All-Independent Team selection leads all returning FBS receivers in career receiving touchdowns (28) while ranking third in career receptions (203) and fourth in career receiving yards (2,718) among active FBS players.

Jake Murphy

Team: Utah Utes

Award: Mackey Award (Nation's best tight end)

Murphy, who was an honorable mention all-Pac-12 selection last season, led Utah with four touchdown catches. He was second on the team in receptions (33) and third in receiving yards (349).

He is also considered one of the best receivers, if not the best receiver on Utah's football team. His season-high yards in a game in 2012 came against Northern Colorado (78), but he also had strong receiving games against UCLA (65) and Oregon State (42).

Trevor Reilly

Team: Utah Utes

Award: Butkus Award (Best linebacker in college football)

Trevor Reilly's selection to the watch list for the best linebacker in college football is a curious one. Reilly is listed on the depth chart as strictly a defensive end. Furthermore, his bio page on the Utah football official website says the plan is to play him much more on the defensive line than at linebacker.

Regardless, Reilly is definitely a player on the Utah defense to watch out for. He led Utah in tackes during the 2012 season (69) and contributed 4.5 sacks to the Utah defense. He forced three fumbles and hauled in one interception.

One of his best games was the Battle of the Brothers. Against the Aggies from Logan, Reilly registered nine tackles. He also did well against the Sun Devils of Arizona State, where he registered seven tackles, 2.5 of which were for a loss and 1.5 of which were sacks.

Chuckie Keeton



Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Heisman Trophy (Best player in college football)

Award: Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year)

Award: Davey O'Brien Award (Nation's best quarterback)

Award: Walter Camp Award (College football's most outstanding player)

Keeton earned first-team all-WAC honors in 2012, ranking third in the conference and 17th nationally in total offense. He was also second in the WAC and 18th in the nation in passing efficiency (154.7), third in the WAC and 29th nationally in passing, and eighth in the conference in rushing.

Keeton finished the season with a 67.6 percent completion percentage, 3,373 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions, all of which were school records.

If USU finishes as Mountain West football champion in its inaugural season in the conference, it will likely be due in large part to Keeton.

Joe Hill

Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Doak Walker Award (Nation's best running back)

A junior from Fullerton, Calif., Hill occupied the backup role to Kerwynn Williams during the 2012 campaign, but saw significant action throughout the season. He played in 12 games for the Aggies, starting three, and finished the year with 269 yards on 43 carries (4.8 ypc) and seven touchdowns. He was also an active receiver, hauling in 18 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Hill's best game as a rusher came against Southern Utah in 2012. In that contest, Hill recorded 116 yards on 11 carries (10.5 ypc) and three touchdowns. Through the air, Hill's best game against UNLV — the white-out game. He caught three passes for 88 yards, one of which was for 65 yards. He also scored a touchdown in USU's victory over Utah in 2012.

Hill is the man in the backfield this season and next for the Aggies, barring injury.

Nick Diaz

Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Lou Groza Award (Nation's best placekicker)

Nick Diaz was several layers down the depth chart at the beginning of the 2012 season, but by the end, he was the go-to kicker for the Aggies. In his first-ever field goal attempt for USU, Diaz booted a 53-yarder, the longest successful kick of the season for the Aggies, the eighth-longest all-time at USU and the longest of Diaz's career.

Diaz served as USU's kicker for the final seven games of the season and made 10-of-13 (.769) fields goals to rank eighth all-time at USU for a single season in percentage. He also made all 40 of his extra points, which tied him for first all-time for extra points made a single season, while his 40 attempts ranks third all-time.

Tyler Larsen

Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Rimington Award (Nation's best center)

Award: Outland Trophy (Nation's best interior lineman)

Award: Rotary Lombardi Award (Outstanding offensive/defensive lineman)

Larsen is the only center from the state of Utah to be named to the 2013 Rimington Trophy Watch List, and this is the third year in a row he has been named. He also is one of two players from the state of Utah and one of 11 centers nationwide to be named to the Outland Trophy watch list.

Larsen is Utah State's first three-time Rimington Trophy Watch List selection and only the third USU player to be named to the Watch List, joining Brent DeLadurantey in 2005 and Ryan Tonnemacher in 2007.

Along with the 2013 Rimington list and 2013 Outland list, Larsen has also been named a preseason fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele and a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by two separate publications. He has been a mainstay of USU's offensive line since he arrived in Logan.

Jake Doughty



Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Rotary Lombardi Award (Outstanding offensive/defensive lineman)

Doughty is best remembered among the Aggie faithful for dropping Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts during an onside kick attempt in 2012. He also gave one of the greatest interviews of all time to KSL's Rod Zundel following the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl victory.

A 6-0, 230-pounder from Draper, Doughty earned first-team all-WAC honors in 2012, ranking second in the conference and tied for 71st in the nation with 109 tackles (8.4 pg). He also recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack during the season to go along with four pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.

Doughty was also named preseason second-team all-Mountain West by College Sports Madness and third-team all-Mountain West by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele for 2013.

Kyler Fackrell

Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Rotary Lombardi Award (Outstanding offensive/defensive lineman)

Fackrell, a 6-5, 245-pounder from Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS), earned first-team all-WAC honors in 2012. He was also the first Aggie in school history named a Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American.

Fackrell finished last season with three interceptions (0.23 pg), eight tackles for loss (0.62 pg), and 87 tackles (6.7 pg). Those 87 stops rank tied for third all-time at Utah State among freshmen. He finished second on the team with seven quarterback hurries and snagged three sacks and three pass breakups.

Fackrell is a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports, a preseason second-team all-Mountain West selection by Phil Steele and a preseason third-team all-Mountain West selection by College Sports Madness for 2013.

Eric Schultz

Team: Utah State Aggies

Award: Rotary Lombardi Award (Outstanding offensive/defensive lineman)

Schultz earned first-team all-WAC honors a year ago. He finished the year with 44.0 knockdowns and only allowed 1.5 sacks during the season. A senior in 2013, Schultz, along with Larsen, anchors a very experienced offensive line.

Schultz has also been named preseason first-team all-Mountain West by College Sports Madness and second-team all-Mountain West by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele for 2013. He has started 32 consecutive games to rank tied for seventh in the Mountain West and tied for 41st in the nation.