Sep 20, 2019
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The Dog Pound cheering on the Fresno State football team at Bulldog Stadium. (Khone Saysamongdy/ The Collegian)

Bulldogs Mountain West’s West Division favorites once again

Despite a major over turn following the 2018 season, the Fresno State Bulldogs continue to rack up preseason honors as they were once again picked to finish first in the West Division on Tuesday at the 2019 Mountain West football media days held in Las Vegas.

The Bulldogs earned 17 first-place votes in the West Division poll, earning 122 total points. The three-time MW champion Bulldogs look to earn a trip back to the MW title game and earn back-to-back championships.

Tuesday’s selection marks the fourth time—and second in as many years—the ‘Dogs ­have received a division-leading bid in the preseason media polls dating back to the inception of division play in 2013. The ‘Dogs have prevailed and won the West in every season they were chosen as first-place picks (2013, 2014 and 2018).

For what it’s worth, the Boise State Broncos were selected to finish atop the Mountain Division for the sixth consecutive season, receiving 15 first-place votes and 120 points total.

All eyes on the ‘Dogs

Along with the first-place finish, the Bulldog senior trio of tight end Jared Rice, linebacker Mykal Walker and defensive back Juju Hughes continue to obtain preseason accolades, securing spots on the preseason all-conference team.

Rice, Walker and Hughes are three of four Bulldog holdovers from 2018 to be selected to either the All-MW first or second team a season ago, the fourth being senior punter Blake Cusick.

That news came a day after Walker was announced as one of 51 candidates for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker, and after Hughes was named to the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award watch list, for the nation’s top defensive back, along with Bulldogs’ defensive back Jaron Bryant.

Hughes and Bryant are one of eight defensive back duos in the nation to be selected by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame to represent their respective teams on the Thorpe watch list.

For Bryant, this is the first preseason award list he has been named to following an All-MW honorable mention selection in 2018, after logging 12 pass defenses and one interception to go along with his 50 recorded tackles (43 solo).

Bryant also became the first player in NCAA history to return two blocked field goals for touchdowns in the same quarter during the Bulldogs’ season opener, earning him an MW special teams player of the week selection for Sept. 3.

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