NCF Nation: Leon McFadden

Non-AQ preseason team

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
11:07
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Here is a look at your non-AQ preseason team. All five conferences, BYU, Army and Navy were considered.

Offense

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

RB Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State

RB Doug Martin, Boise State

OT Nate Potter, Boise State

OT Matt Reynolds, BYU

C Scott Wedige, Northern Illinois

OG Chris Barker, Nevada

OG Braden Hansen, BYU

TE Ladarius Green, Louisiana

WR Damaris Johnson, Tulsa

WR Patrick Edwards, Houston

Defense

DE Vinny Curry, Marshall

DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy

DT Logan Harrell, Fresno State

DT Billy Winn, Boise State

LB Tank Carder, TCU

LB Corey Paredes, Hawaii

LB Tanner Brock, TCU

CB Josh Robinson, UCF

CB Leon McFadden, San Diego State

S Marco Nelson, Tulsa

S George Iloka, Boise State

Specialists

K Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss

P Brian Stahovich, San Diego State

KR T.Y. Hilton, FIU

PR Eric Page, Toledo

MWC media days preview

July, 19, 2011
7/19/11
11:00
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We are closing in on media day season. The Mountain West is holding its annual media event July 26-27 in Las Vegas, and I will be there to bring you the latest. Down below you will find the student-athletes each school is bringing for interviews. But first, my most pressing questions headed into 2011:

1. How will the reconfigured Mountain West fare and what will that mean for BCS inclusion? This is the biggest question hanging over the league, one that is certain to be asked of commissioner Craig Thompson. Even though we all want an answer, we will not get one until the season ends. Still, there is no debating that teams such as New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado State have to be improved for there to be any real shot at becoming an AQ.

2. Along those lines, how will Boise State fare in Year 1? The Broncos are almost certain to be the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West in their first year in the league. This, of course, is not a new position for Boise State, the preseason favorite every year in the WAC. But how does the team feel about these expectations considering it will be facing a new slate of conference games in what is a more difficult conference than the WAC?

3. How does TCU feel about being in its final MWC season? This is a similar storyline to last season with Utah and BYU. These three teams essentially put the Mountain West on the map and all are going to be gone in 2012. But TCU was given what it believes is a raw deal, when its game against Boise State was moved to Boise in November. That one could end up determining the league title. You can bet there is nothing the Horned Frogs would enjoy more than leaving the league as champion. There most definitely is a rivalry that has formed between TCU and Boise State. It's too bad we won't see that play out every year.

4. Is Air Force really a dark horse to win the league? One of the bigger under-the-radar teams that has gotten national attention is Air Force. Some are calling the Falcons a dark horse to win the league. Coach Troy Calhoun is going to do everything he can to avoid talking about or answering that question. But with Tim Jefferson, Asher Clark and Jonathan Warzeka returning on offense, and Jordan Waiwaiole, Jon Davis and Brady Amack returning on defense, the Falcons should have another strong season.

5. Is San Diego State a threat to win the league? The top four teams in the conference should be pretty strong. That includes San Diego State, which had a breakthrough season last year and returns several of its best players, including Ryan Lindley, Ronnie Hillman, Miles Burris and Leon McFadden. But there are some questions within this question -- how do the Aztecs do without Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson, and can Hillman avoid a sophomore slump?

List of student-athletes attending MWC media days:

Air Force: WR/KR Jonathan Warzeka, DL Zach Payne
Boise State: QB Kellen Moore, S George Iloka
Colorado State: OL Paul Madsen, LB Mychal Sisson
New Mexico: LB Carmen Messina, TE Lucas Reed
San Diego State: QB Ryan Lindley, DL Jerome Long
TCU: WR Josh Boyce, LB Tank Carder
UNLV: TE Anthony Vidal, DB Quinton Pointer
Wyoming: LB Brian Hendricks, DE Josh Biezuns
San Diego State had success for the first time in a very long time last season. So how is that going to impact what happens in 2011?

“It will be interesting to see how our players handle that,” first-year coach Rocky Long said. “Last year, people didn't know what to expect and as the season went along, we got better and better. There are higher expectations. It's how our players are going to handle that. Are they going to embrace it or are they make them nervous and uptight?"

"It’s all about your coaches and how they have you prepare and the way you go about things leading up to a football game," linebacker Miles Burris said. "From my experience the past couple years, we never went into a football game not confident or thinking we were going to lose. We went in with the same mindset. For me, it’s not winning and losing making you feel differently going into a game or a season. You go out that week of practice and prepare as hard as you possibly can and be as confident as you can be."

The confidence is higher, no doubt. The Aztecs went to a bowl game for the first time since 1998, beating Navy in their home stadium in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to cap a 9-4 season. Now they will try for back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1995-96.

"Confidence almost had to be manufactured and built from within," quarterback Ryan Lindley said. "Now we know we’ve done it. We’ve made it happen in some games. There’s no level of perfection. We have a ways to go to be where we want to be and be Mountain West Conference champions."

There are those who wonder whether the program will be able to maintain its winning ways with a new coach in charge. Brady Hoke left after just two seasons for Michigan, and the Aztecs decided to promote Long, their defensive coordinator. Long had a history of winning at New Mexico, which has been awful since he resigned after the 2008 season.

Long is not new to being a head coach, and he was a part of the staff that helped turn the program around. His players wanted him to be promoted, and they have faith that he will keep the program moving forward.

"Last year, it was something to feel proud of, being a part of a program that’s changing," cornerback Leon McFadden said. "That was one of my main reasons to come here, because I felt the coaching staff could turn around the program. We are moving on with coach Long. He's a very competitive coach, and that motivates us to go out there and compete in everything we do."

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