2024 Mountain West EDGE Rankings: Ahmed Hassanein Leads a Depleted Unit

    The NFL Draft and transfer portal decimated the talent pool, but there are still rising stars to know in the 2024 Mountain West EDGE Rankings.

    The departures of Mohamed Kamara, Bo Richter, Tre Smith, Devo Bridges, PJ Ramsey, and Cooper McDonald from the Mountain West leave a talent vacuum at EDGE entering the 2024 season.

    Who will step up behind Boise State’s Ahmed Hassanein, who is coming off a 12.5-sack campaign? We break down the top competitors in our 2024 Mountain West EDGE Rankings.

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    Mountain West 2024 EDGE Rankings

    The transfer portal and NFL Draft stole much of last year’s top 10, and there are several starting positions left for teams to figure out. The end of spring football will bring depth chart clarity, but until then, projections will have to do.

    10) Korey Foreman, Fresno State Bulldogs

    A former five-star recruit, Korey Foreman headlined USC’s 2021 class. Three disappointing years later, he joined Fresno State via the transfer portal. He only saw action in three games last season due to injury, posting 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one interception in his Trojan career.

    The flashes of a star pass rusher and run defender are there — a change of scenery and a fully healthy starting season may be what Foreman needs to realize them.

    9) Antonio Doyle, UNLV Rebels

    While Deion Sanders and most of his Jackson State contingent left for Colorado last season, Antonio Doyle decided to stay. He joined the Tigers in 2022 after beginning his collegiate career as a four-star EDGE at Texas A&M.

    In his first year as a full-time starter in 2023, Doyle racked up 44 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. At 6’4″ and nearly 260 pounds, he has the size and strength to set the edge and collapse the pocket.

    8) Tavion Woodard, Boise State Broncos

    In 41 games at Ball State, Tavion Woodard produced 80 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. He follows former Cardinals defensive coordinator Tyler Stockton to Boise State, who, for the second season, look to replenish their pass-rush room with the transfer portal.

    Last year, the Broncos brought in Boston College’s Kivon Wright and Utah’s Tyler Wegis, neither of whom caught on. Yet, Woodard comes in with three years of starting experience and should thrive opposite returning sack leader Ahmed Hassanein.

    7) Blaine Spires, Utah State Aggies

    After starting the 2023 season in a backup role, Blaine Spires worked his way up Utah State’s rotation, earning three starts at the end of the year. At 6’2″ and 240 pounds, he’s small for an EDGE but uses his leverage to his advantage.

    MORE: 2024 Mountain West LB Ranking

    Spires is explosive around the arc, rips/scrapes under offensive linemen, and has a high motor, resulting in plays made from the backside.

    6) Sabastian Harsh, Wyoming Cowboys

    Sabastian Harsh has one of the most unique backgrounds I’ve seen for an EDGE. On top of being an impressive wrestler in middle school, he was his high school team’s quarterback, defensive end, and punter (look at this 79-yard beaut). Now, back to his collegiate profile.

    Harsh redshirted in 2020, served as a reserve EDGE while honing his craft in 2021, and missed all of 2022 due to injury. Thus, 2023 was our first real chance to watch him play at Wyoming, and the wait was worth it. He was a force against the run — generating multiple stops — and shoots out of cannon when he has a lane to the QB.

    5) Nuer Gatkuoth, Colorado State Rams

    A native Canadian, Nuer Gatkuoth redshirted in 2022 and received Colorado State’s Scout Team Special Teams Player of the Year award. But with a full plate of starting reps in 2023, Gatkuoth feasted across from Mohamed Kamara.

    He only finished with a half-sack, but he hit QBs more than a handful of times and recorded six tackles for loss as a run defender. With Kamara off to the NFL, the Rams will need Gatkuoth to step up, and I believe he will.

    4) Marlem Louis, San Diego State Aztecs

    We have already discussed a few transfers, but Richmond’s Marlem Louis leads the group. In back-to-back All-CAA campaigns, Louis amassed 79 tackles, 26 TFLs, 16 sacks, and six forced fumbles.

    He terrorized opposing offensive tackles, often bullrushing them into the QB’s lap. With Cooper McDonald and Garret Fountain leaving, the Aztecs needed EDGE help — safe to say they found it.

    3) Paul Fitzgerald, Utah State Aggies

    Paul Fitzgerald displayed his pass-rush skills as a redshirt freshman last season. He posted eight sacks, with three coming against Georgia State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, tying the school’s bowl game record.

    With a year of starting experience under his belt — and playing alongside Blaine Spires and Cian Slone again — Fitzgerald could earn a first-team All-Mountain West nod in 2024.

    2) DeVonne Harris, Wyoming Cowboys

    The glasses-wearing game-changer was back at it again last season. Following a 13-TFL, eight-sack 2022 campaign, DeVonne Harris put up four sacks, four pass deflections, and two blocked kicks in 2023.

    Although his numbers were down, he actually showed refined gap discipline and hand usage, and I expect those numbers to rebound in 2024.

    1) Ahmed Hassanein, Boise State Broncos

    Coming off a 12.5-sack, first-team All-Mountain West season, there is no other returning EDGE worthy of the No. 1 spot than Ahmed Hassanein. While sack numbers can fluctuate year to year, finishing at the QB is a skill on its own, and he has it.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Mountain West Power Rankings

    Boise State promoted DL coach Erik Chinander to defensive coordinator, so we know he’ll put Hassanein in a position to succeed. The 6’3″ and 271-pound defender moves extremely well for his size, even making multiple plays at the second level. If Woodard attracts attention opposite him, as he should, Hassanein could have another double-digit-sack season.

    2024 Mountain West EDGE Rankings | 11-20

    11) Clay Patterson, UNLV
    12) Marcel Walker-Burgess, Nevada 
    13) Cian Slone, Utah State
    14) Jalen Dixon, UNLV
    15) Thomas Witte, Nevada
    16) Braden Siders, Wyoming
    17) Syaire Riley, New Mexico
    18) Tariq Jones, Hawaii
    19) Trey White, San Diego State
    20) Jahzon Jacks, Fresno State

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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