2024 Mountain West LB Rankings: Boise State’s Andrew Simpson Remains LB1

    The 2024 Mountain West LB Rankings comes equipped with all sorts of physical specimens. But who challenges for LB1 in the conference?

    Linebackers rarely get the credit they deserve, having to fill gaps in run defense and drop into coverage against some of the most athletic players on the field. The 2024 Mountain West LB Rankings highlight just how much talent there is at the position and distinguish the cream of the crop.

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    Mountain West 2024 LB Rankings

    10) Malachi Langley, Fresno State Bulldogs

    Malachi Langley is the definition of a veteran, entering his fifth season at Fresno State with over 2,000 defensive snaps to his name. His patience allows him to clean up at the second level, leading to a team-leading 84 tackles in 2023. The Bulldogs know what they are getting from Langley: a defensive leader with the ability to lay the boom in the middle of the field.

    9) Evan Eller, Wyoming Cowboys

    With Easton Gibbs off to the NFL, Wyoming reached into the transfer portal for some LB help. Evan Eller was a defensive chess piece for the Virginia Military Insitute, logging significant snaps at deep safety, in the slot, and in the box. His 106 tackles ranked 16th in the FCS last year, and he’ll have a chance to match that number by working closer to the line of scrimmage for the Cowboys.

    8) Shaun Dolac and Cole Joyce, Utah State Aggies

    With MJ Tafisi Jr. gone, the Aggies have options for their LB2 spot next to Anthony Switzer (more on him later). Cole Joyce is the returnee, serving in a backup role last season. He was solid, if uninspiring, which could be why the Aggies snagged Buffalo’s Shaun Dolac out of the portal.

    MORE: 2024 Mountain West EDGE Rankings

    Dolac burst onto the scene as a starter in 2022 and was on his way to another impactful season in 2023 before injury cut it short. With the ability to rush the passer, stuff the run, and drop into coverage, Dolac can challenge for a top spot in the conference with a healthy campaign.

    7) Drue Watts, Nevada Wolf Pack

    If you watched Nevada last season, Drue Watts was likely one of the first defenders to catch your eye. His instincts allow him to fly around the field, often reaching landmarks before offensive players. He has to improve as a tackler, especially in space, but Watts returns as one of the Wolf Pack’s best players.

    6) Jalen Smith, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

    After beginning the year in a reserve role, Jalen Smith started the last eight games in 2023. What he put on film in those eight games was impressive, shedding blocks and maneuvering across gaps to shut down runs. He also largely kept passing plays in front of him, charging downhill to make the tackle.

    5) Chase Wilson, Colorado State Rams

    A 2023 second-team All-MWC member, Chase Wilson benefitted from Mohamed Kamara bulldozing offensive lines up front, logging 107 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He struggled in coverage, allowing more yards than you’d like, but it was his first season as a starter, so improvements should be expected heading into 2024.

    4) Anthony Switzer, Utah State Aggies

    Following three years at Arkansas State and a redshirt in 2022 due to injury, Anthony Switzer had his Utah State coming-out party last season. He was everywhere for the Aggies, rushing the passer off the edge, playing the run from the second level, and even dropping into coverage from the slot and deep safety.

    Simply put, Switzer is a playmaker worthy of a top-five spot in our 2024 Mountain West LB Rankings.

    3) Shae Suiaunoa, Wyoming Cowboys

    Entering his third year as a starter, Shae Suiaunoa is as consistent as they come. In the last two seasons, he’s accumulated 166 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, five sacks, two interceptions, and six pass deflections. A former QB and safety, Suiaunoa has the vision to wreck game plans, and his presence allows the rest of the defense to be more aggressive.

    2) Jackson Woodard, UNLV Rebels

    First-team All-Mountain West in 2023. Tied for second in the conference for most tackles (114). First on the team for tackles for loss (nine). Member of the UNLV Dean’s Honor List in spring 2023. What more could you ask for from your LB1?

    A former Arkansas Razorback, Jackson Woodard brought his SEC pedigree to the MWC and helped lead the Rebels to their best record (9-5) since 1984. A repeat performance will have Woodard atop the conference again … well, right below the top spot.

    1) Andrew Simpson, Boise State Broncos

    Andrew Simpson showed his potential in three starts to close out the 2022 regular season, his redshirt freshman campaign. But even after watching those three games, no one could’ve anticipated the heights he would reach in 2023.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Mountain West Power Rankings

    A do-it-all stat-stuffer, he torched offenses to the tune of 66 tackles, 16 TFs, 6.5 sacks, two INTs, four PBUs, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He’ll need to work on coming to balance as a tackler, but outside of that, there are few holes in his game.

    2024 Mountain West LB Rankings | 11-20

    11) Marco Notarainni, Boise State
    12) Tongiaki Mateialona, Nevada 
    13) Jordan Pollard, San Jose State
    14) Marcel McDuffie, UNLV
    15) Taniela Latu, San Jose State
    16) Cody Moon, San Diego State
    17) Noah Kema, Hawaii
    18) Ray Leutele, New Mexico
    19) Buom Jock, Colorado State
    20) Melvin Laster, UNLV/Clay Martineau, Boise 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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