Weber State ranks tied at No. 11 in HERO Sports’ FCS Preseason Top 25.
The Wildcats lost 33-25 at Montana State in the second round of the 2022 FCS playoffs after beating North Dakota 38-31. They finished 10-3 overall.
Here’s a look at this year’s Weber State football squad under first-year head coach Mickey Mental. Mental was the offensive coordinator for the Wildcats in 2022.
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Returning 2022 FCS All-Conference Players (8)
OL Noah Atagi
LB Winston Reid
CB Maxwell Anderson
KR Abraham Williams
OL Jordan Lutui
PR Haze Hadley
OL Ethan Atagi
RB Damon Bankston
Players In 2023 FCS Positional Rankings (4)
Transfer Portal Movement
Transfers Lost To The FBS (6)
Eddie Heckard (DB) to BYU
Nuuletau Sellesin (DL) to BYU
Jake Eichorn (OL) to BYU
Kamden Garrett (DB) to BYU
Dontae McMillan (RB) to Eastern Michigan
Bronson Barron (QB) to Western Kentucky
Transfers Lost To The FCS (1)
Chinonso Opara (OL) to LIU
Transfers Coming In From The FBS (2)
Jayleen Record (WR), SMU
Vae Soifua (OL), BYU
Weber’s offense improved from 31.27 points per game in 2021 to 35.15 PPG last year in Mickey Mental’s first season as offensive coordinator. Mental now takes on head coaching duties.
The Wildcats lose their starting QB (Bronson Barron) and leading rusher (Dontae McMillan) to the FBS, and lose their No. 3 RB (Josh Davis) and 1,000-yard pass-catcher (Ty MacPherson) to graduation.
Weber still looks to have a strong rushing attack behind a big and experienced offensive line. The OL returns three All-Big Sky performers: Noah Atagi (6’6” 335 lbs), Jordan Lutui (6’4” 330 lbs), and Ethan Atagi (6’5” 360 lbs). Noah is a three-time All-Conference First Team selection and a two-year All-American.
Damon Bankston returns as an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention selection, finishing second on the team with 709 rushing yards while his eight rushing touchdowns led Weber. Kris Jackson is a sixth-year running back who may see an increase in carries. In 35 career games played, Jackson has recorded 200 rushes for 796 yards and 21 TDs.
Jacob Sharp looks to take on a bigger role at WR. He was the No. 2 receiver in 2022, tallying 35 catches for 546 yards and three touchdowns. Hayden Meacham, who is a great run-blocker at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, can be a weapon in the passing game as well, totaling eight TD catches in the last two seasons.
Weber has six quarterbacks on the current roster battling it out for the starting role:
- Kylan Weisser is in his sixth season at Weber and has played in 19 games.
- Brian Harper is a junior who transferred in last year from Butte College.
- Creyton Cooper is a sophomore and was a three-star HS recruit.
- Jakob Hollingshaus is a redshirt freshman and was a two-star HS recruit.
- Tiger Adolpho is a freshman and was a three-star HS recruit.
- Richie Munoz is a freshman and was a three-star recruit.
The offense also gets a nice boost from elite kick returner Abraham Williams. The All-American led the nation in kickoff returns with 24 returns for 898 yards (37.4 average) while setting a subdivision record with four 100-yard kickoff return TDs.
The Wildcats return five of their top 11 tacklers after they finished No. 12 in FCS scoring defense last season, allowing 20.4 points per game.
The unit is highlighted by All-Americans Winston Reid (LB) and Maxwell Anderson (CB). Reid led the team with 112 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. Anderson totaled 44 tackles (seventh on the team), plus a team-high five interceptions and 11 pass breakups.
Garrett Beck (6’4” 230 lbs) is a big linebacker who is returning after finishing fourth on the team with 67 tackles, adding six TFLs and two sacks. Jack Kelly saw nice production at LB last year, notably tallying eight TFLs and six sacks.
Six-foot-5 DE Brayden Wilson (seven TFLs) and 305-pound DT Zeke Birch (four TFLs) are productive players back on the d-line.
The secondary loses two All-Conference players to the FBS (Eddie Heckard and Kamden Garrett). But Anderson is a top-tier CB coming back, and Naseme Colvin has experience at safety, finishing with 38 tackles (No. 7 on the team), 3.5 TFLs, and two pass breakups.
8/31 vs Central Washington
9/9 at RV Northern Iowa
9/16 at Utah
9/23 vs No. 3 Montana State
9/30 at Northern Colorado
10/7 vs Northern Arizona
10/14 vs No. 18 UC Davis
10/21 at Eastern Washington
11/4 at Idaho State
11/11 vs No. 5 Idaho
11/18 at Cal Poly
HERO Sports’ rankings
RV = Received Votes
Bold indicates Big Sky games