Phil Steele Tabs 10 Aztecs to Preseason All-MW

May 21, 2012

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Ten San Diego State players were named to the 2012 Phil Steele Preseason All-MW team, the publication recently announced. Three players, including two offensive members, garnered first-team honors.

Junior wide receiver Colin Lockett, junior tight end Gavin Escobar and senior cornerback Leon McFadden were first-team selections. On the second team were senior wide receiver Brice Butler, senior center Alec Johnson, junior offensive guard Nik Embernate and junior safety Nat Berhe. Sophomore linebacker Jake Fely and Lockett (Special Teams) were named to the third team, while senior quarterback Ryan Katz and junior wide receiver Dylan Denso were fourth-team selections.

Lockett, who was tabbed to the 2012 Phil Steele Preseason All-MW team as a wide receiver (first-team) and a kick returner (third-team), led SDSU in receiving with 970 yards and his 74.6 receiving yards per game ranked fourth in the MW. The Diamond Bar, Calif., native also tallied 678 yards on special teams, including a 94-yard kick return in the season opener against Cal Poly.

Escobar, a first-team all-MW selection a year ago, joins Lockett on the first team after a stellar sophomore campaign on The Mesa. Last season, the Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., native reeled in 51 catches for 780 yards and seven touchdowns. His 60.00 receiving yards per game in 2011 were third most in the nation among tight ends.

McFadden, who earned first-team all-Mountain West accolades for the third consecutive season last year, rounded out the Phil Steele 2012 Preseason All-MW first team for the Aztecs. In 2011, the Inglewood, Calif., native led the league in passes defended (17), while recording 46 tackles (35 solo), two interceptions and a sack.

Leading the second-team Phil Steele 2012 Preseason All-MW second-team honorees is Butler, who has been at USC since 2008. Originally a four-star recruit, the Norcross, Ga., native had 31 catches for 554 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons as a Trojan.

Johnson joined Butler on the preseason second team after a successful junior campaign where he never missed a game despite breaking his snapping hand (right) in SDSU's season opener. The Denver, Colo. native helped the Aztecs finish among the nation's leaders in fewest sacks allowed (T-7th, 0.85 per game) and in fewest tackles for a loss allowed (15th, 4.46 per game).

Embernate has also been a staple on the offensive line, having started 29 consecutive contests until an injury forced him the game against Colorado State (Nov. 12). Like Johnson, Embernate helped the Aztecs rank among the nation's leaders in fewest sacks allowed (0.85 per game) and fewest tackles for a loss allowed (4.46 per game).

Berhe, who earned all-MW honorable mention honors last year, registered career-best marks in tackles (67), tackles for loss (3.5), interceptions (2), pass breakups (5) and forced fumbles (1). The Colton, Calif., native ranked third on the team in tackles and was tied for second in interceptions.

Fely tallied 58 tackles last season after earning the starting middle linebacker job following spring drills. The Oceanside, Calif., native registered 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and was tied for first on the team with three forced fumbles.

Katz comes to The Mesa from Oregon State, where he played in 18 games for the Beavers from 2008-11, starting 14 contests and throwing for 2,722 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Denso, who had a stellar season as a walk-on, rounded out the Aztec preseason picks. In a starting role, the Dana Point, Calif., native caught 49 passes for 634 yards and three touchdowns.