Six MW Football Student-Athletes Represented on 2012 Senior Bowl Watch List

Aug. 24, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Six Mountain West football student-athletes have been named to the first-ever Watch List for the Senior Bowl, the nation's premier all-star game showcasing the top senior college football players in the country. The Fresno State duo of Robbie Rouse and Phillip Thomas, as well as the San Diego State tandem of Ryan Katz and Leon McFadden, are joined by Boise State's DJ Harper and Nevada's Duke Williams on the list that highlights 311 seniors and top NFL draft prospects from 114 institutions.

Harper, a 2012 Doak Walker Award candidate, appeared in 12 games for the Broncos in 2011 and finished as the teams' second-leading rusher with 557 yards on 115 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns. The product of Cypress, Texas, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after suffering season-ending knee injuries in both 2009 and 2010. Harper has tallied 24 rushing touchdowns in his career, the ninth-most in program history.

Hailing from San Diego, Calif., Rouse enters his senior season as the nation's third active leading rusher behind Wisconsin's Montee Ball (3,310) and Michigan's Denard Robinson (3,229). Rouse ranked ninth nationally in 2011 with 1,549 rushing yards, and over the last two years has collected 2,678 yards on the ground to mark the most by any Fresno State running back in back-to-back seasons. He joins Harper as a Doak Walker Award nominee, and has also been named to the preseason watch lists for the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards.

Thomas, a defensive back from Bakersfield, Calif., returns to the field after suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle three days before the 2011 season opener, causing him to miss the entire season. As a sophomore in 2010, he led the Bulldogs with 19 pass breakups and three interceptions, while finishing fifth on the team with 64 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and two forced fumbles.

In 2011, Williams recorded 78 total tackles, including 7.5 for loss and two sacks, to rank third on the squad. The native of Reno, Nev., has a career 189 tackles at defensive back for the Wolf Pack, including 10 for loss and three interceptions.

Katz joins the Aztec offense after earning his bachelor's degree at Oregon State and transferring to San Diego State. The quarterback from Santa Monica, Calif., played three seasons for the Beavers, seeing action in 18 games and making 14 career starts. He completed 240-of-407 passes (59.0 percent) for 2,737 passing yards and 19 touchdowns.

McFadden, the 2012 MW Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, has played in every game for the Aztecs the last three years and enters his senior campaign with 127 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five interceptions, three sacks and 27 broken passes. The product of Inglewood, Calif., is also a preseason candidate for both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player) and the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back).

The top 100 seniors in the country will be invited to participate in the 2013 Senior Bowl, which will be held Sat., Jan. 26 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Appearing on the Watch List is not a requirement for a player to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Invitations for the 2013 Senior Bowl will be begin being extended in the next few weeks and continue throughout the 2012 season.

Tickets for the 2013 Senior Bowl are currently available for purchase at the Senior Bowl ticket office (151 Dauphin Street), online at or by calling (251) 432-4109.