10 Aztecs Named Athlon Preseason All-Conference


SAN DIEGO – The preseason honors have began rolling in as 10 San Diego State football players were named preseason all-Mountain West by Athlon Sports last week. Tupu Alualu, Louis Brown IV, Kenan Christon, Marquez Cooper, Marlem Louis, Kyle Moretti, Myles Murao, Mekhi Shaw, Ross Ulugalu-Maseuli and Bennett Walker were all named to the all-conference teams by the football magazine.

Athlon's all-conference teams are based on how players are expected to perform in 2024. Career statistics and awards matter in evaluation, but choosing players for the 2024 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year. Also, team strength does not play a role in selections. These are the best individual players at each position in the league for 2024.

Marquez Cooper (Running Back): Second-Team Offense
Cooper transfers into San Diego State after one year at Ball State and three years at Kent State under head coach Sean Lewis. The FBS active rushing leader has registered three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and owns 3,856 for his career. He also leads all active FBS running backs with 33 rushing touchdowns. A three-time all-MAC selection, he has 15 games of 100-yard rushing games including a career best 240-yard performance during his 2022 campaign. Last year with the Cardinals, he ran for 1,043 yards and four touchdowns on 227 carries, averaging 86.9 yards per game.

Kenan Christon (Running Back/Kick Return): Second-Team Specialists
Christon is the Aztecs' top returning running back and kick returner for the 2024 season. As the team's primary kick returner, he returned 15 kicks for 331 yards (22.1 avg., 2nd in MW) earning an honorable mention in the all-Mountain West postseason awards. The senior led San Diego State last season with 910 all-purpose yards, including four games of 100-plus. Against Boise State, he totaled 104 yards on three kick returns including a career-long of 71 as part of a 155 all-purpose yard performance.

Louis Brown IV (Wide Receiver): Third-Team Offense
Brown is coming off a breakout season in 2023 for Colorado State, recording 47 catches for 481 yards and five touchdowns. He recorded the first 100-yard game of his career with 131 yards on 10 catches with a touchdown against Colorado last year and went on to catch a touchdown in three of the final four games of the season.

Myles Murao (Offensive Line): Third-Team Offense
Murao started the first five games of the 2023 campaign before missing time due to injury. Playing every snap of every game he started, he lined up at multiple spots on the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks as San Diego State's top returning offensive lineman. Per PFF's grading, he had a 77.8 offensive rating and 88.3 pass block rating in the season finale victory over Fresno State, his highest marks of the season.

Ross Ulugalu-Maseuli (Offensive Line): Third-Team Offense
A 2023 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award watch list selection, Ulugalu-Maseuli started the first nine games of the season before missing two of the final three games to injury. In those first nine games, he was one of just two Aztecs to play all 589 offensive snaps coming at three different positions on the offensive line. He is the second-highest graded lineman returning to the Aztecs' roster for the upcoming season.

Marlem Louis (Defensive Line): Third-Team Defense
Louis is coming to The Mesa after five seasons at Richmond where he helped the Spiders to a share of the 2023 CAA title and back-to-back FCS playoff appearances. A two-time all-conference selection, he totaled 110 tackles in his career including 30 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. Last year, his 12.0 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks led the team as part of a 44-tackle season.

Kyle Moretti (Linebacker): Third-Team Defense
Moretti comes to SDSU after three years at Central Michigan, where he was a two-time all-MAC linebacker. In 34 games with the Chippewas, he totaled 207 tackles (116 solo), 16.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks and seven pass breakups. He was a third-team all-conference honoree last year, starting all nine games he appeared in finishing second on the team with 65 tackles. The Colorado native also made 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and four pass breakups.

Tupu Alualu (Defensive Line): Fourth-Team Defense
Alualu was also named to the 2023 watch list for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year. The top returning defensive lineman on the 2024 roster, he totaled 28 tackles last season which ranked second most among the d-line. He also recorded 4.0 tackles for loss on the year, including 3.0 sacks, both of which rank most among returning Aztecs.

Bennett Walker (Cornerback): Fourth-Team Defense
Walker, a San Diego native, returns to his hometown team after a year at Eastern Michigan. Playing all 13 games with the Eagles last year, he totaled 23 tackles, five pass breakups and three interceptions. A 2022 all-Southern honoree, he began his collegiate career at nearby San Diego Mesa.

Mekhi Shaw (Wide Receiver/Punt Returner): Fourth-Team Specialists
An all-Mountain West honorable mention as both a wide receiver and punt returner last year, Shaw is the top returning Aztec at both positions for the 2024 season. As the team's starting punt returner, he totaled 14 returns for 101 yards. His 14 punt returns and 7.2 punt return average both ranked fourth in the conference a year ago.

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