(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. - University of Wyoming juniors Xazavian Valladay and Keegan Cryder were named to the 2020 Mountain West Preseason All-Conference Football Team on Wednesday. The All-Conference team was selected by media members covering the Mountain West.
Valladay ended his sophomore season of 2019 being named to the All-Mountain West First Team as a running back in voting by conference head coaches and media. Cryder was named to the 2019 All-Mountain West Second Team as a center by the conference coaches and media. The two helped lead the Cowboys to an 8-5 record in 2019 and a 38-17 win over Georgia State in the 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
Wyoming is one of six Mountain West schools -- out of 12 conference institutions -- to have at least two players on this year's Preseason All-Mountain West team.
On July 15, Valladay was named to the prestigious Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum. The Forum annually presents the award to the nation’s top college running back.
Valladay is coming off a 2019 season in which he rushed for 1,265 yards to lead the Mountain West. He ranked 18th in the nation in rushing yards per game (105.4). The native of Matteson, Ill., also led the MW in all-purpose yards and ranked No. 26 in the nation, averaging 124.08 yards per game.
He rushed for 100 or more yards seven times in the 12 games he played in 2019, and he rushed for over 200 yards twice. His best games were 206 rushing yards vs. Nevada and 204 against Georgia State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. His other five 100-yard rushing games included: 118 vs. Missouri, 127 vs. New Mexico, 124 at Boise State, 114 at Utah State and 154 vs. Colorado State.
His 204-yard performance in Wyoming’s 38-17 Arizona Bowl victory earned Valladay a spot on the 2019 Associated Press All-Bowl Team. He also caught three passes for 91 yards in the bowl game and scored one touchdown rushing and one receiving while accounting for 295 all-purpose yards. Valladay was one of only three running backs in the nation named to the team, joining Penn State’s Journey Brown and Florida’s Lamical Perine.
On July 21, Cryder was recognized as one of the top returning interior linemen in the nation by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) as the FWAA announced its 2020 Outland Trophy Watch List. The Outland Trophy is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman.
During the 2019 regular season, Cryder played 769 total snaps and led Wyoming with over 100 knockdown blocks. He allowed only 1.0 sack for the entire 2019 season, and he was also called for only one penalty.
He was a key to the Wyoming offense ranking No. 2 in the MW and No. 23 in the NCAA in rushing offense, averaging 214.8 rushing yards per game as a team. Cryder helped Wyoming rank No. 4 in the Mountain West and No. 32 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed (1.62 per game).
Cryder and his offensive line teammates paved the way for four different Cowboys to record a total of 12, 100-yard rushing games in 2019.
The Wyoming offensive line unit was one of only two Mountain West O-Lines and one of only 24 nationally to be named to the Joe Moore Award Midseason Honor Roll for 2019.
2020 MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
QB Hank Bachmeier, Boise State
RB Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming
RB Charles Williams, UNLV
WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State
WR Warren Jackson, Colorado State
WR Tre Walker, San José State
OL Keegan Cryder, Wyoming
OL Parker Ferguson, Air Force
OL Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force
OL John Ojukwu, Boise State
OL Ilm Manning, Hawai‘i
TE Trey McBride, Colorado State
DL Scale Igiehon, Boise State
DL Dom Peterson, Nevada
DL Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
DL Keshawn Banks, San Diego State
LB Demonte Meeks, Air Force
LB Riley Whimpey, Boise State
LB Dequan Jackson, Colorado State
LB Justin Rice, Fresno State
DB Kekaula Kaniho, Boise State
DB Avery Williams, Boise State
DB Darren Hall, San Diego State
DB Tariq Thompson, San Diego State
P Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State
PK Brandon Talton, Nevada
KR Savon Scarver, Utah State
PR Avery Williams, Boise State