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Wide-receiver Tyjuan Price, center, pushes through the melee for a few more yards. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

After a remarkable 2017 season, the Weber State University football team is drawing eyes nationally with a preseason rank of 18 and with five players named to the HERO Sports 2018 preseason All-American team.

WSU was ranked 37th in the FCS preseason ranking last year, and blew those expectations out of the water, finishing with perhaps the greatest season in school history.

The Wildcats finished 2017 with a school-record 11 wins and shared the Big Sky Title with Southern Utah.

Weber State also included two wins in the FCS Playoffs, one over in-state rival SUU, and were ranked fifth in the last rankings put out by the FCS, the highest ranking in school history.

When asked about being ranked at 18, Coach Jay Hill said he honestly doesn’t care about rankings, because what really matters is how you respond to those rankings.

“What people say before the season doesn’t matter much to me…I think you just put your head down and go, and put your focus on getting W’s because you love football.”

It will be a tall task trying to top those numbers from last season, but having five preseason All-Americans return should certainly help.

Seniors Brady May, Iosua Opeta, and Legrand Toia, along with sophomores Rashid Shaheed and Trey Tuttle were all named to the preseason All-American team. All five of those Wildcats earned All-American honors during the 2017 season.

Weber state has the most preseason All-Americans in the Big Sky conference with five, and they are second to all other FCS teams. Only the defending national champions North Dakota State had more players named with six.

As a freshman, Trey Tuttle led the entire Big Sky Conference in scoring, with 116 points on the season. The next closest player had 94 points. Tuttle was 19 of 22 on his field goal attempts, and as one of the most accurate kickers in the nation, he was named an All-American during the 2017 season.

His 19 made field goals are tied for the most in WSU history. He also converted on 53 extra points, and even added a touchdown.

Rashid Shaheed was named an All-American as a freshman last season for his performance on special teams. He finished fourth in the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 29.7 yards per return, the best single-season average in school history. Shaheed had two kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a 100-yard return.

Iosua Opeta is returning as a senior, and has played in all 37 games in his three seasons at WSU. As an offensive lineman, he earned third-team All-American honors by the Associated Press last season, and he was also named to the Big Sky All-Conference first-team.

Brady May earned Big Sky All-Conference honors at two positions during Weber’s historic 2017 season. He was named to the first-team All-Big Sky honors as a special teams player, while also being named to the second team as a fullback.

Legrand Toia started in all 13 games for the Wildcats last season, and led the team in tackles with 76. He also recorded five sacks on the season, which was second most on the team, and second among all linebackers in the conference.

Toia earned second-team All-American honors by the American Football Coaches Association, and was also named to the Big Sky All-Conference first-team.

“We have some great players, and I think there could have been a few more named All-Americans,” Hill said. “I hope they will stay humble though, and just keep grinding and keep working. If they continue to do that, I think those five will be some of the top performers in the country.”

The Wildcats will be challenged early next season, as they kick off the season on August 30 against the University of Utah.

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