homepage logo

Weber State football picked 4th in Big Sky preseason polls for 2022 season

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Jul 26, 2022

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State offensive lineman Noah Atagi (79) prepares for a snap against Northern Colorado on Nov. 20, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

Preseason team polls and all-conference player honors were revealed over the holiday weekend as part of the Big Sky Conference’s football kickoff event in Spokane, Washington.

Weber State football was selected No. 4 in both media and coaches preseason polls, with Montana voted No. 1 in both.

Though his team has routinely been picked higher in recent years, ninth-year WSU head coach Jay Hill didn’t change his tune regarding preseason selections.

“The only thing that matters is who plays good on Saturdays, who can stay healthy, who can make the big plays when it’s most needed,” Hill said in a video WSU posted to social media. “We don’t ever buy too much into preseason rankings.”

Though Montana was on top in both polls, which are provided in full below, the top three in the coaches poll of Montana, Sacramento State and Montana State, in that order, were separated by two total poll points, and third-place Montana State had the most first-place votes.

“To win this league, you have to be ready to play every week … everybody’s good enough to get you if you don’t show up,” Hill said in an interview posted by the Big Sky. “To be one of the top four or five teams, you’re really going to be one of the top 10 teams in the country, so you really have to play well to be one of those teams.”

Of the six teams voted to finish in the top seven with Weber State, the Wildcats play them all in 2022.

“I think we’ve got a tough schedule, but other teams have a tough schedule by playing us,” WSU junior offensive lineman Noah Atagi said.

Junior cornerback Eddie Heckard added: “Last year, we had a tough schedule and we lost those close games. I think this year, we’ll turn that around and we’ll win. Last year, we lost for a reason so this year we can win.”

After four straight conference titles, Weber State finished sixth in the fall 2021 season and missed the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2015.

“A lot of us have a chip on our shoulder. We didn’t accomplish a lot of things we wanted to last year, so just getting back on track with who Weber State is in the Big Sky Conference,” Atagi said. “Just better communication as a team and just playing all out, all together … just being there for each other.”

Atagi was the lone WSU player voted to the preseason all-conference team, which is a one-team list (postseason all-conference typically honors three teams’ worth of players).

Hill pointed to the turnover margin as a key that will help Weber State return to the top of the Big Sky, emphasizing that WSU routinely lost the turnover battle in big games last season — which was uncharacteristic from the previous five seasons. And, he hopes key players can remain healthy.

“Last year, one of the most dynamic players in the conference for us, Josh Davis, played four games,” Hill said. “In 2017, when Kevin Smith played, he was maybe one of the most electric players in the league and he’s hardly played since. If we get our whole team on the field, we can beat anybody and can compete with anybody.

“We’ve got to go out and handle our business, which we did not do last year.”


Agati provided a humorous anecdote when explaining why he chose to play at Weber State. While prepping just down the road at Bonneville High School, Atagi did field other offers from Big Sky schools. While he ultimately felt Weber State was right for him personally, his father did also make his opinion known.

Atagi’s father, Miller, was a WSU lineman in the early 1990s.

“He was pretty tough. I had offers from other Big Sky schools and we would go on visits, and he would wear his Weber State stuff to other schools,” Noah Atagi said of his father. “At the end of the day, he was going to support me no matter what, but I knew the right decision for me was being with Coach Hill and Coach (Brent) Myers was the best thing for me.”


1. Montana (3), 111

2. Sacramento State (4), 110

3. Montana State (5), 109

4. Weber State, 84

5. UC Davis, 82

6. Eastern Washington, 76

7. Northern Arizona, 62

8. Idaho, 45

9. Portland State, 42

10. Cal Poly, 33

T11. Idaho State, 19

T11. Northern Colorado, 19


1. Montana (14), 356

2. Montana State (13), 352

3. Sacramento State (4), 335

4. Weber State, 261

5. UC Davis (1), 255

6. Eastern Washington, 236

7. Northern Arizona, 191

8. Portland State, 146

9. Idaho, 142

10. Cal Poly, 85

11. Northern Colorado 71

12. Idaho State, 66


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)