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Mailbag leftover: What would a combined 2010 and 2021 Nevada football team look like?

Nevada football
The Nevada football team prepares for the 2010 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

On occasion, a Monday Mailbag question requires too much research for me to include in the weekly feature, so I end up writing it separately as a "Mailbag leftover." I got such a question this week from Joey Jacobsen, who asked me for a depth chart that combines Nevada football's 2010 and 2021 rosters. Let's break it down.

Of note: I am using the caliber of play each player displayed during the 2010 and 2021 seasons. For example, Brock Hekking was on Nevada's 2010 football team, but he was a true freshman and hadn't blossomed into an all-conference player yet, so he's not on the list even though he would be if we were talking about the form he showed during the 2012-14 seasons.

Offense

QB Colin Kaepernick (2010): You can't go wrong with Kaepernick or Carson Strong, but Kaepernick finished the 2010 season eighth in the Heisman Trophy vote and is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college history, so I'm taking him.

RB Vai Taua (2010): A battle of Tauas! And I'm sure Vai Taua would tell you his younger brother, Toa, is the more talented of the two. But I'm taking Vai considering he's the Wolf Pack's all-time leading rusher in the school's FBS era.

WR Rishard Matthews (2010): Nevada was more "solid" than "great" at wide receiver in 2010, but Matthews was a difference-maker and showed that in the wins over Boise State and Boston College. He was the MVP of both of those games.

WR: Romeo Doubs (2021): In 2020, Doubs was the Wolf Pack's first 1,000-yard receiver since Matthews in 2011, so they should both make the team, with Doubs the deep threat to Matthews' underneath routes.

WR Elijah Cooks (2021): This is a tossup between Cooks and Brandon Wimberly, one of the more underrated players in Wolf Pack history. And I guess I'll continue that theme of underrating Wimberly by going with Cooks in this spot.

TE Cole Turner (2021): This 100 percent comes down to whether you want a pass-catching tight end like Turner or a run-blocking tight end like Virgil Green, who spent a decade in the NFL. Two different players, but both were elite at Nevada.

LT Joel Bitonio (2010): Bitonio didn't play much during the 2010 season, his redshirt freshman year, but I'm still plugging him in at left tackle given how great of a player he became, both in college and in the NFL.

LG Chris Barker (2010): A future Wolf Pack Hall of Famer, Barker started every game of his college career and was a three-time all-conference honoree who spent a handful of seasons in the NFL.

C: Tyler Orsini (2021): The best center on either roster was Matt Galas, but Galas was a true freshman who didn't play in 2010. I'll give the slight edge to Orsini over the 2010 combination of Jeff Meads and Jordan Mudge.

RG: John Bender (2010): This one came down to a pair of nasty linemen in Bender and 2021's Aaron Frost. Both roughed up defenses in the run game, but we'll go with the big Canadian on this list.

RT: Jeff Nady (2010): Like Bitonio, Nady was a youngster in 2010, although he started 10 games that year after stepping in for an injured player before blossoming into an all-conference honoree in 2011 and 2012.

Defense

DE Dontay Moch (2010): The speed demon rush end had 22 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2010, and it might have been only his third best college season. That's how good he was!

DT Dom Peterson (2021): Peterson is the Wolf Pack's second-best college-level defensive lineman since Moch graduated (Malik Reed is first) and would thrive in a situation where he's not getting double-teamed on the interior.

DT Brett Roy (2010): If you want to go with Zack Madonick here for run-stopping purposes, I would not object, although Roy had a good 2010 (14.5 TFL, eight sacks) before becoming an All-American in 2011.

DE Ryan Coulson (2010): The Wolf Pack has certainly had more talented defensive linemen than Coulson, but he got the most out of his athletic ability and was a huge plus in the locker room. Plus, he was an excellent long snapper.

LB James-Michael Johnson (2010): Johnson was a four-year stud who finished his Nevada career with 295 tackles, including 37.5 for loss, 7.5 sacks and three interceptions before a stint in the NFL.

LB Brandon Marshall (2010): Before becoming a Super Bowl champ, Marshall was a standout for Nevada. His best season came in 2011, but Marshall was excellent in 2010, too. He finished college with 259 tackles, 33.5 TFL, six sacks and three picks.

LB Lawson Hall (2021): One of only two members of our front seven from the 2021 team, Hall has established himself as an all-conference player at Nevada and one of the best leaders in school history.

CB Berdale Robins (2021): Robins' scrappiness and confidence is a huge plus at the most difficult defensive position to play (cornerback). Despite being 5-foot-9, he's an elite man-to-man corner.

CB Isaiah Frey (2010): A two-time All-WAC selection, Frey's best season came in 2010 when he had five interceptions and 21 pass breakups (most in the FBS), but he also was an all-conference pick in 2010.

S Duke Williams (2010): A battering ram, Williams was a three-year starter for Nevada who racked up 292 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions before a four-year NFL career.

S Tyson Williams (2021): Technically, both Williams (Duke) and Williams (Tyson) played strong safety, so one would have to shift to free safety, but I'd rather do that than pigeon-hole less talented a free safety onto our depth chart.

Special teams

K Brandon Talton (2021): Anthony Martinez nailed the most famous kick in Wolf Pack history, the overtime boot to beat Boise State, but I'd still take Talton, who has made 84 percent of his college field-goal attempts (Martinez was at 70 percent).

P Julian Diaz (2021): Brad Langley was an excellent punter for Nevada's 2010 team. He averaged 42.6 yards per punt during his three years at Nevada; Diaz was at 46.3 yards per kick last season and had only one touchback.

So, the final tally includes 14 players from the Wolf Pack's 2010 team and 10 from the 2021 team. That 2010 team had 13 future NFL players. I doubt this 2021 roster will match that total, but only time will tell.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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