Alaska players to watch this college football season

Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello (3) throws a pass under pressure by Southern California defensive lineman Brandon Pili (91) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Few things make Alaskans more proud than watching former prep stars shine on college’s biggest stage.

With most college football programs beginning their seasons this week, there are many former Alaska standouts (in no particular order) who you can watch this season.

Dimond
Brandon Pili – University of Southern California

The first football player from Alaska to play at USC, Pili has slowly been making a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball. Pili has appeared in 21 games over two seasons, made 21 tackles and two for loss. The USC website has Pili in the mix for a starting job heading into the 2019 season, but 247Sports reported in mid-August that Pili battled the injury bug during fall camp. Still, Pili was named to the 2019 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award watch list. The Trojans begin their season Saturday against Fresno State.

Bartlett
Thomas Sio – Oregon State

The 344-pound offensive lineman seems to be settling in nicely in Corvallis for the Beavers. The Bartlett product did turn some heads in Early August, Oregonian beat reporter Nick Daschel wrote Sio was one of the bigger surprises for the offensive line and spent some time with the Beaver’s second unit. The Beavers host Oklahoma State on Friday.

Ethan Falaniko - Concordia St. Paul

The former Gatorade Player of the Year has taken his talents to Concordia University-Saint Paul in Minnesota. The running back previously played two seasons for the University of South Dakota before transferring. Falaniko ran for 2,053 yards and 33 touchdowns in nine games for the Golden Bears his senior year of high school and will look to translate those numbers to college as he plays for the Golden Bears again, this time in a different state.

South

Justice Augafa – Hawaii

Augafa had a successful career at South winning a pair of state championships, and was a two-time all-state player on both offensive and defense. He graduated in 2015 from South, and attended LA Harbor College before playing for University of Hawaii. During Augafa’s junior season with the Warriors he played in 10 games as their primary kick returner.

East
Colton Herman – Bemidji State

Herman did it all for the Thunderbirds last season, averaging more than 13 yards per carry on offense, more than 40 tackles on defense, and was named Gatorade Player of Year. The Bemidji State website has Herman as a defensive back.

Julian Baker – Bemidji State

Baker will join his former East teammate on the defensive side of the ball listed as a defensive end for Bemidji State. Baker enters his freshman campaign with the Beavers, an NCAA Division II program in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Aiden Williams – Minnesota Duluth

Williams rounds out the trio of Thunderbirds playing football in Minnesota as he suits up for Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs kick off their season on Sept. 5 against Minot State.

Chugiak
Derryk Snell—Montana State

The 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year redshirted his freshman season with the Bobcats and will look to earn a starting job. The program's website touted Snell as a big, physical tight end, but could spend some time at fullback. Montana’s KULR reported the MSU’s depth chart, and Snell is currently listed as the team’s backup fullback. The Bobcats kickoff against Texas Tech Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

Soldotna
Brenner Furlong - Dakota State

Furlong heads into his second season with the Trojans and split carries with the starting running back his freshman year. The Soldotna High School standout will look to build on a small sample size in 2018 running for a 100 yards. The Trojans open up with Dakota Wesleyan University on Thursday.

Kenai Central
Conner Johnson - Adams State

Johnson named a team captain heading into the 2019 season and reaping the rewards of a position change according to the Peninsula Clarion. Initially, when Johnson went to Colorado he was a defensive end, but quickly moved to the offensive line where he was all-conference at left tackle. The senior kicks off his senior season at Colorado School of Mines September 7th.

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