Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/24/12
Although it has fallen on hard times in recent years, the Western Athletic Conference has produced some exceptional pro prospects over the years.  Players like Marshall Faulk, Jesse Sapolu, Willie Roaf and Logan Mankins all had (or are still having) stellar NFL careers.  While the level of football the conference plays is not what it used to be (especially after losing powerhouse Boise State to the Mountain West), there were still some great players this past season who will soon be looking to make their mark on the NFL.
 
Here are some of those players from the WAC who will turn heads at combine time prior to draft day.

Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State (6-0, 235)
 
Wagner is clearly the best pro prospect coming out this year.  He led the league in tackles with 147 (including 11.5 tackles for loss).  His 11.3 tackles-per-game ranked eighth this past season in FBS.
 
Wagner was the Most Outstanding Player at the Senior Bowl last month, with 7 tackles and an INT.  Wagner recorded 446 career tackles at Utah State, the most career tackles by a WAC player in over a decade.

Rishard Mattews, WR, Nevada (6-1, 212)
 
The explosive wideout caught 91 passes for 1,364 yards and 8 TDs in his senior season, including two games of over 200 yards.    Matthews caught TD passes in seven different games and tallied 24 combined receptions in his final two college games.
 
On top of his production from scrimmage was his 13.4 average on punt returns, for 307 total yards and 1 TD.  Matthews also returned a punt for a score against Boston College in the 2010 Fight Hunger Bowl.

Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State (5-10, 216)
 
The WAC Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1,517 yards this past season, and topped the 100-yard mark eight times.  Perhaps even more impressively, Turbin scored 23 TDs (19 rushing, 4 receiving) in 2011, finishing his collegiate career with 51 total TDs.
 
The junior had a pair of 80-yard runs during the season, and rushed for a career-high 208 yards against Idaho.  He also caught 17 passes for 171 yards during the season, including 4 receptions of over 20 yards.

James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada (6-1, 240)
 
The senior, who can play on the inside and the outside, finished the season with 100 tackles.  He finished his college career with a flourish, recording 13 tackles (11 solo) and a sack against Southern Miss in the Hawaii Bowl.  In the Wolfpack’s three games against ranked opponents, Johnson averaged just under 10 tackles a game (9.7).  He also recorded 1.5 sacks.

Taveon Rogers, WR/KR, New Mexico State (5-11, 188)
 
The multi-purpose senior caught 59 passes for 1,048 yards and also 26.5 yards per kickoff return, with 3 TDs.  Rogers’ 9 receiving TDs ranked 3rd in the WAC.  He posted three 100-yard games – including a 203-yard, 2-TD effort against Nevada.
 
Rogers led the conference with 196.3 all-purpose yards per game this past season – 41 yards better than the next-closest player.  He ranked third in the WAC in receiving yards per game (87.3) and was among the leaders with a 17.8 YPR average.

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