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Utah State football: A closer look at quarterback depth

How does Utah State's quarterback depth look going into 2015.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The blues musician Albert King coined the phrase "If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at  all." Many Aggie fans must share the same sentiment as King when it comes to the past two football seasons.

Granted, in recent seasons the Aggies have reached heights that they never had before - including 30 wins in the past three seasons, three straight bowl wins, four straight bowl appearances - but what could have been if it weren't for a rash of unfortunate injuries? No position group saw more injuries these past few years than the Aggie quarterbacks.

First there was Chuckie Keeton's ACL in 2013, and then there was Keeton's knee again in 2014, followed by Darrel Garretson's wrist, and then finally Craig Harrison's ACL. No team started more quarterbacks in 2014 than the Aggies did.

The fact that the Aggies were able to reach their fourth straight bowl game is a testament to the hard work put 
in by the coaching staff, the defense and of course the young guns who stepped up under center with 
the mantra "next man up."

Coming in to the 2015 season, Aggie fans are cautiously optimistic that this season will be the return of Keeton that everyone saw in the first five games of the 2013 season prior to his first knee injury. But the fact of the matter is, knee injuries are very difficult to come back from and no one will know for sure how Chuckie will play prior to Sept 3rd. I'm not writing this article to prognosticate about the season that Keeton will have. This article is about the depth behind Keeton.

As a college football fan, I hope we don't have to see that depth until next season. But, regardless of whether Keeton can stay healthy, the departure of Darrel Garretson at least leaves an opening after Keetion

So, let's talk about the other quarterbacks on the Aggie roster.


The quarterback that most Aggie fans are familiar with is sophomore Kent Myers. Myers was the second true freshman in as many seasons to lead the Aggies to a bowl victory as he started the final six games for the Aggies. Myers led the Aggies to a 5-1 record in those games and was named the offensive MVP of the New Mexico Bowl.

Myers was very efficient in his time as the starter completing 66.4 percent of his passes. Myers struggled at times, as is to be expected from a true freshman quarterback, but he also showed some flashes of potential. He is a true dual-threat as he rushed for over 300 yards and 5 TDs.

Myers also showed his commitment to the team and his desire to contribute when he approached the coaching staff this spring and offered to play wide receiver in hopes of seeing more playing time. Time will tell if this wide receiver experiment continues into fall camp or if the coaches choose to keep him with the quarterbacks full-time. 
With more time to develop under Coaches Josh Heupel and Matt Wells, expect more good things from Myers in the future.


The Aggies also have some local flavor in the QB room with former Logan High QB and redshirt freshman DJ Nelson. Nelson had one of the most impressive high school careers in Utah football history as he threw for 3,489 yards and 49 TDs to go along with 1,605 rushing yards and 25 TDs rushing as a senior.

He also led the Grizzlies to a 14-0 record and a state title. Despite Nelson's gaudy numbers, he wasn't heavily recruited due primarily to his size (he's listed as 5'9" on USU's roster). The hometown Aggies gave him a shot, and after a two year LDS mission and a redshirt season in 2014, he is working his way up the depth chart.

This spring saw Nelson gradually earn more reps and appears to have passed up Damion Hobbs. Nelson showed flashes of potential in spring ball, and the competitive drive that helped him lead Logan High to a state championship may help lead him to see the field in the future.


The Aggies have another young talent in sophomore Damion Hobbs. Hobbs is a transfer from Oregon who was originally committed to Utah State out of high school. After spending a year at Oregon, Hobbs returned to Utah State. Hobbs has the physical tools to be successful as a D-1 college quarterback.

He has good size at 6'2" 220 lbs. After sitting out all of 2014 due to transfer rules, Aggie fans finally got to see their first real taste of Hobbs this spring. Hobbs was limited by poor O-line play playing with the 3rd string and as a result never really looked comfortable in the pocket.

Additionally, due to the non-contact nature of spring ball in regards to QBs, fans were also unable to see where he really shines - in the run game. Hobbs may be the odd man out when it comes to QBs considering fellow ophomore Myers has already started 6 games for the Aggies. If nothing else, he should provide good  competition going forward.


Finally, with the departure of Garretson, the coaching staff decided to bring in another QB (and possibly two). Cade Smith is a 3-star QB out of Oregon who Wyoming fans will recognize as the younger brother of former-Cowboy QB Brett Smith. The coaching staff originally intended to grey-shirt Smith this season but Garretson's transfer freed up a scholarship and Smith will now be on campus this fall with the rest of the 2015 class. Expect Smith to redshirt and compete for a starting job as early as 2016.

The Aggies are also rumored to be after a late-signee JuCo QB to fill the spot left by Garretson. One guy the Aggies seem to have their eye on is Deondre Ford out of Dodge City CC in Kansas. Ford is talented dual-threat QB who would provide some additional depth and competition for the next couple seasons.

The departure of Darrel Garretson definitely hurts the Aggies' depth going forward in 2015 and opens up the QB race for 2016, but if the past two years have taught us anything, no matter who lines up behind center for Utah State, he will be ready to go. And if the football gods have any mercy, all the good luck that the Aggies have missed out on the past two years will return this year with a memorable and healthy 2015 season from Chuckie Keeton.