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2019 Recruiting Breakdown: Utah State

Aggies bring in a boatload of signees, and some talent as well.

NCAA Football: New Mexico Bowl-North Texas vs Utah State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the fifth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #5 team in our rankings, Utah State.

Utah State had a scare shortly before signing day when they went through a coaching change and still managed to keep almost their entire class signing fourteen players in December. Then, with the new staff in tact, they found a way to top that by securing an additional sixteen signees. Needless to say, the quantity of this class along will go a long way to restock the program. As to the quality of the incoming talent, read below to take a closer look.

Note: I’ll just say this right off the bat. I’m not sure of all the ins of outs of how Utah State was able to sign 30 players, but I can speak generally. If a player is taking an LDS mission, they don’t count for this class. Also, players who signed in December can actually count towards last year’s class if they didn’t sign the full 25 allotted players in the 2018 class. Therefore, if the team announced a player, we will discuss them here.

The Skinny:

  • 30 recruits signed (3 will take LDS missions, others aren’t all on scholarship)
  • 16 offensive, 12 defensive, 2 special teams
  • 17 players listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
  • Breakdown by state: 12 Utah, 7 California, 2 Oregon, 2 Texas, 1 Idaho, 1 Maryland, 1 Ohio
  • 89th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

QB Josh Calvin

  • Josh Calvin is one of the longest Aggie commits and one who didn’t waver during the coaching change. He makes quick reads and has a huge arm. Calvin knows when to stay in the pocket and wait for plays to develop and his tape shows he can make a variety of throws. In addition, he is a mobile quarterback and will extend lots of plays with his legs. Josh is a great quarterback who should fit very well into what Utah State was doing in their offense last year under Jordan Love.

QB Garrett Larson

  • Garrett Larson is another quarterback taken in this class. He does a good job keeping his feet moving in the pocket while at the same time keeping his eyes up to see downfield. Larson throws a nice deep ball and is able to be accurate to boot. He seems to make a lot of pre-snap reads, as he knows where he wants to go as soon as he has the ball. Garrett projects as a starting caliber QB at some point in his college career.

QB Cooper Legas

  • Cooper Legas is a true dual-threat quarterback, as he has a huge arm and is a competent runner. As a runner, he is shifty and makes cuts upfield well, making him difficult to bring down. As a passer, Legas is keeps his feet moving, and throws well on the move. Also, he does a pretty good job throwing across his body on routes. Though the Aggies took three quarterbacks in this class, Cooper certainly brings a different skill set to the table.

JUCO RB Jaylen Warren

  • Jaylen Warren comes in from the junior college ranks and had the best season numbers wise of any JUCO RB. He is explosive out of the box and reaches his top speed quickly, distancing himself from defensive backs trying to tackle him. He has a short compact and powerful frame, and makes good use of stiff arms to break tackles. Warren should step into the open starter role and continue to produce and put up big numbers.

RB/WR Oakley Hussey

  • Oakley Hussey is a diverse offensive weapon who will be used in a variety of ways with Utah State. He can line up wide, in the slot, in the backfield, or get the ball in motion. Hussey looks like an ideal player to be involved in the screen game and quick hitters out to the flat. He is also lightning in a bottle getting tosses outside the tackles or in the jet sweep game as a runner. Oakley will easily be the focal point of the offense during his time with the Aggies and if he produces how many imagine he will, he will also be the focal point of opposing defenses as well.

WR Cam Lampkin

  • Cam Lampkin is a nice wide receiver pickup for Utah State. He has great hands and excels with running after the catch. Lampkin lines up in the slot as well as out wide and has a diverse route tree at either spot. If he gets the ball in a bit of space, that’s when he’s at his best as he is very difficult to tackle. Cam will be a player who can do many things on offense and will allow the playbook to be diverse.

WR Ajani Carter

  • Ajani Carter was a late signee, decommitting from UTEP a few weeks before signing day. He has great game speed, consistently getting behind the secondary on his deep routes. Also, Carter is a big weapon in the screen game and is difficult to start one on one with his array of moves. He can be a valuable asset in the short or long passing game. With Ajani’s skillset, he is a pretty good bet to see the field next season.

WR Kanen Eaton

  • Kanen Eaton is a wide receiver with length and great hands who will look good for Utah State. He has long strides to get down field in a hurry and usually makes a quick move near the line of scrimmage to beat his defender. Eaton does a good job using his height on the sidelines to win jump balls against shorter cornerbacks. It’s easy to see him develop into a deep ball threat and Kanen should put up some nice numbers in a year or two for the Aggies.

WR Simon Thompson

  • Simon Thompson was a versatile athlete in high school, playing on both sides of the ball. However, it seems like he will be a wide receiver with Utah State. He has excellent speed and will make a reliable deep threat at the college level. Thompson has great hands and isn’t afraid of contact thanks to his time as a linebacker on defense. He may need to adjust to the college game a bit but should be another weapon for the Aggie offense in the years to come.

TE Jack Drews

  • Jack Drews was listed as a tight end as well as a linebacker, but he looks like a tight end at the college level. On either side of the ball, he is a physical player who likes to initiate contact and is often one of the smartest players on the field. Drews is a steady blocker who will make a difference in the run game with his big hits. As a receiver, he has reliable hands and a good route-runner, doing a lot of his work in the short passing game over the middle of the field. Jack should develop into a capable tight end before his college career is completed.

JUCO TE Mosese Manu

  • Mosese Manu comes from the junior college ranks and should be able to step in to a role right away. He lines up on the line to disguise whether he will stay in and block or run a route. Manu has great hands and is a reliable target in the short and intermediate passing game. He can line up off the line and is effective creating mismatches due to his size. Mosese should come in and be in the rotation right away and be able to make an impact.

OL Hunter Hill

  • Hunter Hill was a huge signing day surprise for the Aggies and quickly became one of the biggest gets in this class. Hill is tall strong and athletic, moving well from block to block and looks smooth going forward or backward in his blocks. He is extremely hard to beat as a defensive end as his technique is sound. Hunter has future left tackle written all over him and it will be interesting to see if he gets any snaps next season.

OL Jackson Owens

  • Jackson Owens has the type of build that would equip him well at any of the offensive line positions. He gets great push at the line of scrimmage when opening holes for run plays. Owens stays low despite his height and uses both his upper and lower body very well. He is rolled out a ton but does well enough in that role that it can carry over at the next level. Jackson should find a niche as a run blocking guard and will likely develop into a well rounded lineman.

OL Ashton Adams

  • Ashton Adams has ideal size for an interior player and should line up there once he arrives at Utah State. He is at his best in run plays, utilized by pulling to the run side and pancaking defenders with punishing hits. Adams squares up well on his pass protection blocks and has good footwork moving side to side. He is a well-rounded offensive lineman and it shouldn’t be a surprise if Ashton ends up carving out a role for himself early on in his career.

OL Aric Davison

  • Aric Davison showed he was more than capable of playing left tackle in high school and may be able to duplicate that at the college level. He is a physical blocker who unleashes his strength well in his blocks. Davison displays sound technique and stays low, utilizing his lower body, when delivering hits. He is mobile enough to get off the line and out in front of the play to make blocks in the second level on run plays. Aric is a good under the radar pickup for the Aggies.

OL Dean Rice

  • Dean Rice is another offensive linemen recruit in this class. He played both ways at the high school level and will carry that athleticism with him to the college ranks. Rice is physical and aggressive and has the endurance to play until the whistle. As an offensive lineman, he has a good understanding of his assignment on each play and executes his blocks well. Dean may need an adjustment period going to the next level but isn’t far off from playing time.

OL Sonny Makasini Jr

  • Sonny Makasini comes in with college-ready size at 6’3 and already over 300 pounds. He uses his size very well to push defenders back and open up huge holes for the skills players to do their thing. Makasini can move around too, as evidenced on his tape by how they use him in the run game. He explodes off the snap, getting his powerful lower body into all of his blocks. Sonny should become a staple on the line during his time with the Aggies.

DL AJ Vongphachanh

  • AJ Vongphachanh was playing on another level in high school. He was simply too big, too fast, and too strong for the competition, as evidenced by running right by would be blockers or even just pushing them straight into the quarterback. Vongphachanh has little trouble getting into the backfield and making life miserable for the QB and seems to have advanced moves for pass-rushing. He moves well laterally and can diagnoses run plays as they are developing and plugs up the gaps. AJ looks like he will develop into a great defensive lineman in college and could be a starter sooner rather than later.

DL Aaron Bredsgaurd

  • Aaron Bredsgaurd is a high motor athlete lining up at defensive end. He has the size of an interior player but the speed and moves of an outside pass rusher. Bredsguard goes full speed on every play and is simply too strong for opposing blockers to guard single handedly. He reads plays well and usually can blow them up at the line of scrimmage. Aaron may or may not be able to play next year but his future is certainly bright.

LB Jaymason Willingham

  • Jaymason Willingham is an athletic linebacker who kind of flew under the radar in the recruiting world this year. He has nice size on the outside and has tremendous closing speed to the ball. Willingham is skilled blitzing in the gaps and stepping in to shut down the run game. He’s a solid downhill runner who diagnoses plays quickly and commits to making the play. It would not be a surprise at all for Jaymason to see the field next year, either in four games or even burning his redshirt.

LB Christian Lavalle

  • Christian Lavalle is a classic middle linebacker, but he’s an impact player at that spot. He diagnoses plays quickly and closes the gap with nice closing speed paired with natural instincts. Lavalle moves well in space and executes fundamental and physical tackles, wrapping players up well. He specializes in blowing up run plays but can also pick up players out of the backfield in coverage. Christian could find his way on to the field next year in a backup and special teams role, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that role increasing before the season is over.

LB Sione Moa

  • Sione Moa is a nice athlete, who was athletic enough to be a wide receiver in high school but will suit up as a linebacker in college. He looks like a natural fit as a pass-rushing LB who uses speed and a running start to blow by blockers and get to the quarterback. Moa can also drop back into coverage and his speed and height allow him to matchup with tight ends very well. He can also play well in run support, flying around to plug up holes and match the speed of the running back. Sione should be a great weapon for the Aggies down the line and should be tough to keep off the field.

LB Kaleo Neves

  • Kaleo Neves is another linebacker who specializes in getting to the quarterback. He is a textbook tackler who is able to run all over the field, whether it is in coverage or as a blitzer. Neves does a great job putting himself in a position to be around the ball to make a play. When he coverage, he’s good in zone coverage where he can keep the play in front of him and close in to make a big open field tackle. Kaleo is one of those players who will do all the little things right that lead to making big plays.

DB Dom Tatum

  • Dom Tatum was a big pick up for Utah State in this recruiting class. He is a defensive back with nice size and he makes the most of it in coverage to counter bigger receivers while covering large parts of the field with his speed. Tatum moves very fluidly on tape, whether he’s moving forward, backward or sideways, he looks very smooth running around the field. He looks great at safety where he can make full use of his athleticism and should become a fixture in the secondary for the Aggies.

DB Bronson Olevao

  • Bronson Olevao is yet another two-way athlete, doubling as a running back and safety in high school but will be a safety in college. He is the type of athlete who can an impact all over the field. Olevao is at his best when he’s responsible for large parts of the field and can run around to make a play. He can close in on a pass to deflect a pass or make an interception. Bronson can also deliver a tackle while running full speed and it won’t be long before he’s showing those talents over at Utah State.

DB Keith Harris

  • Keith Harris looks like he will fit right in as a cornerback in college. He may be small but is aggressive and packs a hard hit when tackling. Harris is a nice athlete who can recover when getting beat off moves and finds a way to jump in front of passes to pick them off. He can also make an impact in the return game where he can use his speed in the open field to be electric. Keith should be a valuable player for the Aggies who can make a difference in a game in a few ways.

JUCO DB Tobias “Cash” Gilliam

  • Cash Gilliam is a nice junior college addition to the Aggies. He spends most of the snaps in his film playing safety and does well roaming around using his eyes to read plays and react. Gilliam can step in and cover receivers in the slot and does welling matchup up with them. Likewise, he can step up and aide in the run game, using his speed and physical nature to make an impact. Cash should compete for playing time right away in the fall.

JUCO DB Troy Lefeged

  • Troy Lefeged is another junior college defensive back who should be in the mix for a role next season. His film demonstrates that he does a great job not giving up on plays and flies across the field to make a tackle. Lefeged looks comfortable in his back pedal and does well keeping the play in front of him, which allows him to use great closing speed to make a play. He is can play in the run or the pass which suits him well as a safety. Troy is a nice addition to the Aggie defense.

K/P Pierce Callister

  • Pierce Callister can come in as both a kicker and punter and does both well. As a punter, he keeps the ball high in the air to maximize hang-time, and can also locate well to keep punts from being returned. As a kicker, Callister has a big leg on kickoffs and that carries over to field goals as well. Pierce should develop into a nice weapon for them in the special teams game.

LS Jesse Vasquez

  • Jesse Vasquez earned a scholarship as a long-snapper, which is a rare feat, so that alone tells you talent is there. The main things to watch for in this tape are accuracy, consistency, and placement of the ball right in the kicker’s hands. Vasquez checks off all three of those skills. Plus, he isn’t afraid to start blocking after he snaps, which is a nice bonus. He should be a multi-year contributor for the Aggies.

Team Writer Thoughts:

By all intents and purposes, the Aggies improved greatly on the recruiting front this year compared to last. According to 247 Sports, Utah State had the 9th best recruiting class in the Mountain West last season but had the 3rd best this cycle, behind only Boise State and Colorado State. Nationally, they jumped from 109th the 89th.

These rises in rankings are a welcomed trend, and Gary Andersen and staff will look to improve upon them every year for as long as they can. It’s no question they want to be on the same level as in-conference foe Boise State. BSU ended up with the highest rated recruiting class of all G5 schools at #50 nationally.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Lavalle, Hill, Calvin

Alex: LaValle, Hill, Lampkin, Calvin

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Lavalle, Hill, Calvin, Willingham, Thompson, Tatum

Alex: LaValle, Hill, Thompson

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: AJ Vongphachanh

Alex: Jaylen Warren

Best unit:

Mike: Linebacker, Offensive Line

Alex: Linebacker, Offensive Line

Summary:

It’s clear Utah State will be better next season due to this class. They add talent in pretty much every area and position. Considering the circumstances of the timing of the coaching change, this class is a major victory for the Aggies. The new staff has a lot of weapons and interesting athletes to attempt to develop and figure out how to use in the years to come. While not a sure thing, it will be a group of players to keep an eye on moving forward to see how it all shapes out.

Previous: Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, Fresno State

Tomorrow: San Diego State