Welcome to the tenth piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. These articles aim to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured, in order of where they fall in their current MWCConnection ranking. Today looks at Utah State.
10th in MWCConnection Recruiting Rankings.
It wasn’t the ten-win dream season of 2018, but the Aggies persevered through their tough schedule and became bowl eligible. They almost knocked off Wake Forest in their opener and then rattled off three wins in a row against Stony Brooke, San Diego State, and Colorado State. Then got destroyed by LSU and then throttled Nevada before looking pretty lifeless against both Air Force and BYU. They beat Wyoming in a close contest before not being able to do much of anything against Boise State. They finally closed out their regular season with a victory over New Mexico.
Utah State loses the majority of their core stars following this season with both Jordan Love and David Woodward leaving early for the NFL draft. Offensively, they are holes to fill at quarterback, running back, and they could use some youth on their two-deep at tight end and some wide receiver spots. Looking at the defense, linebacker is good for now, at least, but the defensive line and secondary could use some reloading.
The Road So Far:
The Aggies went around the country and even around the globe for the seven members of this class they have signed during the December period. Three members came out of California, which unsurprisingly was the most out of any state. Rounding things out, one player signed from Texas, another from Oregon, then a player from Nevada and finally one from the other side of the world in Australia.
This first round saw Utah State take only one player on the offensive side of the ball. However, they made it count in running back Elelyon Noa. He had an accomplished high school career in a strong conference and figures to be a productive member of their offense down the line.
Switching to the rest of the class over on defense, they are a few players who look like they could become all-conference selections during their careers. Defensive tackle Poukesi Vakauta signed with the team, but he will delay his enrollment and take a two-year LDS mission before joining the program. That is balanced out by JC lineman James Hansen joining the program to play immediately. Dahlin Mesake comes in as one of the best linebacker recruits in the conference and could play sooner rather than later. Then, a pair of DBs, junior college transfer Xavion Steele will help right away, and high school player Luke Marion who also has the talent to see the field right away. The class is rounded out by Aussie punter Stephen Kotsanlee, and his style of play should translate well to the college game.
Number who signed in December: 7
Number who will enroll early: 2
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: QB, WR, OL, TE, DL, LB
Utah State signed only seven players, which is on the low end for the conference and was the lowest among schools that did not have a coaching change, which makes things a bit confusing. Out of the players they did sign, four of them likely have enough talent to contribute right away, which is big for a team losing their star players.
Looking ahead and there are more boxes left unchecked than ones which were checked in December. The offensive still needs a quarterback, a tight end, probably two offensive linemen, and at least one or two wide receivers. The defense may require less work, but it wouldn’t hurt to add two defensive linemen, at least one linebacker and one or two defensive backs. They have space to add more players as well. Now it’s a matter of finding players. The Aggies could do better mining local talent in their home state, which is something they usually do well.
If Utah State can add another eight to ten players, mostly on offense and a handful of those being in-state recruits, then it will likely be a successful 2020 class for them. It’s a large number of ifs, though. The coaching staff has their work cut out for them, and now all that’s left is to get it done.
Previous posts: Boise State, Wyoming, Nevada, San Jose State, Air Force, Fresno State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Hawaii
Coming tomorrow: UNLV