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2021 Recruiting Breakdown: Utah State

A class built from every option under the sun

NCAA Football: Utah State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the final post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #12 team in our rankings, Utah State.

The Aggies had a small class before the coaching change, and it got smaller when players didn’t sign in December. Utah State was forced to compile their class by any means necessary. They signed high school players, transfers, JUCO players, and returning missionaries. Although it is non-traditional, perhaps the talent can be enough to cover the gaps for a season or two while developing high school talent, assuming they follow that strategy. To see what the Aggies put together, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 19 players signed.
  • 5 high school players, 1 JUCO player, 10 transfers, 3 returning missionaries
  • 9 offensive, 10 defensive
  • 4 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating over 85: 0
  • Players with a composite rating between 82-84: 1
  • Breakdown by state: 7 Utah, 4 Texas, 2 California, 1 Alabama, 1 Florida, 1 Oklahoma, 1 Washington
  • 136th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

Transfer QB Logan Bonner

Logan follows Coach Anderson from Arkansas State. He knows the system and is productive in the system as a mobile passer. Bonner has a big, accurate arm with a nice touch on deep balls. He is adept at throwing on the run while also possessing solid footwork when he stays in the pocket. Logan may have the edge on the starting quarterback job for the Aggies next fall.

Transfer RB Calvin Tyler

Calvin is a running back transfer looking to inject some life into the Hawaii running game. His tape demonstrates his break-away speed as he is simply quicker than others on the field. Tyler has long strides and hits his max burst from his first few steps, ensuring he is at top speed when he hits the hole. He is strong enough to break arm tackles and stiff-arm defenders. Calvin should fit nicely into the Rainbow Warrior pro-style offense.

WR Martavious Davis

Martavious is an athlete who was announced as a wide receiver for the Aggies. He is great in space and changes direction with ease. Davis excels in the short passing game, turning easy catches into explosive plays with his legs. He can also stretch the field on deep throws as he gets behind the secondary with little issue. Martavious has the potential to be electric for Utah State during his career.

WR Otto Tia

Otto is another wide receiver in this class. He is the type of player who is dangerous with the ball in space. Tia can be used in multiple ways; over the middle, on deep throws, and on jet sweeps. He excels at picking up yards after the catch and finds another gear after securing the ball. Otto is a good bet to become a key player for the Aggies at some point in his career.

Transfer WR Brandon Bowling

Brandon comes over to Utah State from Kansas. His film depicts him as a dependable slot receiver who finds the hole in the zone to make the play. Bowling has plus game speed and uses it to gain separation before the catch and pile up yards after the catch. He displays great hands and changes directions fluidly. Brandon should have now issue cracking the receiver rotation come fall.

TE Jackson Rigby

Jackson comes to the Aggies as a tight end. He is an impressive route-runner with reliable hands to make difficult catches. Rigby usually lines up on the outside, where he is a mismatch with his height and sneaky speed. He is a prime target in the redzone and works hard to gain separation. Jackson should become quite a go-to target for future Aggie offenses.

OL Seni Tuiaki (returning from LDS mission)

Here’s what we wrote on Seni in 2018: Tuiaki looks like he will fit nicely as a defensive end down the line, although he played on both sides of the ball in high school. He’s extremely aggressive and doesn’t give up on plays. Tuiaki is determined to do something on each snap that will benefit the team.

Transfer OL Maisen Knight

Maisen comes to Utah State via the transfer portal from Liberty. He brings size and experience to a team in desperate need of both on their offensive line. Knight shuffles his feet well to square up on blockers and puts his entire body into hits. He is very active on the line and opens up sizeable holes for the running game. Maisen can slot in a few places but seems best as a guard.

Transfer OL Quazzel White

Quazzel is another Power 5 transfer the Aggies landed in this class. He is a powerful blocker who contains defenders with his large frame and mobility. White is extremely fluid and balanced as he moves backward in pass-protection. He picks up blitzes well and keeps his head up to see defensive schemes. Quazzle brings experience against top competition and should play right away.

JUCO DT Aurion Peoples

Aurion is fast and explosive off the line of scrimmage, laying physical hits as he sheds blockers to stop the run game. He keeps a low center of gravity and is mobile, which allows him to fill in gaps and get to the ball in a hurry. Peoples tackles well in space and is strong enough to fight through double teams. He brings experience coming from the junior college level and will likely step into a role right away next year.

Transfer DL Jahaziel Lee

Jahaziel comes from Georgia Tech as a transfer. He’s difficult to block off the line with only one person and keeps his hands active in the backfield. Lee is very disruptive at the line of scrimmage, getting off blocks, shutting down the run game, and terrorizing the quarterback. He has sneaky speed as well for someone with his size. Jahaziel adds immediate depth on the defensive line.

DE Tupou Maile

Tupou is one of the rare high school players in this class. He is physical at the line of scrimmage and gets off his blocks quickly. Maile attacks blockers, running backs, and quarterbacks alike, using his strength to stop the opposition in their tracks. He pounces on ball-carriers and wraps them up to complete a big play. Tupou should be able to develop into a productive pass-rusher during his time in college.

DE Johnson Hansen (returning from LDS mission)

Here’s what we wrote on Johnson in 2018: Hansen displays great strength and looks great as an interior defensive lineman. He has really nice speed for someone of his size and doesn’t over-pursue players, which often allows him to be in a good position to make a play.

LB Sione Moa (returning from LDS mission)

Here’s what we wrote on Moa in 2019: 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.

Transfer LB Byron Hobbs-Vaughns

Byron is a former top recruit coming transferring from Texas. He jumps out on film as a tenacious pass-rusher with a high motor. Hobbs-Vaughs is a premium athlete who even played wide-receiver in high school to showcase his speed and play-making ability. He is physical on the line and gets by blockers with no problem. Byron should play almost immediately next fall.

Transfer LB Patrick Joyner

Patrick is yet another transfer, this one coming from Miami. He is an energetic pass-rusher who doesn’t give up on plays. Joyner displays a combination of strength and speed that allows him to attack the quarterback with little issue. He doesn’t over-pursue on a play and squares up well on his hits to prevent players from escaping. Patrick looks like a great addition to the Utah State roster.

Transfer LB Justin Rice

Justin returns to the Mountain West after a year away. He played a multitude of positions in high school, displaying his athletics and play-making ability. Rice is a hard, physical tackler who flies around the field, flocking to the ball and making plays. He can also handle coverage responsibilities with no issue. Being a former Fresno State player, Justin has knowledge of the conference to go along with his skills, which should allow him to dominate on the field.

DB Isaac Larsen

Isaac is a talented high school player coming to the Aggies in this class. He is an athletic two-way player who makes big plays on both sides of the ball. Larsen analyzes plays quickly and flocks to the ball quickly. He is a big-hitter in the open field and comes in and out of his backpedal smoothly. Although he may still need to adjust to the college level, Isaac should develop into a good player in college.

Transfer DB Kyle Mayberry

Kyle rounds out the transfers in the Aggie class, this one at defensive back. He is fluid and athletic on the field, coming in and out of breaks without any issue. Mayberry is dangerous with the ball in his hands, as he is elusive and has plenty of speed. He can be a potential game-changer on special teams with his ability as a returner. Kyle looks like he will see the field in some kind of role next year.

Team Writer’s Thoughts:

At first glance this doesn’t look like a great recruiting class for Utah State, especially since they rank last in the Mountain West and it is a class that has various positions. The Aggies didn’t bring in too many high school players but brought in a lot of transfers, and this might actually work out better for the Aggies as one of the reasons they struggled was because of lack of experience and production at certain positions. They have a new head coach and COVID really affected the way that recruiting works as coaches weren’t able to go out and build strong relationships with recruits in person.

Two of the problems Utah State had last season was that there wasn’t enough production on offense and the defense also gave up big plays at times. It is a little interesting that Utah State didn’t try to get more receivers in this recruiting class as that has been a unit that has struggled the past two seasons, but they did add Brandon Bowling from Arkansas State and Jackson Rigsby, who could make a great tight end for the Aggies. Things could change under new coach Blake Anderson and the assistants that he brings. Utah State’s offensive line didn’t play as good as many thought they would last season but the Aggies were able to add players with experience in a couple of transfers. Utah State used the recruiting class primarily to load up on the defensive front and the at the linebacker position. Defensive End Tupou Maile is a physical player up front and could likely be an immediate starter for the Aggies.

At quarterback, Utah State will have some thinking to do between Logan Bonner and Andrew Peasley, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Utah State start next season playing both quarterbacks and go with the guy who makes more plays.

Overall, the recruiting class, which ranks 136th in the nation isn’t a great one but the transfers and new coaching staff could be exactly what Utah State needs to make improvements from the 2020 and 2019 seasons. Utah State was very successful in 2018 due to an efficient offense and it will no doubt be something Blake Anderson emphasizes to his team as they begin the season at Washington State.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Maile

Graham: Maile

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Maile, Larson

Graham: Maile, Larson, Turner (transfer), Davis, Rice (transfer)

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Davis

Graham: Rigby

Best unit:

Mike: Linebacker, Running back

Graham: Linebacker, Offensive line

Summary:

In a way, Utah State’s class seems all over the place, but it appears that is part of the plan. They left no stone unturned in their quest to find the best talent they could. Several recruits have talent that is clear to see on tape. It is more difficult for others to determine, either because they were on a mission and haven’t played football for two years, or else they are former top recruits who haven’t seen much time on the field the past few years. All of that aside, the Aggies identified their players and secured them in this 2021 class.

Previous: San Diego State, Boise State, UNLV, Fresno State, Nevada, Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico, San Jose State, Wyoming, Hawaii

Thanks to everyone who followed along in this series! It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun as well. The hope is this provided a taste of the talent coming into the Mountain West next fall.