Welcome to the eleventh piece of 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 this year in alphabetical order. Today will look at Utah State.
Utah State had a magical season in 2021, complete with a Mountain West championship and a bowl game win. However, they came back down to earth in 2022. After a close win to open the year, the Aggies lost four straight games, some forgivable (Alabama) and some not so much (Weber State). A change at quarterback helped get their offense back on track and they ended up winning five of their last seven games and they went from left for dead to a bowl game. They ended up falling flat during the bowl game and finished 6-7 on the season.
Thus far through his first two classes, Coach Anderson has left no stone unturned when it comes to recruiting. He isn’t afraid to find players from high school, players coming or going on LDS missions, junior college players, or players from the transfer portal. Though the proportions of each are different this year, it’s more of the same overall. Read about it below.
The Road So Far:
Utah State signed a big class in December, totaling 23 players so far. Elevent of them come to play offense, meaning twelve are slated for defense. This cycle, they went heavy on junior college players, with ten of them, as opposed to only two transfers, plus eleven high school players. Per usual, they heavily recruited their home state of Utah, but also did work in California, Florida, Texas, and others.
Looking at the offense, the Aggie staff is very high on quarterback McCae Hillstead as well as running back Jaydon Bailey, both of which passed up P5 offers. Two other tailbacks join the fold with Zakkarii Black and junior college signee Davon Booth. Jackson Olsen is a local player with nice size and is complemented by speedy players Micah Davis and Kahanu Davis at wide receiver. Utah State signed two tight ends, and both high school player Will Monney and JUCO player Isaiah Alonzo are big targets. At offensive line, only two players were signed but they made them count, bringing in the very talented Taliafi Taala and Jr Sia at that spot.
Defensively, high schooler Justin Ena and Clifton Mosely Jr from junior college are being taken to play defensive tackle. Meanwhile, lanky Zion Andreasen, plus the experienced Cian Slone and Maka Tuakoi will slide into defensive end positions. At linebacker, Utah State identified transfer Gavin Barthiel as someone who can continue to develop and blossom into a big player for them. But the biggest focus on this side fo the ball with in the secondary. Local player Kadiyon Sweat was a nice get, while Chase Davis is one of the best players in this class. They are joined by three JUCO players, plus a transfer. Rondald Fuselier, Javar Strong, and Jaylen Martin all bring great size to their respective positions, while Malone Mataele has starting experience from in-state Rival Utah.
Number who signed in December: 23
Number who will enroll early: 16
247 Composite Rankings (subject to change):
- Overall: 108th
- Recruiting: 108th
- Transfer: 126th
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: OL, LB
Utah State has been aggressive in its recruiting efforts, and that has led to the majority of its class being compiled and signed as things stand now. They now look to continue that aggressiveness going into February to shore up a few positions. It is also worth mentioning they have players returning to from mission trips.
Offensive line linebacker are probably the two biggest areas of need for the team. The two o-line players they did sign both project to be multi-year starters. However, as they continue to restock that position, finding a transfer or junior college player is likely on the table. Linebacker is a position where they took one player and although it is not an immediate need, identifying a younger player to develop behind the veterans may be beneficial in the long run.
Expect the Aggies to put the finishing touches on this class over the next few weeks. They are no strangers to adding transfers with college game experience to supplement their needs and fill holes, although other new commits may come from the high school ranks or being returning LDS missionaries. But Utah State has the makings of a good class as things stand now.
Coming next: Wyoming