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2023 Recruiting Breakdown: Utah State

A class with top players, local players, and junior college players

NCAA Football: Utah State at Colorado State Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

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

Utah State continues to form its class in a variety of ways, through high schoolers, junior college, transfers, and returning missionaries. Also, they continue to be one of the best in the conference at recruiting in their home state. The top portion of the Aggie class has some impressive talent and the rest is filled with under-the-radar players. To see what the Aggies put together, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 31 players signed.
  • 11 high school players, 16 JUCO players, 3 transfers, 1 returning missionary
  • 15 offensive, 15 defensive, 1 special teams
  • 7 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating over 85: 3
  • Players with a composite rating over 82: 6
  • Breakdown by state (excluding transfers): 10 California, 9 Utah, 3 Texas, 2 Georgia, 1 Florida, 1 Kansas, 1 Nevada, 1 Italy
  • 247 Composite Rankings (subject to change)

- Overall: 117

- Recruiting: 116

- Transfer: 175

The Players:

QB McCae Hillstead

McCae is a quarterback with a lot of upside. While he is short in stature, he makes up for it in skill level, capable of making every kind of pass on the field. Hillstead does a good job going through his progressions, picking the defense apart with accurate throws on every pass. He can also extend plays with his legs, rolling out of the pocket and hitting a receiver in stride. McCae will need to keep developing but he has the talent to play at the college level.

RB Jaydon Bailey

Jaydon is an electric running back coming to the Aggies. He has breakaway speed and is hard to bring down once he gets going. Bailey bounces off tackles and possesses an array of moves to evade defenders. He hits holes with full force and gives max effort every play. Jaydon could see some snaps next year if he adjusts to the college game early enough.

RB Zakkarii Black

Zakkarii is another running back in this class. He is incredibly shifty, and though he isn’t very big he is very difficult to bring down. Black is a threat to score every time he gets the ball because he reaches top speed so quickly. He can also make a difference in the receiving game, making him a versatile weapon. Zakkarii can be used in many different ways and should be a playmaker before too long.

RB Reggie Foster

Reggie is yet another back in this class. He is a determined back who blasts through holes at top speed and blows by defenders. Foster changes direction extremely easily and makes people miss with his jukes and spin moves. He displays great vision and rarely goes down after first contact. Reggie provides a lot of talent as the Aggies aim to restock the position.

JUCO RB Davon Booth

Davon is a junior college player recruited by Utah State. Like others mentioned above, speed is his carrying trait, as he blows past defenders on his runs. Booth blends quickness with power and balance, bowling over tacklers and making smooth cuts in the open field. He also possesses sure hands, which helps to get him in the open field. Davon should be able to play in some capacity right away next season.

WR Jackson Olsen

Jackson is a tall, local wide receiver in this class. He is a smooth route-runner and immediately turns up field to fight for extra yards. Olsen has great hands and has a knack for making difficult catches in traffic over the middle of the field. He is also a dangerous returner, capable of finding the endzone at any time thanks to his vision. Jackson appears to be a great local recruit who should have a nice carrier for the Aggies.

JUCO WR Micah Davis

Micah is returning to the Mountain West, having started his career at Air Force. He is a prolific route-runner who specializes in deep balls thanks to his releases at the line of scrimmage. Davis is dangerous with the ball in his hands, gaining immediate separation and reaching top speed right away. He has great vision and is also used in jet sweeps and other plays designed to get him in the open field. Micah should play immediately for Utah State.

JUCO WR Kahanu Davis

Kahanu is another junior college wide receiver in this recruiting class. He is a skilled receiver who is adept at setting up cornerbacks and making a move to get wide-open. Davis excels in the intermediate and deep routes and is capable of making every play explosive with his yards after the catch. He tracks the ball well and makes catches in stride to maximize the potential of each play. Kahanu should find a role as early as next season.

JUCO WR Arcelles Johnson

Arcelles comes in to stabilize the wide receiver position. He has tremendous size and the speed to make him a potentially dangerous threat on offense. Johnson has a wide catch radius and that benefits him on short and deep routes alike. He is great after the catch, escaping tackles and outrunning defenders with his long strides. Arcelles will be hoping to do his part in making the Aggie offense dynamic.

Transfer WR Colby Bowman

Colby transfers in from Stanford. He is an extremely fast wide receiver who piles up explosive plays thanks to his skill set. Bowman is an excellent route-runner who changes directions smoothly as he swerves all around the field. He is hard to bring down after the reception as he keeps his feet moving after catching the ball in stride. Colby brings experience and talent to the wide receiver group.

TE Will Monney

Will is a dynamic tight end in this Utah State class. His long strides help him get downfield in a hurry and his large catch radius makes him an ideal target in the endzone. Monney has sneaky speed and can slip by the defense, while also delivering big blocks in the run game. He can line up in the flat, the slot, or along the line, making it easy to find mismatches with the defense. Will is another great local talent who should have a nice college career.

JUCO TE Isaiah Alonzo

Isaiah is coming to the program from the JUCO level. He has a good awareness of where he is at on the field and finds the soft spots in the zone to get open for short gains. Alonzo is dangerous with the ball in his hands, capable of turning upfield and bowling over would-be tacklers for big gains. He also converts that physicality into the run game, where he opens up big holes with his blocking. Isaiah should factor into the tight-end rotation as soon as next season.

OL Taliafi Taala

Taliafi is a tremendous o-line prospect in this class. He has mammoth size but is athletic enough to move around to make his blocks. Taala does a great job staying low to use his whole body and he maintains leverage to gain the advantage against defenders. He has sound footwork and takes good angles to prevent defenders from getting by him. Taliafi is a future left tackle and he should occupy that position for most of his college career.

OL Jr Sia

Jr is another talented offensive lineman the Aggies were able to secure. He is aggressive off the snap in run-blocking, pushing defenders out of the way and staying low to maximize his strength. In pass protection, Sia does a good job moving backward while anticipating where defenders will try to attack him, which allows him to beat them to the spot. He is mobile enough to get out into the second level on his blocks, despite his great size. Jr could probably play tackle or guard at the next level and be proficient in either spot.

JUCO OL Jake Hellmann

Jake is a junior college offensive lineman who signed with Utah State. He is strong and powerful but has a long athletic frame. Hellmann is very mobile on the field, often utilized to pull or get downfield for blocks. He springs into action after the snap and has proper footwork when executing his assignments. Jake should add immediate depth and could be in contention for a starting spot next year.

DT Justice Ena

Justice is returning from a mission, at the time he was announced as an offensive player, but now comes to Utah State to play defensive tackle. He has an athletic build and looks like he can add additional weight to his frame. Ena is a fierce tackler who gets off the line right away when the play begins. He diagnoses plays quickly and is relentless in his pursuit of the ball. Justice will need some time to get back in the routine of playing football full-time again but figures to boost the line once he does.

JUCO DT Vaughn Mamea

Vaughn is a junior college defensive tackle entering the program to shore up depth on the line. He is an imposing figure on the line, displaying huge size while maintaining mobility to make things miserable for offensive linemen. Mamea eats up blocks and fights through double teams to alter plays and make tackles. He pushes back blockers with his strength and doesn’t miss tackles when he gets an opportunity. Vaughn adds a lot of talent to the defense and should be a contributor next season.

JUCO DL Fale Mosley

Fale continues the barrage of junior college players for Utah State. He is a high-motor player who keeps moving until the play is finished. Mosley is much quicker than the average offensive lineman and uses that to his advantage, getting past them and meeting running backs in the backfield to blow up a play. He is a sound tackler who can stop people in their tracks, or chase them down from behind. Fale adds instant depth to the defensive line for the Aggies.

JUCO DL Clifton Mosley Jr

Clifton is entering the team from junior college. He is a high-motor player who rips through the offensive line and disrupts things in the backfield. Mosley gets a great initial push after the snap and blockers seem unable to match his strength. He is agile enough to change directions and pivot in tight spaces to gain a step on offensive linemen and make a play. Clifton has the talent to make an impact right away.

DE Zion Andreasen

Zion is a local defensive end in this class. He has ideal pass-rushing height and size and has the talent to go with it as well. Andreasen explodes out of his stance and knocks blockers off balance to get past them. He doesn’t give up on plays and puts his whole body into his tackles. Zion may need to add some weight during a redshirt season but should blossom into a contributor soon after that.

JUCO DE Cian Slone

Cian is a defensive end from junior college. He is quick off the edge, getting past tacklers with his speed and into the backfield to make a play. Slone is a textbook tackler who puts his whole body into his hits. He does an impressive job fighting off tackles and doesn’t give up on any play. Cian should be able to find a role on defense as soon as next season.

JUCO DE Maka Tuakoi

Maka is another JUCO defensive end the Aggies were able to secure. He gives max effort on every play and flies around the field, determined to make a play. Tuakoi is a versatile player, capable of rusher the passer, defending the short zone, and tracking receivers in coverage. When he lines up as a linebacker, he does a great job disguising his blitzes and changing up the gaps he runs through. Maka may have to adjust to playing on the line, but he is talented enough to be up to the task.

Transfer LB Gavin Barthiel

Gavin is a transfer, coming to Utah State from Washington State. He reads plays well as they develop and puts himself in position to make a stop. Barthiel wraps up well when he tackles, but appears even more impressive in coverage. He is fast enough to keep up with receivers and has active hands to deflect the ball. Coach Anderson indicated Gavin will continue to develop behind the incumbent starters but they expect big things out of him down the road.

DB Kadiyon Sweat

Kadiyon is an intriguing prospect from in-state Utah. He tracks the ball well in the air and has great hands which allow him to come down with the interception. Sweat plays mostly free safety, but when he comes in to make a tackle, he is a violent hitter in the open field. He is also dynamic as a returner, making smooth cuts without losing speed in the process. Kadiyon will need to keep developing but could end up as one of the better players in this class.

DB Chase Davis

Chase is one of the most talented recruits in this entire class. He has great instincts on the field and has a knack for coming up with the ball, thanks to his time as a receiver on offense. Davis has a long frame and his height allows him to neutral the size of receivers, which gives him an edge on jump balls. He is versatile enough to play safety, corner, or in the slot with his speed and size convo. Chase could see the field as soon as next year due to his talent.

JUCO DB Ronald Fuselier

Ronald comes to the class by way of junior college. He does a good job keeping receivers in front of him and tackles very well in open space. Fuselier has a smooth backpedal and is physical at the point of contact, dislodging the ball from a receiver’s hands. He is skilled at running a receiver off of their routes and uses his body well to get the inside track for the ball. Ronald looks like he has the talent to play next season in some capacity.

JUCO DB Javar Strong

Javar is a defensive back transferring in from the JUCO level. He has nice size at the safety spot and excels at making an interception and gaining a lot of yards after the catch. Strong covers a lot of ground with his long strides and puts force into his hits once he gets a running start. He reads plays well, and puts himself into the position to make a tackle. Javar is a nice athlete and should make an impact in the secondary.

JUCO DB Jaylen Martin

Jaylen is another junior college defensive back. He does a great job matching the speed of receivers on the sidelines and is almost always in a position to get his hands on the ball. Martin is extremely skilled at coming down with interceptions, so quarterbacks should think twice about throwing in his direction. He can also be a weapon on special teams units, as his aggressive nature has led to a number of punt blocks. Jaylen will add a lot to the Aggie’s team going forward.

JUCO DB Devin Dye

Devin continues the emphasis on defensive backs in this class. He is a safety who is great in pass coverage but can also step in to help stop the run. Dye roams the field, tracking the ball in the air and ensuring he can get in position to get his hands on the ball. He excels as a deep safety who can break up passes on long routes. Devin is talented enough to see the field next year, if he can take advantage of the opportunity.

Transfer DB Malone Mataele

Malone transfers in from in-state rival Utah. He was a two-way player in high school but has been a defensive back in college. Mataele reacts quickly once the ball is snapped and gives max effort every play. He is dynamic no matter where he lines up and has the speed and ball skills to excel at cornerback. Malone will bring a lot of athleticism to the Utah State cornerback room.

JUCO K William Testa

William was announced as a kicker for the Aggies. He comes by way of junior college but originally is from Italy. Testa is skilled in all three phases of the game, as capable of place kicking as he is kicking or punting. He is also versatile in his abilities, altering his kicks depending on the situational need. William should compete for a role right away and is capable of seizing it.

Team Writer’s Thoughts:

Quick Hits:


Mike: Taala, Davis, Sia, Hillstead


Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Taala, Davis, Sia, Hillstead, Bailey


Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Sweat, Monney


Best unit:

Mike: Offensive line, running back



Utah State leaves no stone unturned when it comes to fulfilling its mission of compiling the best talent possible in this class. On paper, there is a wide gap between the top and bottom of the class, but the top four or five measure up well when looking at the top of other classes. The will card for this Aggie’s class is the “bottom” of the class. If they can exceed their rankings, it would really push this class over the top. They have a strategy that they execute well year after year. There is nothing wrong with continuing the formula until something forces it to be altered. This class should help out both next season and future seasons if all goes according to plan.

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