Utah State football: Bowl appearance giving USU respect in battling for recruits

Published: Monday, Jan. 30 2012 12:00 p.m. MST

D.J. Nelson of Logan High, right, pitches out teammate John Schmidt of Logan, left, during the Logan High School vs. Cottonwood High School football in August.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Editor's note: This is the third of a three-part series examining the recruiting efforts of the state's three FBS programs leading up to today's National Letter of Intent Day.

LOGAN — Utah State University's football season may have ended over a month ago, but there has been no rest for the Aggies' coaches. USU head coach Gary Andersen and the rest of his staff have been working overtime in advance of today's 2012 National Letter of Intent Signing Day.

The success of this year's football team, finishing with a winning record for the first time since 1993 and in a bowl game for the first time since 1997, has also translated into success in homes of recruits.

"Traveling around the country, whether it be Oklahoma or Texas or California or wherever the Utah State logo is gaining more respect," Andersen said. "Winning and being on national TV definitely helps. I'm not going to say being in a bowl game has got us kids we normally wouldn't, but it certainly doesn't hurt."

Andersen could not comment on individual players until they sign the dotted line and fax in their commitments today, but he was excited about the overall strength of this expected recruiting class.

"Everyone thinks they have a great recruiting class, and you don't know until you see it on the field," Andersen said. "All I can do is judge it by the schools we are recruiting against, and we are going up and winning some battles against quality competition. That doesn't mean we won't take a kid if we are his only offer, but overall we have been in a lot bigger battles."

Take for example running back Tavarreon Dickerson, who has reportedly verbally committed to the Aggies. The Arlington, Texas, native had offers from Pittsburgh, Indiana, Tulsa, North Texas and Louisiana Tech to name a few.

Signing day may be just around the corner, but the Aggies aren't done and won't be done recruiting for some time. As of last weekend, Andersen was still looking to fill three different needs: a defensive end, a cornerback and a difference-maker on the defense regardless of position.

On offense, the Aggies are still in the market for a running back and perhaps a quarterback if the right player comes along. Recruiting a quarterback is a tricky proposition for Utah State right now as the Aggies try and find someone who is willing to develop behind sophomore-to-be Chuckie Keeton for the foreseeable future and compete with Logan High School standout D.J. Nelson, who has verbally committed to USU.

Come today, Utah State could keep as many as four scholarships on the table to try and find a quarterback and running back, or a player that for some reason fell through the cracks.

"It could be a J.C. (junior college) kid who decides to come out a year early, or a kid that made grades that didn't think he could, or a player whose scholarship fell through from another school," Andersen said on the possibilities of saving a couple of scholarships.

Last year, the Aggies used a scholarship in late June when wide receiver Chuck Jacobs unexpectedly became available. Jacobs went on to become one of the Aggies' best deep threats in their wide receiving corps.

Notable Utah State verbal commitments

Andrew Chen, Calabasas HS, Calabasas, Cal. 6'4", 215 OG. Aggies continue to increase their size, length and depth in the trenches.

Tavarreon Dickerson, Arlington HS, Arlington, Tex. 5-9, 165 RB. Dickerson was one of the most-exciting running backs in Texas this past year. He chose to commit to the Aggies over programs such as Tulsa, Wake Forest and Indiana.

Marquan Ellison, Bradley Tech and Trade HS, Milwaukee, Wis. 5-11, 180 CB. Coach Gary Andersen burned up the miles recruiting this midwest prospect.

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