Utah State football: Andersen excited about new recruiting directions

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 2 2011 4:00 p.m. MST

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LOGAN — On National Letter of Intent Day there is always reason for excitement. Every new commitment could be the next all-conference player.

Judging by the excitement in head coach Gary Andersen's voice when discussing this year's signing class, Aggie fans will have plenty to be excited about on the field in the coming years.

Overall the Aggies signed 28 players, with a heavy emphasis on the trenches. The Aggies signed six offensive linemen and five defensive linemen.

"We needed to put ourselves in position to get bigger, not just by weight but longer," Andersen said.

Of the offensive linemen signed, only Taani Fisilau is under 6-foot-5. Still, standing at a solid 6-3 and weighing 315 pounds, Fisilau is no small fry. On defense the Aggies will use the size they recruited on the defensive line to switch to a 3-4 defense. The switch will better utilize the skills of their deep linebacker corps, which will include Bobby Wagner, Kyle Gallagher and recruits Bojay Filimoeatu and Parker Hausknecht.

Noticeably absent from the signing class are skill players on offense.

Andersen said the team still has a scholarship or two to use on a game-changing wide receiver, and he hopes to bring one into the fold fairly quickly. But he said he is happy with the players returning on that side of the ball.

In spring ball all eyes will be on the starting quarterback position vacated by Diondre Borel. The Aggies signed two quarterbacks in Chuckie Keeton, a dual-threat quarterback from Houston, and Adam Kennedy, a more traditional but still mobile signal caller from San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) Junior College.

"We have four quarterbacks on scholarship," Andersen said, including returning players Jeremy Higgins and Alex Hart in the mix. "It's a young crew of quarterbacks and an unproven crew of quarterbacks."

Though the quarterback candidates posses different skills, Andersen said the offensive scheme will not change based on which player wins the job.

He said this recruiting class is a success based on the three guidelines of recruiting that Andersen laid out when he was hired. The most important guideline was going after in-state players. Utah State went heavily after Utah high school athletes and received commitments from 11 in-state players.

Andersen also wanted to create a welcoming environment for LDS players who wanted to leave on church missions.

The team has nine players scheduled to go on missions, with another nine players that are currently serving, and four players in this class that just returned from missions.

Lastly, Andersen wanted to add Polynesian players to USU's recruiting base. The Aggies received eight commitments from Polynesian players, bring the team's total to 19.

More than anything, Andersen said he believes every player recruited is a good fit with the school.

"We competed at a high level against some very good teams," Andersen said about grading his recruiting class. "What I gauge it on in the end is that we believe they are quality young men regardless of who was recruiting them."

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