LOGAN — On the field in 2013, Utah State's football team faced a tough Mountain West schedule and emerged with nine wins and a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl. On Wednesday, head coach Matt Wells announced his 2014 recruiting class and made it clear he believes the Aggies will be competitive on the field and in the homes of recruits for the foreseeable future.
“There was a neat chemistry with our staff and coaches. We 'team-recruited' a lot of these guys,” Wells said. “Each coach is assigned a geographic area and then recruits his position. We do a lot of team recruiting where we double up, especially late in the year. A lot of these recruits are a product of team recruiting.”
The team recruiting helped Wells hang on to some players that were getting looks from other schools late in the process — like quarterback Kent Myers. The strategy even flipped a few recruits — like East High tight end Joe Tukuafu, who was previously committed to Utah.
“We are excited about Joe. He’s been on our radar for a long, long time,” Wells said.
Utah State's signing class is comprised of 27 total players, eight from junior colleges and 19 from high schools. Nine players come from Utah, nine from California, four from Texas, four from Florida and one from Missouri. The locations and types of players recruited into the system come from the same blueprint laid out by Gary Andersen, something that Wells is still seeing through.
The Aggies' current coach is happy with the results.
“Every one of these kids has gone all the way through the process with us, either for the full year or since the summer,” Wells said.
Only linebacker Adewale Adeoye from Missouri came to Utah State’s attention in the last few weeks.
Seven players — receiver Preston Curtis and tight end Tukuafu of East High; safety Baron Gajkowski from Lone Peak; tight end Derek Hastings out of Lehi; offensive lineman Demytrick Ali’ifua from San Leandro, Calif.; and defensive linemen Mohelika Uasike (Richard Hills, Texas) and Christopher ‘Unga (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) — are planning to complete missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before playing for USU.
A total of five players — high school linebackers Chase Christiansen from Stansbury and Ian Togiai of Hunter and junior college transfers tight end Landon Horn and defensive ends Siua Taufa and John Taylor — are already enrolled at USU for the spring semester and expect to compete for playing time immediately.
USU's defensive personnel was heavily addressed, with 15 of the 26 recruits being defensive guys.
“Big needs at D-line and big needs at linebacker,” Wells said. “I think both were met from a depth standpoint.”
Wells is looking for all eight junior college players — three defensive linemen, two wide receivers, a tight end, a cornerback and a linebacker — to be role players this upcoming season.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company